Jill and Jen Sitting on ChairLast week was a NOFX kind of week and I can’t hear NOFX without thinking of one of my best friends, Jill.

The first time I ever hung out with Jill was when I was 15. Jill volunteered to drive my then-closest friend, we’ll call her Kathy, back to West Virginia. Kathy had run off one night, just on a whim. Months went by before we heard from her again. This was in 1997 and none of us would have a cell phone until at least two years later.

When Kathy showed up one dark and stormy night, (cliche, but true) she entertained us with stories of her adventures over the past few months. She had abandoned her senior year of high school to essentially do whatever it was she felt like doing at that exact moment, and that had taken her into West Virginia where she was now living with her boyfriend. I envied her for having the courage to follow her heart and live in the moment.

I would later come to find that her youthful capriciousness wasn’t as appealing in our 20’s, now closely resembling unstable, unreliable impulsiveness.

That night, Jill drove us to West Virginia in her Classic Red Honda Civic. We dropped off Kathy and then headed back, but only after getting completely lost and turning a two-hour drive into a five-hour drive. It was pouring down rain the entire trip home. I tried to call my mum from a West Virginia payphone but ran out of money and it cut me off mid-call. My mum probably feared me dead, as mothers tend to do when their daughters call from out-of-state, bad reception payphones on dark and stormy school nights.

I had never hung out with Jill on my own, as we ran with different groups of friends, so there was a lot of silence on the drive. She was older than me by a few years, which is huge when you’re in high school, and her reputation of being a totally rad bad ass preceded her. She broke the silence shortly after the rain started.

“If your feet start to feel wet, it’s because there’s a hole on the floor.”

She motioned to the passenger side floor where I was sitting. I looked down and saw the bottom of my JNCO’s with a bit of moisture starting to creep up the bottoms. I nodded in her direction, slightly entranced by the sound of the highway beneath us, the rhythmic thumping of the wipers, and the Ani DiFranco on the tape deck Discman adapter.

I glanced over at Jill, as she leaned forward to squint through the rainy windshield, puzzled look on her face. As Jill opened her lips to utter an expletive, I looked at the road just in time to see what appeared to have been a deer, now completely turned inside out from being hit by what had to have been an Army tank going 100 mph. in that tiny little Honda, we ran it over with a double thump.

Jill waited for a moment before saying anything, most likely trying to ascertain if we had blown a tire or mangled the car in any undrivable way. When the coast seemed clear, she spoke.

“Man! That thing was LITERALLY macked by a truck.”

I responded nervously with, “Yea,” or something equally lackluster. I was too busy hoping that deer guts didn’t seep through the hole in the floor of the car.

After Jill dropped me off, I didn’t expect to hear from her again. She was fun, vibrant and creative while I was struggling to see that kind of potential in myself. I guess something about that first adventure together told us that the Universe had plans for us and that there was much more to come. Over the next few years and because of Jill’s sweep-you-up spirit and convivial soul, I allowed myself to live the way that Kathy had lived; in the moment, doing whatever I wanted with whomever I wanted, surrounded by many, but uplifted and understood by only one, Jill.

You are one of the only people I have ever met that knows what it feels like to be alive, to feel life and possibility coursing through every square inch of your body, to know the thrill of a brand new day. True, we can’t be ‘alive’ in the sense that we were as teens, (because frankly, we should be dead after all of the ‘living’ we did) but I bring a little bit of that adrenaline-pumping feeling with me each day.

I think that’s why we never get together any more, because that kind of history is a lot to live up to. Because I’m a NOFX girl faking-it-to-make-it in a Josh Groban, vanilla corporate world. Because I

“look like a photograph of (myself)

taken from far far away

and I won’t know what to do

and I won’t know what to say.”

Jillo, I just want you to know that you’re the best and I miss you. Come and see me soon, I’ll be on the beach side combing the sand, metal meter in my hand, sporting a pocket full of change.