I know I have a tendency to exaggerate but for once I really wasn’t when I said “Everyone I Know was Born in July”. Today is July 17th, my good friend Jenn Thomas’ birthday.
Happy Birthday Jenn Thomas! Jenn and I go way back. Other than my Dad, she is the July birthday person I have know the longest. Jenn grew up in Elgin, Illinois, west of Chicago. Elgin is about 3 hours from Champaign, or 2.5 hours from where I grew up, so Jenn and I never went to school together or anything, but we have been friends forever. Actually, our Moms were friends first, they lived in the same dorm together at the University of Illinios, McKinley Hall (for all of you UIUC students/alums out there, today McKinley Hall is Coble Hall and was the payroll office when I was in school, on the corner of Wright and John Street I believe). Anyway over the years our families have been friends and we often visited each other through the years. In a weird kind of coincidence our families ended up very similar… my sister, Jan and Jenn’s sister, Mary are about 3 weeks apart in age, my brother, Phil, is about 3 months older than Jenn’s brother, Dave. About 8 years later I came along… everyone thought I would be a solo act, but Jenn followed me exactly two months to the day later.
In our early years Jenn and I used to fight and argue a lot. My mom has a picture of Jenn and I at about age 3 fighting over a toy. When we were about 13 or so Jenn and I had huge argument over which was better… Miracle Whip or Helmann’s mayonaise. Neither one of us gave in, call us stubborn if you want, but I prefer to think we were just loyal to our sandwich condiment of choice and the ways in which were were raised. To this day I prefer Miracle Whip, but in college I grew to enjoy the occasional sandwich with real mayonaise as opposed to “salad dressing”.
In our high school and college years Jenn and I recovered from the “Mayo Wars” and became really good friends. We are still really good friends. We never lived in the same town, and sometimes we don’t see each other for months, even a year, but we can just always pick up right where we left off. I think one of the reasons Jenn and I are such good friends is that we know each other’s past. I know her parents and family, she knows mine… we never had to tell each other about our history, we lived it. Jenn lives near Omaha, Nebraska these days. Even though we are good at being long distance friends... I wish she lived closer.
Jenn is a good cook/baker… she learned that from her Mom. I like to think I am a good cook/baker… I learned that from my Mom. My three favorite cooks/bakers on this planet (in no particular order, they each have their specialties) are Jenn and our Moms. Speaking of Jenn’s Mom, I was in high school before I realized her name was Bernice. I always knew her as Bunny, a nickname from her family that she used in college. My Mom and Dad always referred to her as Bunny, it never even dawned on me that Bunny wasn’t her given name.
Anyway back to Jenn. There are lots of reasons I love and admire Jenn. Jenn and I embrace our differences. She is married with two small daughters (Sid & Abby, I blog about them a lot), I am single with no kids. She gets that our lifestyles are different and we celebrate that. When we get together we always try to do things with John and the girls, they are my family too, but also always try to get a couple hours of time alone for grown-up girl time too. Jenn is the one who introduced me to Starbucks, it is such a fun treat. Whenever I go to Starbucks I think of Jenn. Sometimes I think of Jenn a lot! Jenn’s family introduced me to rum slush punch, we became intimately familiar with said punch at my sister’s wedding, we were 13, not to worry we weren’t drunk or anything, just a little happy. I haven’t had that rum slush in a long time… I should make a batch. Jenn did a good job finding a husband. I like John, not just because Jenn loves him, but because we would be friends anyway. John and I get along well… one mutual interest we have is teasing Jenn, I love that she hasn’t killed us both. Jenn’s girls are pretty fabulous too… other than the Fab Five (my 5 niece’s and nephews) Sidney and Abby are the only kids that refer to me as Aunt Jane. Jenn can tie a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue… this talent amazes me.
One of my favorite Jenn stories is from a few years after college. I was living with my parents then, and she came down from Elgin for the weekend, and John and his friend, Todd met us for the weekend so we could go to the Illini vs. OSU football game (John and I are UIUC alums and were even in school at the same time, but did not meet until Jenn introduced after we were out of school, Todd was an OSU alum). We went out that weekend, and boys drank girls drove one night, girls drank boys drove the other night. Well the night of the girls drinking we came home and Jenn went into the living room to talk to my Dad and said “Hi George, I think I am OBLIVIATED!” Not sure if she mean obliterated or oblivious or what, but to this day obliviated is one of my favorite non-words.
Well like many of my July birthday buddies, I really could go on and on about Jenn. She is the best, and I wish she lived closer. I miss you girlfriend!
Happy Birthday Jenn Thomas! Go to Starbucks and think of me! Or I can go to Starbucks and think of you... maybe we should each go to Starbucks and think of each other.
Editors Note: Jenn’s maiden name was Roome, pronounced Rome (like the city). I find it interesting that the post three days ago was about Jen Rohn, pronounced Rone. Is it me or is that just kind of weird and crazy odd coincidence, they have almost identically sounding names, and they have birthdays just days apart? This pic is of Jenn and family at the Illini game last fall... one of my best weekends ever.