Friday, May 13, 2011

Twenty Years Ago

How many of you remember May 12, 1991?  I doubt many, but I do.

I was home from college just two days and decided to visit a church I'd never been to.  Little did I know that someone I met there that day would become of my best friends and like a brother to me.

Donnie and I were both teenagers then.  (In fact, it was his birthday that day, too!  I joke that I was the best birthday gift he ever received.  I'm sure he thinks differently, though!)

This was NOT my first encounter of him, however.  When I was in junior high, my youth group was going to a concert.  We stopped at a McDonalds and I am convinced the guy all us girls were talken with by how cute he was -- was none other than Donnie.  I asked him about this once, and he said he did have a shirt like the one I described this cutie ordering, and yes, indeed he went to the same concert!  :) 

It sounds cliche, but it doesn't seem possible we've been friends for 20 years.  During that time he's graduated college and then graduate school, been ordained, gotten married to a wonderful person named Blythe I am also very close with, become a father to three wonderful children (who call me "Aunt"), started a church in New Jersey, and moved to Russia. 

When plans were being made to move to Russia, I was told by Donnie and Blythe that I needed to come visit, so I started saving for the trip.  While there, we were stuck in a traffic jam and I laughed about how if I had known that someday I would be stuck in a Russian Round-about with the cute boy at McDonalds, how thrilled I would have been as a junior high kid.  Instead, Donnie had taken me down to get my paperwork approved for my visit, and Blythe was at home with the kids.  Donnie and I were racking our brains as to where we put a video I had brought as a gift for their daughter.   Blythe had called and the kids were wanting to watch it, but she couldn't find it.  (The DVD was found a few hours later in the game closet.)

The majority of my suitcases when visiting were filled with gifts for Donnie and Blythe.  Other American friends of theirs asked me to buy some stuff and bring to them.  I took only about three sets of clothes so there would be room for all the gifts.  Even a clerk at the post office wanted to send over some Pop-Tarts and Oreos!  I could fit 50 pounds into each suitcase I took, and packed carefully, even having things on top that I could easily ditch at the airport if needed (Bag of Reese's cups, Twizzlers, etc.)  Thankfully each suitcase had exactly 2 pounds to spare.  (Of coure, my backpack weighed about 20 pounds and I had to carry that halfway around the world!)

It wasn't a problem taking snacks they enjoyed, but I wanted to find some way to take root beer.  This is something Donnie loves and isn't sold in Russia.  I thought I had figured out the solution to this by buying two 20 oz bottles (for $2 each!) in Detroit after I was through security.  However, they were confiscated in Amsterdam.  I even said, "They are my brother's favorite drink and he can't get it in Russia."  They were sealed.  I had the slip where I bought them in the Detroit airport but they were still taken from me.  I understand why, but I so hoped he could have one of those! 

Donnie and Blythe came home early last year when it was found out she was expecting!  Next month they are moving back to Russia for three years.  I'm going to miss them terribly, but at least it's only 8¢ a minute to call, and there is Skype.  Facebook is great for keeping up, and Donnie and I always play Scrabble over e-mail using a UK service, usually making 1 play a day.  There's a place we can put a note in with our play and often a few words will be put there about what is going on in our day.  "Having friends over for dinner" or "It's the 4th of July, don't you miss the USA today?"  It's not detailed, but a great way to keep in touch.

Now that they are heading home, it's time for me to start saving for my trip to Russia again.

Maybe May 12, 2013 will find me in Russia.  You never know.

Here I am with Blythe in front of the Church of the Saviour of the Spilled Blood.  The other picture is me with Donnie, also in Russia.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY DONNIE! 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this tribute, Jenn! You have been a wonderful friend to my entire family and a great aunt to my children. And you have brought more laughs to my life than I can remember!

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