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An Open Letter To An Old Friend

hawaii beach
(Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Jan Risher –

Stay with me. This story goes back a long way.

In the fall of 1992, I was living in Washington, D.C., and couldn’t find a decent job to save my skin. I ended up temping. I answered phones. I had a college degree and had had a string of great jobs, but in the fall of 1992 in Washington, D.C., no one was hiring.

Let me be clearer. In my temp job, which lasted for five months, I worked in the basement of a skyscraper, answering phones for the janitorial department of a giant company. In my previous position in Reno, Nevada, I had been the city special events director. I was young and stupid and had come to believe my self-worth was intrinsically tied up in the work I did.

Boy, did I have a lesson to learn. In my new job, very few people even saw me. Not only was I answering phones for janitors — I was a temp at that!

In the five months on the job, I made one friend — outside the janitors, who hailed from all over the world and became my bosom buddies. Her name was Ramona and she had a great job with a company called SkyRadio – it provided live radio for planes and ended up not lasting a whole lot longer than my temp job did, but at the time it was cutting edge and might change the world.

During that fall, I got tickets for the upcoming presidential inauguration. But by the time January 1993 rolled around, I ended up hightailing it to Eastern Europe to get away from the oppression of unemployment. I gave my tickets to Ramona. She had a blast. One of the musicians she saw was a girl named Michelle Shocked. Through Ramona, I came to love Michelle Shocked’s music too.

All these years later, Ramona is still one of my dear, dear friends. This weekend, she married the love of her life in Hawaii. Here’s to old friends and new love.

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