Jamie is the person who sits next to me at work.
At least, that's how it started. I met her a couple of days after I joined the company and she struck me as a quick, efficient, no-nonsense kind of person. She looked like she was in serious thought a lot and she worked really hard. I remember Dianah telling me that Jamie could convince newsmakers to do almost anything.
When I first worked with her, I was terrified because she asked me all sorts of questions and I worried that she was beyond fierce.
But then, I began to realise that she took a while to warm up to new people and that her perfectionism was just a result of her worrying about getting it right. Jamie wasn't as serious as I thought she was and soon, we were talking and laughing a whole lot more than we used to.
We started making faces at each other over the low partition that separates us, and throwing things to each other, earphones, Panadol, cookies.
We even started having dinner together regularly, a habit that carried over to after Dianah and Mavis left the desk and it was just the two of us. "What you doing tonight?", she would type to me, and we would end up having a cosy dinner in some random eatery, sometimes with Dhany, sometimes without, but always with heart to heart talks and lots of laughter.
"What you doing tonight?"
We decide to have Japanese food for dinner and go accessory shopping after. I call Dhany, who is on leave, and he agrees to meet us there.
As we're walking out, the evening light falls in golden shafts over the neighbourhood and Jamie reaches for my camera. "Quick! Quick! The light is very nice!"
Laughing, we trip into a little clearing of stone tables next to one of the blocks where she snaps furiously for two minutes before the sun disappears behind a cloud. "Oh well." We take the train to dinner and over a salad and sukiyaki, start talking about something funny Dianah told me that day.
Dhany arrives, late from being stuck in traffic, and Jamie thoughtfully volunteers to take our photo. "I never see any photos of you together," she protests.
"You're not going to get anything serious out of us," I tell her, as Dhany sticks his chopsticks in his mouth like Igor.
Dhany makes his "oooh" face, like a Gary Larson character who's made a new discovery. She takes the photos anyway, giggling and we examine them like film critics. "Haha, this one looks like we've been through an arranged marriage. This one looks like we're one year from divorce!"
After dinner, we stroll across the road to get ice-cream from Udders and sit along the pavement like in a French cafe, talking and joking in the low headlights of the cars that past. The streetlights paint us all a dim orange. We talk about school, about Dhany's old teachers, about how the office used to be when everyone was on the team, about Mavis' wedding, about what we plan to do in the future.
Finally, sleepiness sets in. "We had a nice night," I observe to Jamie as we stand and stretch.
"Yes," she grins back. We part to go our separate ways, she will take the train North and Dhany will drive us to the East, where we both live.
"I really like having dinner with Jamie," I say.
"So do I," he grabs my hand as we walk through the underpass.
Mavis, Jamie and I once wondered if we would be as close if we had met in school where Jamie was popular, Mavis was a prefect and I was the weird nerd. We decided no, but that meeting as adults had changed all that. I never thought it would be this way, but I see my colleagues every day and they're now friends to me, more than anything, and people I share some of my deepest and darkest thoughts with.
So, Jamie was just the person who sat next to me at work.
Now, she's so much more.
PS Jamie says I talk too much nonsense on this blog and insisted on hearing more "personal love stories" instead. Um, well, how's this one for you: As I violently hacked the morning away yesterday, I got a call from Dhany who asked if he could drop by the house to see me for a few minutes before work. He arrived, bearing a care package (no one ever made me a care package before!!) of grapes, crackers and cheese, Robitussin, a Vicks inhaler, chocolate and.... DOMO!