I first noticed her organizing the yoga mats. Tall, silver hair and skin that didn’t appear to have any pores (urgh). She introduced herself, not as our new manager, just “Jenn.” I couldn’t get a read on her — that didn’t last long.
In a few short days it became clear that Jenn wasn’t just a leader, but a friend who listened intently and really saw you. She was hilarious and didn’t take herself too seriously. She smiled with her whole face; freckle-dusted cheeks.
She led the room, not by taking up oxygen, but by letting everyone around her breathe freely. That didn’t mean she wouldn’t call you on your shit — she did that too, and in a way that wasn’t awkward or condescending or confrontational, just real, never rude. You wanted to do better for her. And if she was tired, she didn’t show it.
She made me belly laugh with that wickedly funny wit of hers. Her humour oscillated between light and dark, and I loved it.
“Oh my god if you’re on Beatrice I’ll kill myself,” she replied to my Instagram story.
I had posted a video of my house near Beatrice Street, it had reminded her of her grandmother’s home. I could hear her saying it like she was in front of me. She would have said it really fast, like it was all one word, throwing her hands in the air for full dramatic effect.
When we would take the subway home together after closing the store I could ask her about anything, knowing she’d give me an honest answer: childbirth, periods, everything was on the table. She felt like a big sister.
The day I found out she died nothing made sense. Not how it happened or why. It still doesn’t. It won’t.
I went through our emails and her entire Instagram that evening, trying to pull as much as I could of her close to me — forced myself to watch the video she made for her husband on his 40th birthday, every picture of them with their little girls. I sobbed, then laughed, then cried into a bowl of walnuts.
I went through our DMs, “Dang. Izzz cute,” she replied to a picture of my new outfit.
“Omg!!!!! The. Best. Place. Ever,” to a photo of Bitandos Pizzeria.
“Glam girl” was her last little message to me.
I miss getting those, mostly the person on the other end.