We were young — I’ll say 10, she’ll argue and say 13 — when we found it.
I met Jamie when I was 7, at a sleep away camp in the woods of Maine. We were in the same cabin, and I think that first year she was on the top bunk and I was on the bottom (later, we’d always have to have top bunks next to or across from each other, but never the same because it was too hard to talk after the lights went out that way).
In the summer, there were 4 of us: Alex, Rachel, Jamie, and me. Every summer, all 4 of us would spend 6 weeks away from our parents. We’d sail, swim, hike, gossip about who the cute boys in the oldest boys cabin were, and make friendship bracelets, hair wraps and various things made of that mysterious plastic rope known as gimp.
The four of us were a force, and each had our role. I was the loud one (shocker). Jamie was the one who wanted to save the world. Rachel was the cool one. Alex was the smart one. We were more than that, of course, and together we filled in each other’s gaps.
Through the years; through boyfriends and babies, we’ve all remained friends.
Jamie and I, though, have also always had this penny.
On school breaks, and in between writing letters to each other, we’d visit. She’d bus down from Maine, or my mother would drive me up. I lived with her family one summer I was a camp counselor at a day camp, and I wouldn’t have missed her Bat Mitzvah for the world.
On one of these school year visits, we found this penny. It was lying face up, which, we decided, meant it was CLEARLY lucky. Not to mention, it had a mish-mash of our birthdays on it — My birth month (December) and her birth year (1982).
Even. More. Lucky.
We concocted a plan: We would have joint ownership over the penny. And we’d pass it back and forth whenever the other person either needed luck, or we’d see each other again.
The penny has seen some mileage. It was sent by post. It has been hand carried. It spent nearly a year glued to a piece of paper at the bottom of a box where I kept all my camp pen pal letters.
As we got older, we got more savvy about the penny, constructing a holder for it out of a plastic. Inside the white holder with magenta thread, that penny would not budge.
When Jamie got married, I gave her husband the penny. Telling him he’d never be forgiven if, after 20+ years of friendship it was lost. I think I sufficiently scared him.
What we’ve discovered, over the years, is not that the penny has luck. Surely it is *just* a penny.
What matters is that Jamie and I discovered, at a young age, that you create your own luck.
You just have to be willing to see it.