I grew up in Texas. I’m proud of that fact because I was raised to think that Texas is a pretty special place. I mean, Texans think anyplace else is just a sad second to the “Great State”. So when I grew up and found myself, first in Georgia for a few years, and then in North Carolina for the long-haul, it took a little attitude adjustment. I was very surprised to find out that, GASP, other people thought their state was awesome, too. And by the time I had raised my kids and educated them at UNC-Chapel Hill I was fairly convinced that we were North Carolinians who just happened to have hailed from Texas. My father was convinced I was a traitor.
Over the years I visited Texas on a regular basis. My parents were still in Beaumont, as were all my childhood friends. But so too were the friends I made in my young adult life, the friends I had my babies with, the friends I learned how to be a young wife and mother with. There were three of us, all blonds (who have more fun!), and we became more like sisters for each other. To this day we call ourselves sister-friends. When I first moved away I was lost without Charlene and Courtney, but somehow we’ve managed to maintain our friendship through 33 years of living halfway across the country from each other.
In the early years of living apart we were all about our kids, who was doing what. Our children were similar in ages and we could discuss the joys and trials of our toddlers, our pre-teens and then the dreaded teenage years. Of course we discussed our husbands, each of their one and only, and my first… and second. We moved into our kids’ college years, marriages, grandbabies. At first we wrote letters because a long-distance call was too expensive. Then we called each other a little more often. We started using email when everyone got a computer. But the ultimate has been texting. We keep an ongoing text thread with which we discuss any and everything that pops up. It’s our lifeline.
I always knew that when I visited my parents in Texas I would see them, too. Then one day my parents were not in Texas anymore. I have written of the horror of Hurricane Harvey and the necessity of moving them to NC. There was just so much loss, but at the time it was hard to fully grasp how this would affect my connection to these women. Our link was Texas. Suddenly, we didn’t have the easy knowledge of another visit coming up. I was not, by default, going to be in Texas. We have had to be more deliberate. Several years ago, as empty nesters, we began to plan an annual girls’ trip. It was a bonus visit then. Now it is a vital link to our friendship.
All of this is to say that last week was that trip. I was with my sister-friends when I got the news about my brother-in-law. We were in the lovely little town of Wimberley, Texas in a darling AirBnB, an old chapel converted to quirky house. We had talked endlessly and exhaustively. These days most of our conversations are about aging parents and grandchildren, but we spend a lot of hours reaffirming each other. And when the chips are down these women are picking them up. I needed some picking up and putting back together last week.
This morning I had a moment that made me smile. On our trip I ordered a pale pink, lightweight jacket exactly like one of my girlfriends had, and it arrived today. Since getting back home emotions have been really heavy. That cute pink jacket reminded me that no matter what happens in our lives my sister-friends have my back. They walk the journey with me, sometimes even in matching outfits! Thanks Texas.