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I’ll Stand By You

I lost my snack. Gave up too much. Green carpet and orange fabric and plywood, witness to my deflowering.

In kindergarten.

The same surfaces, identical openings, bore witness to my white wedded ushering of her sixth grade graduation. I was a fifth grade marshall. Awkward. And zitty. And very, VERY hormonal.

I trod across the path of my kindergarten mortification once again. When she graduated from high school. I was a junior marshall. An observer to the turning of the tassel. I saw her pass ahead of me into adulthood.

I don’t have many life-long friends. Paltry kindergarten connections.

Leigh Anne is maybe the only one. A person who speaks my shorthand, a code language taught by a life lived in parallel. Forty years of existence.

Perhaps she knows me better than anyone.

And she’s joining me on the Natchez Trace.

I. Can’t. Wait.

51 Comments Post a comment
  1. I haven’t really been paying attention….have you started yet? Have you done the naked stretch? How far along the Trace is Leigh Anne joining you? If you’re not lost, I am:)

    February 10, 2014
    • I start March 1. I have a strategy for the naked stretch, thanks to Robert Johnson. Leigh Anne is joining me in Jackson, Mississippi on February 8. (She will arrive there on the 7th.) The 8th is a rest day for me, so I will get to spend time with her. She will leave on the 9th.

      My friend Alice is going out with my dad and me on Feb 26. She will leave around March 7. My guideson Cooper and his mom Kristen are coming to walk the day with me on April 2. Several other people have expressed an interest in doing that, and I hope they will all be able to.

      My mom is now coming on at least three weeks of the trip as the Roy-wrangler. My mother-in-law is probably coming for the second week (Feb 9, after Leigh Anne leaves.)

      February 10, 2014
  2. Leigh Anne Wills #

    I love you, Andra. I had a great time with you guys this weekend! I cannot wait for my copy of To Live Forever gets delivered. And Jay is right, we do look like two little girls siting in a giant chair. Hahaha. Xoxo

    February 10, 2014
  3. That is really great, a kindred spirit to join you. Of course, there is also that dead guy hovering that this is all about.

    February 10, 2014
    • There are lots of spirits hovering around the Trace. It’s a place with an old soul.

      February 10, 2014
  4. Very sweet. I do not believe I still have anyone around from my kindergarten days. Elementary school either. Middle school, somewhere around the 7th or 8th grade may be the starting point for any of my longest held friendships.

    I am glad that she is going with you. Maybe as a body guard? Can she fend off wayward alligators and divert aggressive wild boar? Or at the very least, can she phone ahead to let them know when your coffee or gin and tonic should be served?

    February 10, 2014
    • Leigh Anne #

      Alligators?? No one said anything about alligators….I volunteer for the coffee/gin and tonic service. 🙂

      February 10, 2014
    • Carnell is being coy with us. He knows I know what he’s referring to. 🙂

      February 10, 2014
      • Bwaaahaaahaaahaa!!

        Do they have cilantro farms along the trace? That would be good fun.

        February 10, 2014
      • Ick!!!!!!!

        February 10, 2014
  5. That’s so wonderful, Andra. I envy you that. If I were to start a journey of your proportions (both the physical and spiritual one you are on) I wonder who would walk with me.

    Enough maudlin’ stuff from my mouth. I look forward to hearing her thoughts on the journey. I also can imagine what you will talk about along the way, what interesting memories will come up.

    February 10, 2014
    • I really, REALLY hope you can come, too. REALLY REALLY REALLY.

      February 10, 2014
      • I may not figure it out until a little closer. It really comes down to finances, but I will let you know I promise.

        February 10, 2014
      • We will figure out how to get you to me. Our birthdays deserve it.

        February 10, 2014
  6. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    I love this! Having a life-long friend is a precious gift – I know from experience. And that she would join you on your trip is priceless. How wonderful for you both. xxoo

    February 10, 2014
    • What’s funny is that we really weren’t great friends when we were little. We’ve only become close as adults.

      February 10, 2014
  7. Debbie #

    I love the picture of the two of you and I am so happy that Leigh Anne will be joining you along the way. It makes it even more special!

    February 10, 2014
  8. So glad you’ll have a good friend on the journey!!! Best of all, she’s with you on life’s journey!

    February 10, 2014
    • Right. And I have your phone number to call you from the Trace. I’m so going to do that, Linda.

      February 10, 2014
  9. HURRAYYYYY. Friends like that are precious, and everyone should have some.

    February 10, 2014
  10. Spectacular! It’s priceless to have friends like that. Not only has she known you forever but she’s supportive where it really counts. You are truly blessed!

    February 10, 2014
    • As soon as she found out about this crazy trip, she insisted that she come out. It really means a lot to me.

      February 10, 2014
  11. tarakianwarrior #

    Jealousy thy name is LORI! So jealous…is that the correct word? I wish I could be going with you, truly I do. You’re blessed Andra, yes, I know you know, to have a friendship that has lasted so long. 🙂 My longest friendship is with my BFF, Danna, whom I met while working where I continue to work today. She has since moved on to owning her own business but we talk every morning. I feel blessed for every friendship that I do have, not many, but all are golden – of which I count you one – golden blessings (not to be confused with a golden shower – ugh). 🙂

    February 10, 2014
    • You will be there, Lori. It will just be a little different. 🙂

      February 10, 2014
  12. I know how that feels for me…the best…another pattern in the macrame. Cool.

    February 10, 2014
  13. how wonderful and lucky that you continue your paths together.

    February 10, 2014
  14. Reading this post makes me even more sad about the timing of me taking on this new job. 😦 I really REALLY wanted to walk with you. I’m still looking at any possible way to make this happen. It looks like I’ll be in Atlanta on business from Mar 3-7th, so maybe I could swing something on the tail end of that trip… Will investigate. xoxo

    February 10, 2014
    • MTM is driving out from Atlanta on the 8th. He would be coming back through on the 10th. If you think it would be feasible for you to ride with him, let me know, and we can make that happen.

      February 10, 2014
      • Ha! Poor MTM stuck in a car with me for 6 hours. Each way. 🙂
        Seriously though, the timing is just a bit off. My conference ends on Mar 6th, so I’d need to make my way down that day or the 7th latest and be heading back by Sun the 9th. 😦
        Will keep working to see if I can make something happen closer to the tail end. Why does the Natchez Trace need to be so far from real airports?? 🙂

        February 11, 2014
  15. So wonderful that you will have friends along the way with you, Andra (and family, too). While I haven’t friends from grade school that I’m in contact with, I do see high school friends and my best friend from college and I still are in touch. It is good to have friends that go way back, and then, of course, the newly minted ones. Good song.

    February 10, 2014
  16. Have fun and keep us posted. Love the pic of you two in the giant chair. Too cute!

    February 10, 2014
    • Her husband said we looked like little girls. That Jay knows how to make a girl feel good……

      February 10, 2014
  17. Ah, how wonderful to have a life-long friend. I don’t know anyone from Kindergarten these days.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    February 10, 2014
  18. How nice to have a friend for so long. I am still friends with one of mine from Kindergarten as well. A kinship that most cannot understand. Keep having fun!

    February 10, 2014
  19. Wonderful! Nothing like having a buddy to help get you through. 🙂

    February 10, 2014
  20. A-HA!!! Stunt double/nude double! CALLED IT!

    Sorry, too much caffeine today. Or too much sugar, as I only had one cup of coffee (with too much sugar in it)… 😀

    Anyway, good for you. Still feel free to talk to yourself when it happens. I bet you find she does this as well. Normal, normal, normal…

    February 10, 2014
    • Ha. I am certain this comment made her laugh as much as I did. Normal normal normal…..

      February 10, 2014
  21. How wonderful to have a cherished friend to keep you company! I have friends that go back to my early childhood, and I know what that history means. Past, present and future will be on the Trace together. How wonderful is that!

    February 11, 2014
    • It’s all part of what’s woven into the book.

      I tried to comment on your blog today, and it didn’t take. Please know I read it. I hit post several times……..dang WordPress.

      February 11, 2014
  22. yes, yes, YES!! That is so wonderful that I’m getting a bit weepy about it. Sharing this experience together will be hilarious and meaningful for both of you, and it will make the miles fly by for you. We truly do get by with a little help from our friends.

    February 11, 2014
    • After reading your post today, I really wish I could fly your friends up to dress up like pandas and stand along the Trace with beer signs. It’s so awesome that they came out for your first marathon like that.

      February 11, 2014

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