TPG Blog Post #16: This Great Big U.S.A. & Friends In Low Places
Posted on July 21 2022
Wow, you’re real nice U.S.A. Please pronounce that as “rail niiice” as I will be for the rest of 2022 after a week in Nashville, Tennessee and a 3-day, 2,000 mile road trip home to Bakersfield, California on Interstate 40. We drove through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. We saw some friends and thought of others. We logged real windshield time, the best to clear your head, zoom out of your life and realize again that this world is a big, big place. Clarity – gratitude – grace - yourself; all rediscovered with a little rest and wide-open spaces.
We stopped at Love’s Truck Stops, stocked an ice chest with lots of goodness and my playlist that may be up for a 2022 Grammy. When we saw the sign for Winslow, Arizona – boom – The Eagles “I’ve been running down the road tryin’ to loosen my load, I’ve got seven women on my mind …”. Garth Brooks Double Live 25th Anniversary Album, 30 songs, played for 1 hour 56 minutes while driving through Oklahoma and we sang “Friends in Low Places” at the top of our lungs. (Stop - you would be too – you know you would!) The television show theme song segment that I thought would be fun was a dud – I wouldn’t recommend it. One-hit wonders is always a hit and some of those would shock you. “Desperado” was our second to the last song and for the finale: AC/DC “Thunderstruck” took us home.
We’ll be back, Tennessee and all you beautiful states in between – y’all are rail niiice!
You never ever know when in the course of your life you’ll be gifted a best friend.
Rick was my very first and best friend growing up. We lived next door to each other in side-by-side ranch houses out in the country. We were 4 years old or so when we met and were inseparable until we were about 20. Birthday calls, Christmas cards and an occasional dinner would keep us in touch through the busyness of the next decades.
We were invited to his son’s wedding in May. Both the bride and groom were genuinely loved by all and after the outside ceremony, the wedding party exited two by two and then there was a gap in the procession. All the guests turned to see what was happening: both sets of parents and Rick’s mom were in a group hug before walking out! (Rick later called it a huddle – honestly!). We sat with Rick’s wife, Allison’s high school best friends and the night was a hit! We ate and danced and watched the sweetest video that I’ve ever seen. Rick gave a speech that was exceptional. When Rick’s mom would introduce me to other guests, she would say “Kelly was the one that kept Rick reading” and I would laugh every time because I’m sure he would still have read without our friendship but maybe not!
I realized a couple of things that night and remembered them on our road trip: There is something to be said for being around friends who have known you for your whole life – genuine acceptance and love of everything that you are. You. That’s it. We had our own “huddle” when we said our goodbyes with full hearts – Rick, Allison, Brad & I – vowing not to let it be so long until we saw each other again. And it won’t be. Our final song that night was “Friends In Low Places.”
Let’s cheer for each other and say “YES” to forever friends and full hearts. Make an effort to connect with others. Listen to music that you love. Go on a road trip. Dance at a wedding. Really live your great big life. It’s what we do, you know.