The Porch

     This is the piece that I submitted to the anthology for the 2012 Abydos Writing Institute. For eight summers, I have had the privilege and pleasure of being one of the co-trainers for this life-changing course. The core philosophy of Abydos (formerly the New Jersey Writing Project in Texas) is that as teachers of writing, we must be writers ourselves. Therefore, we must read a lot and write a lot. I have the reading part down, but I still struggle with making time for writing in my daily life. (That is one of the reasons that I started this blog--for accountability in my reading AND writing life.) 
     A few weeks ago, I traveled to Fredericksburg with my two best friends, and that trip inspired this writing. Even though it will be published in the anthology, I wanted this memory to be posted on my blog because my friendship with Emily and Tracie is a huge part of the person that I am today. 


On a front porch in the Texas Hill Country, I sit in silence with my two best friends. Night sounds permeate the space between us while our rocking chairs creek in unison. It is a comfortable quiet—a moment of transition from one shared memory to the next. No one rushes to fill the void with meaningless chatter. Easy silence among friends is the best kind of quiet.
We relish this rare moment of peace. Our thirty-something lives race by at a steady pace of chaos and commotion—kids to appease, meals to prepare, careers to manage; we balance these blessings like tightrope walkers high above a three-ring circus. But for one night, the circus has left town (or we have escaped the circus), and the only decisions that need to be negotiated are which restaurant to visit on the main street of town, which bottle of wine to open, which memory to unearth for the sake of a good laugh—delicious decisions for a warm summer night.
On this early June evening, Emily, Tracie, and I each put our balancing acts on hold to meet in Fredericksburg for some much-needed Girl Time. The men in our lives do not question our deep need to rendezvous. They each understand that Time with the Girls is a priority because the Girls existed as a unit before the men entered the picture; unfortunately, motherhood, jobs, life in general get in the way, and these trips do not occur as often as they should. When they do, the men graciously agree to walk the family tightrope for a while.
The equation of our friendship equals nineteen years. We spent four of those years forging our roommate bond through typical Texas A&M activities: late night chats at the Dixie Chicken, parties, road trips, and Aggie football games. So many friendships fizzle out when people are no longer in the same proximity to “do life” together. But it is what came after college that cemented our sisterhood for a lifetime: graduate degrees, 180-degree career turns, the births of Jack, Landry, and Peyton, Emily’s health scare, Cassie’s adoption, and the loss of Tracie’s beloved mother. Separated by cities, states, and sometimes continents, technology sustained our fifteen years of friendship as we hurdled the obstacles of life. Connected by emails, phone calls, voice mails, and text messages, our bond strengthened as we shared the joy and devastation of life together—even if we were not able to sit on the same porch to do so.
But our face-to-face visits nurture our sisterhood, and our deepest, most-treasured moments always involve a porch. From the first years of our time in Aggieland, our best talking, laughing, yelling, and crying occurred on a porch. Over the years, we have purposely sought out porches to do our catching up. It does not matter where the porch is—College Station, Bryan, Mesquite, Houston, South Carolina, Maryland, Forney, or in the Texas Hill Country—it’s not about the physical porch; it is about the people and the love that is shared for the ones who sit there.
So here we sit, on a front porch of a cute B&B cottage, enveloped by the evening sounds of June in Fredericksburg, Texas, enjoying a momentary pause to savor our precious time together.  Nineteen years and a lot of life later, so much has changed but so much is still the same—cliché but true. We are older and wiser but still bonded by our porch conversations and the easy quiet that seeps into them. Our sisterhood has been tested by the challenges of geography, and we know we will survive this next life hurdle. Emily will move to Indonesia for a few years while her engineer-of-a-husband builds things (I am still baffled by his job), and Tracie will continue cooking for rich people in Aspen and then return to her wonderful man in Houston, and who knows what the next chapter will bring to her life...I will continue my glamorous life as a mom/librarian/compulsive reader and live vicariously through my globetrotting friends, comforted in the knowledge that they are only a few clicks of technology away. No matter the distance, no matter the circumstance, I know we share a bond for life. I know this much is true because of countless conversations on porches. Until our next rendezvous that will undoubtedly require a porch, I will remember the words of two good Aggies, Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett:

“This old porch is just a long time of waiting and forgetting,
Remembering the coming back and not crying about the leaving…”
-The Front Porch Song



Dedicated to my Aggie Soul Sisters: Tracie Hartman and
Emily Mallard Dorris. Together, we are aTm.





Comments

  1. I hope your trip to St. Louis was more than a success! I just wanted to let you know that I wrote a little blurb about you as part of my 23 Things staff development. Thanks for contributing so much to the ABYDOS course. I hope you enjoyed the front cover of the anthology (you sparked the inspiration behind it). Have a good summer break!

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  2. I LOVE the cover of the anthology, Tye! It is perfect. I hope you are enjoying your Summer. Remember to keep reading, writing, and doodling--of course.

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