Whether you live in the city or the country, having a best-friend who sticks by you through thick and thin is a priceless treasure.
My ultimate best-friend is Kelly. She and I were friends before we could even form words because we lived next door to each other while growing up. Our parents were great friends; we all had a fabulous life together for many years.
Kelly's dad and my dad were motorcycle enthusiasts, so Kelly and I took many, many road trips on the back of a few bikes with our dads. It was a natural way of life for us two daughters. Come to think of it...if my dad and I ever had a father/daughter bonding experience, it was all of that motorcycle riding throughout my years growing up. It was pretty cool. I've still to meet any other teenager who is taken to tennis lessons on a motorcycle.
In fact, I didn't have any other friend whose father rode a motorcycle, just Kelly's dad, who was like a second dad to me.
And our parents would actually take extended motorcycle trips for days and days at a time. They all enjoyed life so thoroughly. Kelly and I have some wonderful memories.
For a few years in my childhood, my family moved to Scotland so that my dad could work on an offshore oil rig in the North Sea. I went to school with the Scottish kids, lived in a house off Inchmickery Avenue and slowly developed a strong Scottish highland accent without knowing it.
Finally, after Scotland was coursing through my blood, it was time to come back to America. Kelly and her family picked up my mother and us three kids from the airport. My happiness at seeing Kelly was incredible, but when I began to chat with her about old times, new times and everything in between, I got this funny expression from Kelly and she said, "You talk funny."
I quickly closed my mouth because I didn't realize that I talked funny. The REALLY "funny" thing about most accents is that you often don't realize you have one at all, until someone points it out, like a best-friend who is completely perplexed by the Scottish-Texan friend with the changed accent.
Over the next year or two, I worked extremely hard to get rid of my accent. Back in those days, in the mid-to-late 70's, it wasn't so cool to have a foreign accent all the time. At least I didn't think it was so cool because it didn't feel good when people continually stared at me with a weird expression every time I spoke. Therefore, I worked hard to listen to the difference in my accent and to try to catch myself when the Scottish burr was coming out thick and strong. It was not easy.
These days, I'm back to my good old Southern drawl, and I only get a few stares when we leave the Southern states. For old fun, I sometimes will talk in my Scottish accent when saying my grocery list outloud to myself or when I am singing an old Scottish song that I know by heart from my time there, but I will never speak with this accent in front of anyone because, to this day, it is very uncomfortable for me to allow anyone to hear me sound that way. I guess I associate it with a bit of trauma with moving from country to country at such a young age.
However, the Scottish language still often comes natural to me, especially when I become angry...that's when the old accent wants to make a huge comeback, but I remain aware of it and keep it at bay. And when I hear the bag-pipes playing...I have been known to go to my room and close my door so that I can imagine my swords (my dancing practice swords) on the floor, crossed over one another and I hold my arms just perfectly with my fingers position just right and I begin my highlands dancing between the blades, with my one foot lifted and the toe swiping back and forth around my calve muscle and so on. Yes, all the time I lived in Scotland, I took Highlands dancing lessons, the real deal. So, the bag-pipes truly do MOVE me in a unique way.
Since my Scottish accent was such a shock to my American friends, I was suddenly horribly shy and would be incapable of sharing my love of beautiful, mesmerizing bag-pipe music that seemed to resonate through my body, nor would I share my unique form of dancing on the practice swords that I kept in my bedroom back in America.
There would be no more dance performances before the Scottish public --- the performances where we actually got to dance around gorgeous, shiny, sharp REAL swords. And the reason that you MUST practice, practice, practice this form of dancing is because the admiration of this dance comes from the fact that you must NOT LOOK DOWN while dancing around the swords placed across each other, you must highstep from quadrant to quadrant using fancy footwork without looking strained. You dance around the blades and do so gracefully, without kicking the swords out of place, and without injuring yourself.
I performed around real swords in Scotland, to real bag-pipe music, and I did not kick the swords. But, back in America, soon my practice wooden swords would disappear...one would be used as a cross after being stuck into the backyard dirt to memorialize a fallen pet. I had not wanted to use one of my wooden swords from Scotland, but my dad stuck it in the ground, not knowing its meaning, and there it rotted. After that point, I would use anything I could find to perform my private Scottish dances in my room.
As for Kelly, she loved me even when I sounded "funny." We will be friends from the cradle to the casket. She is like a sister to me. There's hardly a week that goes by when we haven't spoken multiple times, at length. We support each other, encourage each other, pray for each other, share Bible verses with one another, we vent with each other and understand each other. Yes, we understand one another because we've known each other for...forever...forever as we've known it so far.
I am thankful to God for him giving me a friend like Kelly. A friend who cannot be run off by anyone. A friend who is as close to me as anyone who shares the same blood with me.
Thank you God for Kelly!