I’ve been a City gal for a long time, but I live by the expression, “You can take the girl out of Oklahoma, but you can’t take the Oklahoma out of the girl.” In my most optimistic orientation, I’d like to think I combine the generosity of spirit of folks from the Sooner State with the worldly approach of New Yorkers. Like many, I guess, I rather live with my feet planted in two worlds. Today, I was reminded of why I like being from this particular flyover state, so much. As I took care of my chores, I stopped by my Post Office Box in Rockefeller Center to find a note in my box indicating I had a parcel. As I picked it up, I joked with the postal worker saying, “It must be a mistake…I’m usually the only one who sends things to me.” I hoisted the big box over her counter to see it was from one of my Ponca City friends Beth Mertz Carmichael. My heart both melted and soared.
When growing up in our little oil town, Beth and I travelled in rather different social circles. One would be hard pressed to find a more geeky girl than me. For years, I had a mouthful of braces that looked like they might constitute a human rights violation. I was skinny with frizzy, unruly hair. My glasses were large and thick—like Harry Potter’s. I played in the orchestra and marching band and didn’t date much. I was very anxious–and shy. Good times.
Beth, on the other hand, was from a lovely family and was very cute. A gifted gymnast, she was a cheerleader and on the dance team (the famous Po-Hi Steppers). We shared a few classes together where she was studious and kind, but quiet. She worked for the local veterinarian, with aspirations of working with animals, as an adult. In a graduating class of 444 students, we had different sets of friends.
Time moved on. Beth married and had a family and proudly helps run her family’s ranch in Haskell, Texas. Some number of years ago, we connected on social media. There is an interesting alchemy that can occur between folks who were “acquaintances,” who develop a deeper friendship later in life. I think as we all age, we suffer bumps and bruises, disappointments, and deferred dreams. Like diamonds that have emerged from pressure and time, we hopefully become kinder, softer, more empathic versions of ourselves, as we get older. So however it happened, Beth’s beautiful, open heart was on display on Facebook, and I stepped through a door to become a closer friend.
The gifts that she sent to me today grew out of her concern over a recent bout of sadness that I’d shared. The care package was inspired by her Texas home and was so lovingly curated that it took my breath away. Candles from the famed Magnolia Market, special Texas foods and spices, a cowboy datebook (now if she’d only send some cowboys my way), and beautiful, beautiful photo cards created by a young family friend Emily McCartney and more.
To Beth and all my PC (Ponca City, not “politically correct”) kinfolk…thanks for continuing to keep your hearts open, showing kindnesses in large ways and small.
Finally, I couldn’t resist finding a few shots of Beth and I from the old days.