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Tag Archives: Amelia Echols

MY OLDEST CHILDHOOD FRIEND + HER LITTLE LIZA | PERSONAL

Meet my very oldest friend, Mary Beth. We starting hanging out sometime right after infancy.  Whatever those first couple of months of existence are called - that was when we began our lifelong journey.  (I’m not a mom, so please be gracious towards my lack of proper lingo, or child-rearing knowledge of any kind whatsoever for that matter).  Needless to say, Mary Beth and I have literally spent decades together.  Point in fact: we are each others longest relationship outside of our immediate families.  And we’re still going strong!

* I’m the one with my hands in the air and MB is the tiny chick with curls to my immediate right *

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* RANDOM side-note: three of the five little girls with me above were my bridal attendants, and I only had four - it was the best! *

Sure she hated me when I towered over her at four years old and used my lanky pole-bean build to bully her tiny frame and shorter stature.  This mainly consisted of “forcing” her into endless performances of ‘Annie’ - starring myself as Annie and MB as every other orphan.  It was necessary for her to play Pepper, Molly, and Duffy in order to support the leading role adequately.  She’s never seemed to quite understand this, or grasp how crucial she was to the critics.  In the end, our differing theatrical philosophies didn’t matter.  I shut us down when we were six years old after a successful 18 month run.  I wanted us to go out on top, which we did obviously.

We’ve came to see more eye-to-eye over the years that followed our early hard knock life together.  We were each others constant companion and best childhood friend.  We bonded not only as a default move (our Mothers were the best of friends), but over numerous common interests.  Not the least of which was a fascination with Pee Wee Herman that eventually included a love letter when we were eight - BEYOND creepy taking into consideration his unfortunate notoriety for a proclivity to expose himself.  Looking back, clearly we would rescind that letter if we could, but we wouldn’t take back our love for the word of the day.  By the way, that reminds me: the word of the day today is…BALLERS!!!  I just screamed that in case you missed the all-caps and exclamation points.  Now scream from here on every time you hear BALLERS.

By far our most impressive achievement throughout childhood and our early teen years was attending any camp that existed in the South.  Understand that I’m dead-serious here.  To be specific, Mary Beth and I attended every (and I mean EVERY) camp of ANY kind that took place in anywhere in Birmingham during the summer.  This meant that not only did Mary Beth and I endure physical torture at the hands of collegiate volleyball players (the one sport we didn’t play) - but also that we were dropped off at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens at a god-forsaken time to tend to our plants at dawn, as participants in Gardening Camp.  Summary: you plant some crap, sweat in a greenhouse in the Deep South for hours while learning about botany…then return the next morning to discover that not a damn thing has changed.  If there had been a camp where children were taught to watch paint dry, I have no doubt our Mothers would have signed us up.

We’ve been through a lot.  Love and loss and death in our very close families.  Invaluable members of a children’s ball-handling team shaped after the Harlem Globetrotters.  (Which was incredible.  We performed at NBA halftimes - MB and I are LEGIT ballers and we made final cuts for that team every year until we quit).  We debuted together, dealt with each others psycho boyfriends, supported one another in the darkest hours, and were both bridesmaids in the others wedding.  Years rolled on and we ended up in a bible study together.  We learned what love can look like, found how much we could truly depend on one another, and discovered new depths within our friendship.  It’s been pretty amazing.  And there’s something about those relationships that you know will precede both parties.  Like sisters, we don’t have a choice about being a major part of each others lives - until the very end.  But unlike sisters, ours is a friendship of the heart that was won by grace.  It took years of maturing, vulnerability, honesty, persistence, and intentional pursuit.  This is something we have fought for and treasure.

And now here we are, still on our journey - one in Los Angeles on a bizarrely wild adventure, the other in the South raising a family.  One of us is researching tattoos and seems to have left her proper Southern upbringing somewhere along The 10 (my guess is in the dust of Arizona).  One of us is conquering adulthood and social etiquette while dressing her small children in smocked clothing.  We don’t seem any different though.  It’s a strange and truly awesome dynamic that we’ve been blessed with.

And so the generations march forth.  Mary Beth now has a little girl of her own.  Mary Liza is her second child.  And I remember her mother at her age.  Wow.

On a quick trip home recently, I shot the two of them sitting in the backyard.  This shot means so many things to me…and hopefully you can understand after all that verbiage I threw out above.  If you’ve made it this far in the post - CONGRATULATIONS.  ADHD run rampant makes for straight up shoddy writing.  With that said, here are my loves:

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This makes my heart happy…

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