Saturday, June 27, 2009

Let's Start At The Very Beginning

For as long as I can remember, I have loved watching the Junior Miss scholarship program. Over the years, I have had the chance to watch all of the different levels...local, state and national. Thanks to the world wide web, I have just finished watching America's Junior Miss. I am shedding a few, or quite a few, tears. In fact, I have been crying pretty much since the start of the program.

It would be understandable if I knew someone that was competing, but I don't. Then again, I didn't know anybody competing 7 years ago either and I cried my eyes out then.

Seven years ago, I was sitting in the den with my mom watching America's Junior Miss on TV. We had paper and pencil in hand so that we could write down our favorites and from the moment she introduced herself, I knew who I wanted to win...Mississippi. I don't have that piece of paper anymore, but I would be willing to bet that I wrote Mississippi with 5 stars beside it.

I was delighted when the field was narrowed down and the young lady from Mississippi was included. That meant that I would get to see her do the physical fitness routine...and her talent...and answer the interview question during the poise portion.

As the program progressed, she continued to get more stars and there was no doubt in my mind that she was the one I wanted to win. Mom liked her too. There was no doubt...we were fans of Mississippi. There was another round of narrowing down and Mississippi was still there. I knew she was going to win. They announced the 4th, 3rd and 2nd runners-up. We were down to two contestants...Mississippi and Oregon. I was practically jumping out of my skin. Two seconds later, Oregon, not Mississippi, was selected as America's Junior Miss. I cried a few tears, or a few more that a few, tears. Tears over a girl that I had never heard of or seen before.

It wasn't that I didn't like Amy Kerr from Oregon...but that young lady from Mississippi had grabbed my attention from the introduction and my heart just ached.


Flash forward to the fall of the next year. I was a freshman at The University of Alabama. During the first weeks, my roommate and I pretty much left our door open all of the time. It seemed that it would be the best way to get to know the others on our hall. One day, I was sitting on the bed in my room and someone with a familiar face walked by, but I couldn't figure our where I had seen her. The next day, the same familiar face went by, but this time I almost started hyperventilating because I was pretty sure I recognized who it was. After a quick search of the dorm, my hunch was confirmed. Yes, was the girl that I had cheered for and cried over a little over a year ago...Mississippi's Junior Miss.

Since she was pretty much a celebrity to me, there was no way that I would be talking to her, but I could smile, and smile I did. I'm pretty sure I smiled every single time she walked by. Then one day, that sweet girl from Mississippi asked me if I wanted to go to TCBY with her and life as I knew it totally changed.

Don't worry, I didn't tell her that I had cried over least not immediately...I waited a good 6 months before divulging that little bit of information.


7 years after seeing her on TV and 6 years after meeting her, I still can't get over the fact that Mississippi's Junior Miss in 2002...Natalie Pope my very best friend.

This blog is full of stories that include her and reasons why I'm thankful for her, but tonight as I sat here---watching AJM, thinking back on the memories and crying, I realized that the story of how we became of my very favorites...has not been blogged about before. So, there it is. Just another reminder that there is no "right way" to meet a friend.

Part of me can't believe I'm posting this picture...goodness, I look terrible and we look so young. We have taken so many pictures over the years, but I do believe this was the first one, so that's why I'm posting it here. Am I right, Natalie? Is this the first picture?

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