Shopper News blog: Tori Barrett imports affordable vintage Turkish rugs – Knoxville News Sentinel

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HALLS/FOUNTAIN CITY

Tori Barrett imports affordable vintage Turkish rugs

Ali James, Shopper News 

Tori Barrett may just have a thing for vintage rugs. “I started collecting rugs about four years ago just as home décor,” said Barrett. “I always found myself pining after handmade rugs, but the price tag always brought me back down to earth, so thrift shop rugs had to do.

“It wasn’t until right before my wedding that I decided one day that I would figure out where these beautiful works came from.”

Rather than just decorate her Fountain City home, Barrett took the next step and parlayed her passion for vintage rugs and finds into a shoppable Instagram page, _goodsbytoribarrett_.

“I decided to start selling vintage handmade rugs quickly after I realized I could be the source for people to affordably purchase rugs, instead of having to spend thousands of dollars at a rug store.”

Barrett’s rugs are the real deal. “I have my rugs imported straight from my sources in Turkey, and they have quickly become close friends,” she said.

Buying vintage rugs is environmentally friendly, according to Barrett. She points out that vintage 100% wool rugs are made to last for ages.

Another fun fact? No rug is like another, she said. “Each one is woven by hand with perfect ‘flaws’ that make each unique. Maybe like a sister, but not twins.”

At any given time, Barrett admits to having anywhere from 25-75 rugs in a variety of sizes in her home.

“I’m not sure my husband loves having that many, but it sure does make the house look nice,” she said.

The most popular size are the mini Turkish rugs, according to Barrett. “These are perfect for kitchen sinks, entryways or bathrooms,” she said. “I also have medium to large sized area rugs at all times, too.”

Runners are a different story. “Occasionally I keep them around, but runners are usually custom sourcing situations because they need to be an exact length for someone,” said Barrett. “My rugs are almost always bold Turkish designs, but I stock neutrals for my customers as well.”

The Turkish rugs are styled and photographed before they are posted on the Goods by Tori Barrett Instagram page along with the price and size.

“Anyone who sees an available rug for sale on my Instagram is always welcome to comment to claim or direct message me for more information and payment details,” she said.

To accessorize a modern bohemian look, Barrett will occasionally sell other thrifted finds, such as wicker plant holders, bohemian furniture or other practical vintage goods. “I have always sold my own artwork, which ranges from handmade prints to textiles, earrings, as well as salvaged Turkish rug purses,” she added.

Recently, Barrett teamed up with two other local businesses to do in person pop-up sales. “@bohogrlco and @plant.rambler are my partners for the sales, and they specialize in fiber art and other goods as well as house plants galore,” she said.

“It has been such a joy seeing all three of our businesses come together for the sales. We keep saying that if ‘bohemian’ is your vibe you’re in the right place.”

Barrett also mentioned on Instagram that her rugs are available to rent out for events and photo shoots.

The next pop-up sale on the trio’s calendar will be at Retrospect, 1121 N. Central St., on Sept. 4-5.

KARNS

Karns’ own Kate Kilborn publishes her first novel, ‘Into the Ruin’

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News

Karns has a new author in Karns High School 2006 graduate Kate Kilborn. She wrote a young adult dystopian fantasy and was able to get it traditionally published – practically unheard of for a first-time novelist.

 “Getting it published was really daunting because each publisher has their own set of rules for submission, if they’ll even accept the manuscript. I was told over and over not to expect to get it published because first-time novels are never published and I should just accept it.

“Well, I wouldn’t accept it and finally I got an email from an editor at Thurston Howl Publications who said she loved my book and wanted to work on it. She made it a much better story just by asking questions.

“I’m proud and grateful and thrilled all at the same time that someone liked my book enough to actually publish it.”

The novel takes place in a totalitarian world called Terra Promissa where the government holds absolute power. To question them is to commit treason. The national motto is “Obedience is loyalty, silence is wisdom.”

Citizens are kept in line through fear and deception, particularly about the world outside Terra Promissa, the Ruin. The Ruin is supposedly a world of nothing but death.

Kilborn explained, “The story follows the life of Jasper Flint as she comes of age. When the Onyx Colony premier forces her to marry the infamous bully of the Poverty Sector, Jasper must decide whether to follow the example of her fellow colonists or risk her life and flee Terra Promissa, to take her chances in the Ruin.”

Kilborn spent five years writing her novel and two more getting it published. She spent countless hours in the break room of her full-time job hand writing into a notebook.

She came up with the idea while watching the “Hunger Games” and “City of Ember,” a story about an underground city.

Determination and disgust inspired her. She said she was disgusted with herself for never having finished a story.

“I have been writing for 19 years and never finished a story. Finally I got disgusted with myself and forced myself to sit down and start writing. It wasn’t long before I had a likable character and an intriguing setting in three chapters.

“Like most writers, it’s the getting started that’s the problem. Once I’m writing, I just keep going until I’m exhausted. It’s a joy.”

When she wrote “Into the Ruin,” Kilborn thought her audience would be young adults. She has since found that she has fans in their 50s, 60s and 70s all clamoring for a sequel.

“Until recently, I’ve been debating a sequel. I know what happens to Jasper and how it ends, but I wasn’t sure I had 95,000 words’ worth of story. I’ve now decided that a sequel is doable and the story is bursting to come out.”

“Into the Ruin” is available on Amazon for $10.99.

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HALLS/POWELL

Sisters move in together with Reap the Sew boutique & salon

Ali James, Shopper News

Andrea Vaughn, Alex Winkle and Allyson Halsey have found a third home – and they hope their last – for their clothing and jewelry boutique, Reap the Sew, at 1405 East Emory Road.

Since 2016, the boutique was in the former Groner’s grocery store at Powell Station, and sister Allyson operated the Loft Salon upstairs.

“Our customers frequently said we wish you were back down on Emory Road,” said Vaughn. “We wanted to be in one location with our sister and her salon.”

“Yes, we wanted to be together. It is hard to run up and down the stairs all of the time,” said Halsey.

The sisters credit their faith for their bold new move. “We prayed for a new place,” said Vaughn. “But with your own business you are busy doing everything and rarely get the time to slow down and seek out other locations.

“We were shut down for a month. The quarantine allowed us to slow down and put things in order. God brings beauty from ashes.”

The sisters are longtime family friends with one of the owners of Timber Creek Custom Outdoor Living, and they had a retail space available. “It wasn’t even a white box,” said Winkle. “It was practically a metal storage building.”

Vaughn said they signed the lease on July 1 and since then have put in new flooring, installed lighting and custom fit windows to section off the soon-to-be salon.

“We built the archways into the fitting rooms and salon,” she added, while admitting not everyone could see their vision for their store.

“We wanted it to be really clean looking and fresh, we were a little tired of the darker look,” said Halsey.

The new store is just steps away from Mahalo Coffee and is also convenient to the surrounding neighborhoods.

“The other location was a destination,” said Vaughn.

“This is more of an impulse stop,” added Halsey.

Easy access to the interstate was another bonus, since both boutique and salon customers travel from as far away as Oneida, Jacksboro, Sevierville, and even from across the border in Kentucky or from Asheville.

Reap the Sew boutique sells women’s clothing that ranges from small to large and some extra-large sizes, jewelry and shoes, most of which retails for $50 or less. Over the past year, they have started carrying more athletic wear.

“We have a ton of kids between us, so we get asked if we would carry kids’ clothing,” said Winkle. “We are open to whatever.”

After launching their website https://reapthesewboutique.com/ a year ago, the sisters said they were in desperate need of a warehouse space. The rear of the East Emory Road building now conveniently serves that purpose.

The Powell Station location closed on Aug. 14. “It has taken longer to get it ready, but the setbacks worked perfectly,” continued Vaughn. “While we wait on a final inspection we went ahead and launched our new collection online. Luckily our website has kept us alive.”

Halsey, who is currently enjoying the last days of maternity leave with her 6-week-old baby, had to shut down her salon for a prolonged period, too. “She thought we were crazy,” said Winkle, of the move. “We told her we know this is right, just enjoy your maternity leave and let us take care of it.”

The business has been renamed Reap the Sew boutique & Salon. Halsey and her team of stylists are planning to relocate from The Loft Salon in early September and offer their usual haircut, styling, waxing, eyebrows and wedding makeup, as well as their favorites – braiding and hand-tied extensions.

Reap the Sew planned a soft opening Friday, Aug. 21, and hopes to celebrate a grand opening at a later date. Hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

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NORTH/EAST

Parkridge residents make a splash

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News 

In a time when a global pandemic has loved ones separated and the school year disrupted, when political polarization is the worst ever, and when the news cycle seems to be filled with crisis after crisis, some neighbors in the Parkridge Community decided that something needed to be done.

So they went out on the sidewalk in front of their houses and threw things at each other.

“This was actually my 5-year-old daughter’s idea,” says Joshua Peterson, Parkridge resident and artistic director of River & Rail Theatre Company.

Like many parents, Joshua and Amelia Peterson have been struggling to find creative things to do with their three kids – Penny and her younger brother, Eli, and baby sister, Maeve. “One day Penny decided she wanted to have a Fun Fair,” says Joshua, “so we started talking about carnival games – three-legged race, bobbing for apples – and at some point we talked about a water balloon fight. It was my wife Amelia’s idea to invite the neighbors.”

Out went the invitations on the neighborhood text thread. Five households gave a thumbs-up. The balloons were bought at a big box store that sells kits with water hose attachment, able to fill and seal 50 balloons at a time. The Petersons put them in buckets and delivered the ammo to various front porches. And the fun began.

“I took one direct hit to the side of my face and numerous body blows,” says Keith Richardson, retired career urban housing specialist and former director of Volunteer Ministry Center. “Thankfully all from a distance of well over the mandated 6-10 feet.”

That’s correct – even in the midst of fierce aquatic warfare, social distancing was observed. “It was more like 20 feet,” says Peterson.

David Johnson, Amelia Peterson’s dad, who lives nearby, rode through the chaos on his bicycle. “He got hit on purpose and then joined our team,” says his son-in-law.

On the front lines was the Rev. Meredith Loftis, associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Like everyone in leadership positions, she’s had her hands full during the pandemic, helping to modify and stream worship services for at-home viewing, and later putting in place social distancing protocols for in-person attendance, resumed last June.

“It’s a strange time for anyone to do anything!” she says. “We’re doing fine, but it’s certainly a nice reprieve to do something fun with your neighbors. We had a great time.”

Peterson agrees. “I’ve always wanted to hit a pastor with a water balloon.”

There are rumors that league play may be in the planning. “So they can nail the pastor a few more times,” says Loftis.

Richardson, who donned a raincoat for part of the battle, says, “It was great fun and a wonderful way to let off some steam without hurting anyone.”

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WORDS OF FAITH

There may be meaning for America in the exodus story

John Tirro, Shopper News columnist

In Exodus (1:8-2:10), the story of Moses’s birth begins from someone forgetting relationship, forgetting who brought them to the party, forgetting that they were not self-made, that they had obligations and reasons to be grateful to other people.

It’s easy to miss, as it’s just one short sentence — “Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” — but it sets in motion a lot of the trouble that follows, as well as a passing of power, from the one who forgot, to the ones who remember.

Earlier, in Genesis (39-50), there had been a famine in the land, and Joseph, one of Israel’s sons, had risen from being a prisoner in jail, wrongfully charged, to being in charge of all Pharaoh’s wealth. Given the power of interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, which were pretty scary, Joseph saw famine coming, gathered the land’s food into storage during seven flourishing years, and used the food to keep everyone, including Pharaoh, alive through the famishing times.

That’s what the new leader of Egypt forgot. Now, granted, it’s been 400-some-odd years by the time the new king forgets, but something that big, you’d think would be passed down, generation to generation, that it would be honored. Apparently not in this case.

So what came of this forgetting of relationship? Mistrust, fear, and a whole lot of brutality. The new Pharaoh eyed Joseph’s and his brothers’ descendants with suspicion, grew jealous of their flourishing, saw their well-being as a threat, enslaved them, and “made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every king of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them” (Exodus 1:14).

How did God respond? With people remembering relationship, honoring one another, caring for one another, and a new leader, Moses, rising from this care. Midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, the only people other than Moses with names in this part of God’s story, disobeyed Pharaoh’s law that Hebrew children be killed and worked to save them instead. Moses’s mother and sister set him afloat in a tiny boat on the river, placing him where he would be found by Pharaoh’s daughter’s maids — who may have also been enslaved descendants of Israel or may simply have had empathy as fellow working people — and they brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who placed him in the care of his own mother, to raise him in Pharaoh’s house.

Relationship after relationship, honored and remembered.

This story does not end well for Pharaoh. His son dies (12:29), his army drowns (14:28), and his economy takes a major hit as his workers leave.

By contrast, it goes really well for Israel’s family. They’ve got some wilderness wandering and learning to trust God ahead of them, but they gain freedom and enter the promised land (Exodus 14:29-Joshua 3:17).

America, how are we seeing and treating each other? It’s time to remember relationship.

John Tirro is pastor of music and campus ministry at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Info: sjlcknox.org.

NORTH/EAST

Pamela and Allen Stoutt know about blessings

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News 

Pamela Stoutt opens the door of the Stoutt Family Farm Blessing Box and inspects the jars and boxes of food stacked there.

“Somebody came by this morning to get a few things,” she says. Husband Allen, standing nearby, says, “One lady said we’ve kept them in food for the summer.”

Anyone who knows Pamela Stoutt isn’t surprised that she put up the Blessing Box last spring, right at the start of the pandemic. She’s already been featured on WATE-TV as a “Hometown Hero” for her work with Knoxville’s homeless. Every Tuesday for seven years, she and her friends and family have gone down to Krutch Park, bringing sandwiches, pasta salad and the like so that hungry people can continue their day with a full belly. She’s been enriched by the relationships she’s built with those who have no permanent home.

As for the box, Pamela says, “I’d seen them and I always thought it would be neat to have one.” Friend Sonya Cox gave her one for Christmas last year. When the coronavirus pandemic hit our shores in early spring, the box went up.

Married since 2013, the Stoutts live just down the road from the farm, which they acquired about three years ago. They grow corn, hay and a vegetable garden on its 30-plus acres.

President of the Knox County Farm Bureau Women’s Group since October 2015, Pamela has farming in her blood. “I grew up around my aunt and uncle’s farm in the John Sevier community,” she says. “I guess that’s where I acquired my passion for agriculture.”

She and Allen hadn’t been married too long when they spotted a farm for sale. “We just fell in love with it. We both work it. It’s mainly just the two of us.”

On the farm, right alongside Strawberry Plains Pike, is a tiny, old family graveyard. Allen’s eyes twinkle when he tells its story. “There was a dispute between the Blake family and the Beal family in the 1800s. It was over a cow. The Blakes settled the whole thing by deeding a little piece of property to the Beals.” The Blakes are now the Stoutts’ neighbors – and good friends – and the Beal family maintains the cemetery.

Allen says “there are good neighbors all around,” and one of them – a veteran who has struggles of his own – made use of the Blessing Box when he needed it. After he got a job in a grocery store, he started contributing to it. “He doesn’t have much,” says Allen.

“It’s like ‘the widow’s mite,’” says Pamela, referencing the biblical story about the woman who gave all of what little she had. The Stoutts are faithful members of New Harvest Church of God.

“If we all work together, we can achieve a common goal,” says Pamela. “And if you can help someone, bring a smile to their face, that’s payment enough.”

SOUTH

South Knox library adapts with story-time kits to go

Ali James, Shopper News 

Before the South Knoxville library branch could reopen on July 17, the staff had a lot of work to do. “We were able to come in on the Tuesday prior to opening,” said senior assistant Sara Hurst. “Just about every surface was covered in books to be reshelved. Our shelves were full.”

The library books are usually in circulation, but for the first time, all of the books were inside the library building.

“We have an overflow of picture books; they aren’t moving as they did previously,” added Hurst. Those books are more likely to be browsed before they are checked out.

The Knox County Health Department has advised against libraries bringing children in for the usual story times and programs, according to Hurst.

“I was doing them every week and all of that stopped,” said Hurst, who also misses the popular summer reading programs. “Once we returned to work and got settled, I started brainstorming what I could do to get children used to coming back in and giving them something to get excited about.”

Parents are not bringing their children nearly as often, according to Hurst. “I don’t know if there is a fear,” she said. Hurst’s solution was a to create a story-time kit to go for preschoolers. She rolls out a new theme every week, and families can stop by anytime between Monday and Friday to check out a themed craft kit, along with two library books.

“I didn’t want to overwhelm parents, so I started with one book and one craft, but then I decided that two books made it more like a kit,” said Hurst. “I try to come up with a general theme, using books we have on our own library shelves.”

A library card and basic supplies, such as crayons, glue and scissors, are required. Depending on the craft, everything else – stickers, colored paper, yarn, glitter glue and instructions – are in the kit.

Hurst’s new concept made its debut on Aug. 10 with beach-themed books and materials to make a dancing jelly fish. The 10 prepared kits were quickly snapped up by Hurst’s regular patrons, and some families traveled across town to check out a kit.

Branch manager Fredda Williams said they are piloting the projects and if they do well, other branches may start offering the kits, too.

Last week’s theme was “Back to School” and included a paper backpack craft to decorate. Aug. 24 the theme will be “Bugs,” Sept. 8 the theme is “Fruits and Vegetables,” then it’s “Dogs” for Sept. 14 and “Moon and Stars” for Sept. 21.

Hurst said the new procedures have been a real adjustment, from wearing a mask to quarantining books for 72 hours after they are returned.

“I’m excited to be back and see all of my patrons,” she said. “It’s just different, not being able to do the (children’s) programs – they were the highlight of my week – seeing the kiddos and getting to know them.”

Hurst said it’s been a slow start. “I think that the combination of no computers and programming, (which) are the two reasons people would come in the door,” she said.

Over the years, Hurst said she has floated among the library branches and discovered that the South Knoxville library branch is more community-driven than some others. “You know so many people who come in, you see them a couple of times a week and you’re a part of their lives.”

South Knoxville Library is also offering Library to Go, where patrons can browse the online catalog, check out books and arrange for curbside pickup.

Info: www.knoxlib.org/about/hours-and-locations/south-knoxville-branch-library.

KARNS/HARDIN VALLEY

CottonTail Soaps rides the wave of COVID commerce

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News 

Many businesses have had to pivot to stay afloat during the pandemic. Event vendors are no doubt some of the hardest hit, but that didn’t stop Elizabeth Legere and her business, CottonTail Soaps and More. She made the change from vending at Cherokee Caverns to e-commerce.

“I vended for years at Cherokee Caverns. It’s like a family there and the Whidbys and other vendors became true friends. It was so much fun. Then the pandemic hit and I had to find a whole new way of doing business. I had to have a website.

“I’m really proud of my website. I did it myself and it took hours and hours to get it right. People buy from my site and from my Facebook page. Thank goodness for Facebook. I also have open houses at my house sort of like a garage sale, but not outside. My soaps are delicate and they can’t take the August heat because they have no preservatives in them at all.”

Legere started CottonTail Soaps and More in 2017 because her son has sensitive skin and was allergic to commercial soaps.

“I had to start making my own, which wasn’t hard to do because members of my family have been making soap for years. It’s a family recipe my grandmother gave me.

“It’s great for people with sensitive skin because there’s nothing in it but fat, lye, water, fragrance, and mica colors. Mica comes from the earth, and I use organic olive oil instead of animal fat, so it’s vegan. That’s very unusual.

“If my son can use this soap, anyone can.”

Legere offers a line of soaps, body oils, bath salts, scrubs and liquid hand soap, all chemical free.

She has cleverly packaged her product into “Bunny Bags,” which come with two full-size bars, two “Bunny Butts,” a half-size coffee scrub, handmade face cloth, and a handmade soap riser for $20.

She also offers Mini Bundles, which come with a full-size bar of soap, a handmade facecloth, and a handmade riser for $10.

“I have a friend who crochets the facecloth – it’s incredibly soft – and another friend who makes the riser by hand. The whole bundle makes for a great quick gift and it’s only $10. Of course, you can get anything a la carte from my website, but the bundles really save you money and come ready to wrap for gifts.”

Her soaps are the size of a typical bar of soap, around 3.5 ounces.

“Some soap makers make tiny bars of soap. My bars are the same size as commercial soaps. I want them to be a good bargain for people with sensitive skin and for those who just like to baby their skin. Some bars are $10 to $15 for just one bar, but mine are only $5.”

Legere expanded her shop in January to include boutique clothing.

Find CottonTail Soaps and More on Facebook or visit www.CottontailSoapsNMore.com.

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FARRAGUT

Virtual meetings to continue; brewpub zoning addressed

Margie Hagen, Shopper News 

Announced by Vice Chairman Ed St. Clair at the Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 20, an executive order from Gov. Bill Lee extended the ban on in-person local government meetings; in Farragut they will continue to be conducted via Webex and broadcast live on TDS channel 3 and Charter channel 193 through the end of September.

That’s been frustrating for residents used to attending and speaking at meetings. Currently, Citizen Forum comments are emailed to the town; submit them to comments@townoffarragut.org by noon on meeting day to be read into the minutes.

Town officials had planned on resuming in-person meetings at the Community Center after Aug. 31, but the order prevents that. When they do begin again, complying with social distancing means public seating will be limited to around 26. Officials and staff will have to be distance-seated too. New meeting protocol and sanitizing procedures will be in place when the order is lifted.

An amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow for brewpubs and microbreweries in certain districts was up for a public hearing and, of course, discussion. Crafted by Trevor Hobbs, it was tweaked by the planning commissioners to more accurately reflect the definitions of each. Simply put, a brewpub must serve food and may include a microbrewery.

Commercially zoned districts like the Mixed Use Town Center and the Regional Entertainment and Employment District along Outlet Drive are likely locations for brewpubs. After rezoning is complete, the Farragut Beer Board will handle permitting and most other business.  

An agenda item that sparked discussion was the issue of food trucks in town. They have been allowed at special events with a small permit fee for several years and will be a feature of the New Admiral’s Landing when it opens, but during the coronavirus restaurant shutdown, some subdivisions invited them to set up in neighborhoods without a permit.

Both Mayor Ron Williams and Vice Mayor Louise Povlin were in favor of allowing food trucks to serve at events sponsored by homeowners associations. Povlin doesn’t want people to feel like they are “sneaking around,” and Williams felt strongly about authorizing them for swim meets, small festivals and other youth activities, but they should have a permit.

A related discussion about how many special events an organization could hold in one year was looked at, with the general consensus being that it should be capped at five.  Both issues will come back to the Planning Commission next month.

Comments for the Citizen Forum were plentiful, with most concerning the Farragut Town Center at Biddle Farms and the construction of Ivey Farms as it relates to Pecos Road in the Saddlebrook subdivision. Short, long, pro and con, hear them all and more on Farragut’s YouTube channel.

OPINION

Old friends ease our burdens

Leslie Snow, Shopper News columnist

I have a wall around me. I’m not sure if it’s designed to keep me locked inside or to keep others out. Maybe both.

The wall protects me from difficult conversations, the kind of conversations people feel obliged to have when someone has suffered a loss. And there are questions, too, so many questions.

How are you coping since your sister passed away? How did she die? Were you able to have a funeral? Were you with her when she passed? 

The questions are meant to show concern, and they do. They’re a sign of love and friendship. But the story of my sister’s death is hard to unpack. There’s no good way to tell it.

She was sick, but she died unexpectedly. She was alone at the end and I couldn’t be with her. And our complicated relationship means the grieving process is complicated too. We had trouble coming together all our lives. Now, in death, we’re having trouble parting.

So, I stay tucked away behind my wall. I respond appropriately to my friends’ questions without giving too much away. I share details but not emotions. I disclose bits and pieces of the story without revealing the whole picture. It’s easier that way. It’s safer.

But the other day, on impulse, I called one of my oldest friends and something in me shifted. 

I was in Ohio helping my parents get ready for their move to Knoxville. And in between loading my car with coffee tables and knickknacks, I took a walk around the neighborhood and called my friend Evy to keep me company. 

Evy and I met in kindergarten and have been friends ever since. We grew up in different homes, but we shared one identity. We were always Evy-and-Leslie. And from kindergarten through high school graduation, we were always together.

We spent our weekdays with the same teachers in the same classrooms. We spent our weekends sleeping across from each other in twin beds, either at her house or at mine. We sat on the floor of Evy’s pink bedroom playing the “Annie” soundtrack on her record player. We talked about boys while we did our English homework.

And when we couldn’t be together, we talked on the phone for hours. I’d pull that long phone cord into my room and we’d read scary stories to each other until it was time to go to sleep.

Evy knows all the small details of my childhood. She knows I didn’t finish my phonics workbook in first grade. She was there when I played spin the bottle and got my first kiss. She comforted me when I didn’t get the lead in the spring musical my senior year.

Evy knows me. So when she asked about Laurie’s death, I let everything pour out. 

I shared my grief and my anger. I explained the complex feelings that make the death of my sister so difficult to process. And when she asked, “Why do you feel that way?” I said, “It was just like third grade all over again.” And she knew just what I meant. I didn’t have to explain a thing. I didn’t have to tell her about all the years I spent trying to forge a relationship with Laurie. She just knew.

Evy and I have been best friends for 50 years. We may not talk every day like we did when we were kids, but I always feel her presence. And when I needed her, she climbed over my wall l to find me.

Leslie Snow may be reached at snow column@aol.com.

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