Fifth grade. That’s when I met her. The new girl down the street — Michelle Steffens. She oozed cool — with her poofy bangs, pleated baggy shorts paired with a color coordinated button up graffiti shirt and K-Swiss tennis shoes. Her family had relocated from Seguin for her stepdad’s job as manager of the local JCPenney. It didn’t matter why she was there, we were instant friends.

Michelle and I were at each other’s house every day. I don’t ever remember her television being on, but I always remember music playing. Her family’s diverse array of music introduced me to the sounds of James Taylor, Amy Grant and her Tender Tennessee Christmas and a higher appreciation for Def Leppard, Michelle’s favorite.

I spent a couple of summers with Michelle at her dad’s home in Seguin. Again, music was always a thing. Her dad had a pool table, and we would play for hours listening to Randy Travis’ Storms of Life on repeat. When we would get tired of that, we’d switch to George Strait, whatever album of his we were feeling at the time, her dad had them all. It was also during one of these visits we attended a local parade and I heard the Texas Tornados for the first time. Life changing.

Michelle lived in Huntsville for three years before her family was moving again, and she was going to attend high school in Seguin. I was heartbroken, but we vowed to stay in touch. And we did. We’d chat on the phone when we could. We’d spend spring breaks together and have summer visits. I was part of her family and she was part of mine.

Through the years, we have remained close friends. When I went through divorce, I found solace with her family. Doing what? You guessed it — singing karaoke. When we had an opportunity to do a Charm story on country singer-songwriter Brandon Ryder at his home in Salado, I reached out to Michelle and her husband to join us. In fact, when we were covering this issue, I stayed with Michelle’s moms in Canyon Lake to cover The Devil’s Backbone.

Music is certainly part of the strands of our friendship. I am so glad to have Michelle in my band.

“As life goes on, you will join other bands, some through friendship, some through romance, some through neighborhoods, school, an army. Maybe you will all dress the same, or laugh at your own private vocabulary. Maybe you will flop on couches backstage, or share a boardroom table, or crowd around a galley inside a ship. But in each band you join, you will play a distinct part, and it will affect you as much as you affect it.” — from “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” — author, Mitch Albom.

Ed Ltr
Ed Ltr