Growing up, I had a cousin who was just a few years older than me. Even though our age difference wasn’t much, there were always things he was allowed to do and I wasn’t. When I was 6 years old, I dreamt of a time when I would be big enough/old enough to walk to the local Quick Trip convenience store (affectionately known as QT up in Iowa). My cousin would walk or ride his bike to QT after school. He always seemed to have his very own money to spend on really cool candies and gum. At that tender age, I found this infatuating.
As I got older and came back to Iowa to visit family, I was ready for my first trek to QT on my own. By then the city constructed a busy road in front of the store and I can’t remember ever being able to walk up there by myself. I do remember my cousin often shared some of his shopping spoils.
We use a term in Girl Scouts called “tagalong.” The term refers to a girl who comes to a Girl Scout event but isn’t an official scout (yet). The organization has even named the popular peanut butter and chocolate covered cookie after it. I love tagalongs, and they often become Girl Scouts after just a small taste of the fun of scouting.
Earlier this spring, we learned my cousin and his in-laws would have a possible contender in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Being the horse racing fans we are, my family was excited with anticipation. A few short weeks before the race was set in Louisville, my parents invited my husband and I to come with them. We were elated!
It seemed like a plan to get the two of us out of town together came together overnight. Good friends stepped up to help with our four kids, neighbors pitched in to do our chores and my parents even met us in Missouri so we could ride together. A dear friend who understands my loathing of shopping helped me put together the perfect outfit and hat for all of the Derby’s festivities. We were off to the races!
While on our trip, we had the privilege of visiting a stallion farm in the Lexington area. The pristine pastures and barns looked like something out of a movie. It was absolutely beautiful. The horses and hospitality were memorable. We enjoyed checking out Keeneland race track and watching the fillies run during the Kentucky Oaks on the simulcast TVs.
The day of the Kentucky Derby race, Churchill Downs did not disappoint. Even though it was raining, the parade of men’s and women’s fashions came from all corners of the world to celebrate. The people-watching was priceless. It was a beautiful celebration of our American history and tradition. The racetrack’s history was breathtaking.
We were so thankful when the sun came out and the day’s races began. After all the pomp and circumstance of the Derby was finished, we were on the edge of our seats. Surrounded by friends and family we had fun cheering on what had come to feel like “our” horse. The track was muddy and the race was hard fought. My cousin’s horse didn’t finish first and he wasn’t last. We were so proud to be a small part of a very special day. Once again, in our forties, I am so thankful this time I was able to “tagalong,” neighbor.