Georgia & Chelda—Heartwarming Story From Ties That Bind
As the season of football, pumpkin-flavored everything, and jacket weather begins to hit us, we know there’s nothing like curling up with a hot beverage and a great book to embrace the fall. To assist you on this seasonal-journey, StoryCorps gives you Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps–now in paperback! (For easier transport from the bookstore to that really cozy spot on the couch).
We hope you enjoy this special excerpt from Ties That Bind–just a small gift from us to you!
In 2009, two best friends, Chelda Smith and Georgia Scott, sat down in our Atlanta, GA StoryBooth to talk about all the crazy twists and turns their relationship has taken over the years. This story has never been broadcast and is only available in Ties That Bind. So plump the pillows, rock your favorite autumnal sockwear, and enjoy the read! Be sure to look for Chelda & Georgia among so many other powerful stories in Ties That Bind–out in paperback 9/30!
Chelda Smith, 24, talks with her best friend, Georgia Scott, 26
Chelda Smith: I remember growing up and picturing this fairy-tale life. The Huxtables had five kids, Brady Bunch had a whole bunch of kids–but I didn’t have the family network that I wanted. So I just decided that my friends would have to make my picture come true. When I was fifteen, I was on summer vacation in Atlanta from Boston, and I went to the local library just to find something to do–and I saw you. You’re a talker, and we just really took off. While I was there for the summer, we hung out every day. I think we were both shopping for a good friend, and we became inseparable. You told me about the HOPE scholarship program–how if you graduate from a Georgia high school with a B or higher average, you can go to college for free. We were both going into the twelfth grade, so I convinced my parents to let me move down to Atlanta to go to school and get the scholarship. [Laughter.] And so I went to live with you.
Georgia Scott: You became a part of my family. We were unusually close, and we didn’t include anybody else into our world–it didn’t really matter who you were. It was Georgia and Chelda, Chelda and Georgia, and nobody else.
Chelda: We each had boyfriends, and if my boyfriend wanted to take me out–
Georgia: –he’d have to take both of us out. We went to the prom with one guy. He in the middle and one of us on either side. And we were perfectly fine with it! [Laughs.]
Chelda: Whatever I lacked, you had. And what you lacked, I had. We were two peas in a pod. We chose the same college and we were roommates in this tiny, six-by-six dorm room. But even though we were roommates at your house, too, this was overkill.
Georgia: I don’t think we’ve ever had this conversation before, but I had a boyfriend who needed a hundred percent of my attention. And you became a social butterfly in college and made other friends. Before it just used to be Georgia and Chelda, but now it was Georgia, Chelda, and a string of other people. And I don’t think I really liked it. I left a year after, and thatâs sort of when we lost touch.
Chelda: We had two separate lives.
Georgia: I think I went maybe a year without speaking to you. And when we did speak, I felt like, I might not feel like talking to you but I just have to make sure youâre alive and kicking.
Chelda: I always missed you, no matter what was going on, no matter how upset or angry or hurt I was. I thought, We’re not ever going to get back to normal. But if I know she’s okay and I keep tabs on her, then I’ll be fine. So I started keeping a log of when I spoke to you. There would be like three-, four-month increments between our conversations. And because our friendship had been so tight, I couldn’t tell other people that we weren’t friends anymore. People knew us as a couple, so when they would say, “How’s Georgia?” “She’s great!” [Laughter.] After college, I went to New York to get my master’s. I was working really hard. I was putting my little ducks in a row and then–wham.
Georgia: I remember you texted me, “I have something to tell you.” And I kind of brushed you off. And then you texted me again and said, “I’m pregnant.”
Chelda: I got pregnant my second year in grad school, and it was a secret. Nobody could know that I got pregnant out of wedlock. I was the one who was going to school and going to get the picket fence and all that, so it was a shock. But your reaction was exactly what I thought itâd be–
Georgia: I was there the following day.
Chelda: I had been by myself in New York, but you stayed the whole time and took care of me–cooked for me, cleaned for me–and didn’t leave. I thought that was amazing. We’d argue, and you’d disappear for a day–and then come back to cook breakfast. [Laughter.]
Georgia: It was cool being there while you were pregnant, watching how your body changed, literally in front of my eyes. I saw the mood swings and the panic attacks and the back pain and all of it.
Chelda: You’re not the most pro-baby person, but you were very positive. We followed the books to the T, and I had an awesome pregnancy. Having my son was the best decision for me–and for our friendship.
Georgia: And I’ve learned that you are the positive factor in my life, and that no matter what the situation is, you’re the one person that will show me that the glass is half full and not half empty. And I need that.
Chelda: In many ways, Georgia, you raised me. We had the memory of what our friendship was, and we fought for a long time to get it back. Because I always missed you, no matter how upset I was. And so now, even if we don’t speak every day, I don’t question whether our friendship is worth it. Now I fully understand what your role is in my life. You stepped up and were with me every day. So I just want to say, Thank you.
Recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 12, 2009.
StoryCorps OutLoud Launches in Chicago!
You may remember earlier this year when we launched our new, exciting initiative–StoryCorps OutLoud. We continued the OutLoud celebration at our StoryBooth location in Chicago!
The night was all about celebrating the LGBTQ communities in the Windy City with 150 guests gathering at Marwen–a beautiful community arts space in the heart of the city. Our host for the evening, La Tony, had the crowd in stitches all night as everyone got into the OutLoud spirit with powerful stories, performances, beats by DJ All The Way Kay, and, of course, great people.
All event photography credit goes to ALISSA PAGELS PHOTOGRAPHY.
We saw so many familiar faces from past participants, partners and supporters from all over the Chicago area–including Lambda Legal, Trans Oral History Project, and Affinity Community Services, just to name a few–and were happy to welcome some new friends to the party too!
From an incredible performance by LGBTQ youth performance group YEPP (Youth Empowerment Performance Project) to a fierce show by the Chicago drag queen Saya Naomi capping off the evening, the event was nothing short of awesome.
As our very own Shirley Alfaro (StoryCorps in Chicago’s Regional Manager) put it during the event, “StoryCorps is here for the community.” We cannot wait to hear the many voices of the Chicago LGBTQ communities as they record their stories with us–StoryCorps OutLoud in Chicago has begun!
Huge thanks to all the performers, YEPP, Saya Naomi, La Tony, All The Way Kay, StoryCorps in Chicago staff: Anne Ford, Adriana Cargill, Shirley Alfaro, Alicia Williams, Andre Perez, Gautam Srikishan, and Katie Klocksin; and finally, Andrew Wallace, OutLoud Manager, for making the night such a success!
MORE PHOTOS OF THE NIGHT