I remember the night I got asked to host The Drag’s “Lady Bird” podcast. A few months before that night, I’d been hired to help The Drag’s managing director, Katey Outka, with some research. I came into the project without really knowing anything about Lady Bird Johnson. But I jumped right in, still in shock that I was actually working at The Drag.
I started reading Lady Bird’s oral history interview transcripts. I visited the Wildflower Center and the LBJ Presidential Library. I tried to get a feel for who she was as a person.
Then I was in The Drag office talking through all the things I had learned about Lady Bird — childhood, falling in love with Lyndon Johnson, becoming a mom, and navigating the worlds of politics and power. Katey and Quigley asked me to stay after everyone else had left. And then they asked me if I wanted to host the podcast.
I said yes.
I left the office, feeling waves of both terror and thrill. I called my mom and told her the news … while crying. In the year and a half since that night, I’ve cried over a first lady more times than I probably care to admit.
In that time, I’ve also written and recorded 12 full episodes, plus a few bonus episodes. I’ve interviewed renowned historians, former White House staffers, and Lady Bird’s closest friends and family. I’ve taken reporting trips all across Texas and to Washington, D.C.
That’s one of the really cool things about being a journalist. You get to know people. Step inside their worlds. Understand where they’re coming from and how they got there.
I’ve gotten to know Lady Bird over the past year and a half. But I’ve also gotten to know Duke, Catherine and Christy. Shirley, Neal, Mike and Luci have invited me into their homes. You’ll get to know them, too, as you listen.
And I’ve gotten to know myself better.
Lady Bird has changed my life in a lot of small ways. Like the way that “Wildflowers” by Dolly Parton was my most listened to song on Spotify last year. Or how every time I start to tell my brother a story, he stops me and asks: Is this about Lady Bird? Usually (always) the answer is yes. And I’ve learned that I do in fact have a Texan accent.
Lady Bird has also changed my life in a lot of big ways. I know that I would not be the person or journalist I am today without the opportunity to tell her story. And sometimes I still feel in awe that I’ve been the person who’s gotten to do this.
I graduated college at the beginning of May, from the same school and with the same degree that Lady Bird did back in 1934. The week after I graduated, I went back home to the house I grew up in.
As soon as I pulled into the driveway, I saw wildflowers covering my yard — the same ones that had surrounded me during my entire childhood: primroses, Indian Paintbrushes and Texas Thistles.
Suddenly, it felt like I had started this story a lot longer than a year and a half ago. As if I’d been getting to know Lady Bird for almost my entire life.
And now, pulling into that driveway, I had finally reached the final chapter. My story with Lady Bird ended the same way it began — with wildflowers. Endless in every direction. Roots growing thick and deep. Imperfect in the way that truly beautiful things always are. Existing without a need for recognition.