When I was a freshman in college, the first thing I did was pledge a sorority. I realize it was such a stereotypical move for a former high school cheerleader who came from the suburbs, but at the time it seemed only natural. My parents had regaled us with their Greek college stories all our lives, especially since that was how they had met, in neighboring houses, and I had always seen myself being a part of something that I saw as being so integral to the college experience. In addition, coming to a school several states away from my high school, knowing only one other person (who also happened to be in a fraternity), I was eager to meet as many new faces as possible.
I ended up in Delta Zeta, which did, indeed, play an integral role in my college life.
Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t all amazing. My sorority experience was full of ups and downs and threatening to quit and getting some space and coming back to this giant group of girls who were both crazy-fun and made me crazy. Spending money on dues and fees every month, which is so sparse anyway to a college student, and being required to go to organized functions (only half of which were mind-numbingly fun) — I will admit that I actually questioned or regretted the choice often.
However, looking back now, I don’t think I’d make a different choice if I had it all to do over again. These girls became my sisters, and (to my surprise, I admit) have become a support system for life. We’ve seen each other through marriages and divorces, moves and job changes, babies and tragedies. While the distance may cause some of us to lose touch from time to time, we still rally with the best of them when one of our sisters needs us.
A select few of these girls have remained to me, as the Delta Zeta creed labels, “those closer ones.” The two sorority sisters that stood with me at my wedding have continued to be the two that I can always count on as lifetime friends. We have a tradition every Christmas, to make a point to see each other while I’m in the state of Indiana for a fleeting moment to catch up, see the husbands and kids, and exchange our annual Christmas ornament gifts. It warms my heart that Kristen and Julie both rearrange their holiday schedules to drive to wherever I am and make time to keep this tradition alive.
This year, the tradition was a bit delayed due to my own tight travel schedule, and I made an extra trip out to the midwest on my own in January, making it a girls’ meetup with the added bonus of seeing Kristen’s boys as we stayed at her house outside of Chicago. Again, they still rearranged their schedules to work with mine, drove through hours of horrendous Chicago rush-hour traffic to pick me up (with all four five-and-under boys in tow, bless their little hearts!) so that we could have our traditional weekend of catching up like we had never skipped a beat.
The next night, a few more of our sorority sisters made their way up and we had a post-bars slumber party just like the good old days. We all caught up on each others’ lives — all of us in different places with our families, careers and general lifestyles. Despite the fact that we are all in incredibly different places — both literally and figuratively — we still shared this connection that made it all so comfortable.
I think Kristen said it best when she commented that there is just something special about spending time with the people with whom you became an adult. We know each others’ histories, our mistakes, our triumphs, the good, the bad. No matter how much time has passed, we know each other to our cores and we know what made us into the people we are today. We all obviously have friends that we have met since we entered adulthood, but there is just something about the familiarity of close college friends — who you don’t have to fill in on the backstory or explain anything — that allows you to really relax and be yourself.
It was a wonderful weekend of catching up and getting small glimpses into each others’ lives. Also finding out that we are now the “old ladies” at the bars and that we start to fall asleep before getting too much alcohol in us, while still making sure to order a “wounded turtle” before making a pre-midnight exit. Our college selves would be utterly disappointed in our lack of party power, but I can’t wait until the next time we get to be the even older ladies at the bars, talking about where our lives have taken us next and reminiscing about the memories that will never be forgotten.