Once upon a time I went away to college, two and a half hours north of where my parents lived. I went knowing just a few people- one close friend from high school, a couple more from sports- but after growing up surrounded by the same people for so long, it was a totally different experience to be just plopped down in this new place, without my support system all around me. Luckily just over two hours wasn't so far at all, but it was still a shock to suddenly be on my own after being so not on my own my entire life.
They had all of the freshman arrive a week early to get acclimated to our new college world and attend some of the million events and activities happening all over campus. I remember contiuously seeing signs for Greek life and Rush Week and it started to get my wheels turning a bit. Sorority life? I wasn't too sure. I certainly hadn't come to college with the intention of rushing, but in the spirit of "new" that was pervading every inch of my life, I decided to try it out and dragged along my friend from home.
I think sometimes it's hard to really see life-changing events for what they are as they are happening, and I'm not sure if I really grasped just how much this would change my life. There's so much more to say about my four years as a Pi Phi- many more stories for another day for sure- but for now I'll just say that looking all the way back to 2000 I can't even begin to express how fortunate I am that I just did it. Through it and its connections I met my lifelong friends, the girls who I call my sisters and who are deeply intertwined into my life so naturally and easily that it's amazing to just step back and look at this family of friends we've created. We may not all be the same; in fact, we're insanely different, but over the past decade we've all grown together and apart, and back together again in different ways, that our now adult selves are able to really appreciate the strength and stability of our bond even more. We don't all talk all of the time, and naturally some of us are closer than others, but when we are all reunited it's as if no time has passed. And to me, that is the sign of a true friendship.
And now fast forward twelve years to the present. It's Fall again in Flagstaff, the leaves are orange and gold and red. It's freezing out, our breath clouding the air as we laugh and talk, and the clouds hang in the same way around the San Francisco Peaks just as they did ten years ago. I walk arm in arm with the girls I spent four years laughing and partying and studying with. The girls who have seen it all. We talk about old times and we catch up on our todays. We reminisce at how strange it is to be back together in this place, visiting our old haunts and walking the same steps we did, way back in the beginning. And we make wishes for the future, looking ahead to a day just like today and yesterday, when the six of us will walk arm in arm together again as little old ladies, thinking how strange it is to be back together in this place, visiting our old haunts and walking the same steps we did when we were young.
She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It's good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind
-Toni Morrison, Beloved
-Toni Morrison, Beloved