Last evening, my husband and I got together with some of my college girlfriends for dinner and drinks. This was unusual for a couple of reasons. One is that it is far more common for us to get together with my husband’s fraternity buddies or work colleagues and their spouses than for my friends to be at the center of our plans.
The other unusual aspect to the evening was that these women have known each other since the Seventies, yet when we get together (all too infrequently), it seems as easy and natural as wandering down to one another’s rooms in the sorority house where we became friends so long ago.
When I was a freshman at the University of Illinois, I reluctantly decided to participate in sorority rush. After all, my lifelong pal and roommate was rushing, as were my two new besties across the hall. Now, sorority rush was not a natural fit for me. I was shy and not very good at small talk. I didn’t wear the most fashionable outfits, and I had a lot of insecurities. Needless to say, the number of bids I received to join a sorority were few. I declined to pledge.
But my good friend Lori did pledge a sorority called Alpha Gamma Delta, and she encouraged me to meet the girls in the house and spend some time over there. After a period of informal rushing in the spring, I was offered a chance to join AGD, and I accepted.
Being part of a sisterhood was very good for me. I was a rule follower, so I took naturally to all the regulations and expectations that were part of being a member. (True to my nerdiness, I became Scholarship Chairman during my years there.) And the ability to live with a group of women and really get to know them helped me feel a sense of friendship and belonging. It also allowed my “sisters” to get to know the real me beneath the shy and awkward exterior.
I have fond memories of endless conversations around the popcorn maker in someone’s room; skits and spontaneous performances by some of our more flamboyant members; dances and socials and nights out at the bars proudly sporting our Greek letters and garish red, yellow and green sorority colors. (Well, maybe my memories of those nights are a bit fuzzy.) My sorority sisters were my anchor in a giant sea of undergrads at a Big 10 university.
Nowadays when I get together with these sorority sisters, our conversation tends more toward updates on our children and careers, travels we have taken, and yes, a little reminiscing about those college days. And it is still my friend Lori who pulls me back into the warmth of that sisterhood we shared way back when.
So to paraphrase one of our songs from back then:
Here’s to my sisters, my sisters, my sisters
Here’s to my sisters, who were with me last night
So drink chug-a-lug, drink chug-a-lug
Drink another glass of wine chug-a-lug
Here’s to my sisters who helped make my days bright