It’s really mind boggling to me that it has been 18 years since I made the decision to attend the University of Idaho. I suppose, in all honesty, that I didn’t have a lot of other options. The universities on my short list were narrowed considerably by the price of tuition and my rather mediocre high school GPA. (A paltry 3.2. Good, but not great.) At the time I think I faked a little bit of disappointment over not being offered a huge scholarship to attend a prestigious Catholic university like Gonzaga or Notre Dame. But really, I had wanted to be a Vandal ever since the 5th grade when (my BFF) Jennifer Perry’s older sister went to Moscow and pledged the Delta Gamma Sorority.
She would come home for break with Greek letters on her shirt, a pack of beautiful DG “Sisters”, and stories about how much F.U.N. they were having and how much havoc they were wrecking. Ohmahgosh…I was hooked.
I vividly remember being invited to a Panhellenic recruitment event at someone’s house the summer after high school graduation. There were about a dozen confident and poised looking college co-eds, and about 30 wide eyed soon-to-be freshmen. We mingled in the lawn drinking punch and asking the older girls questions about where we were going to sleep and what we should pack, and they sized us up to see if we would be (Insert Greek Letters Here) Material.
I remember being a little nervous about Rush. But I am fairly certain that my heartbreak over parting ways with my high school boyfriend was taking center stage those last few weeks of summer. And then, about a week before I had to leave for college I caught pneumonia and all I was worried about was missing Rush altogether. It didn’t really occur to me that it was an audition of sorts until after the first day, when I found myself anxiously waiting to see if I had been “dropped” by any of the houses I liked.
While we waited another girl in my Rush group, Jen, and I rehashed our day. I remember being really focused on who had the nicest rooms, the biggest closets, and the most impressive looking house on the intimidating and beautiful Old Greek Row. Jen said that we would probably both end up in the “Brady Bunch” looking house. We may have shuddered.
It’s weird to me that I can’t remember where I put my car keys 90 percent of the time. But I can remember this absolutely vividly. About midway through the week I attended my 3rd round of Rush parties. I sat on the floor of the living room at Gamma Phi Beta – the “Brady Bunch House” – and realized that those girls I was talking to (Kendal, Gloria and Angel specifically) were the girls I wanted to live with. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be liked by them. I wanted to be a part of that easygoing, natural, and honest friendship that they clearly shared.
Suddenly stakes were higher and Rush got scary. I got dropped by a house for the first time that night. And even though it was a house I didn’t want to live in, it freaked me out that they didn’t want me. What if Gamma Phi didn’t want me?
The last night of Rush is called Preference night. The women on my campus attend two final parties at two final houses. In sorority land, it is quite simply, A BIG FAT DEAL. And we all knew it. I was in my prom dress. I had a package of Kleenex in my pocket and butterflies engaging in some WWF in my stomach. I was invited to Preference parties at two lovely sororities and would be spending time with two women who were each going to do their best to convince me of where I needed to be. It was a beautiful night, and a pretty tough sell by Delta Gamma. But a sweet junior named Melanie at Gamma Phi Beta made my lil’ heart sing when she told me with such sincerity that I belonged with the Gamma Phi’s.
I don’t know that I will ever be able to really put into words what an impact all of that, and the 4 years that followed had on my life. I know that it sounds really sappy. It is a little sappy. But if this gives you any indication of how important my Sisters have been to me…I am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks just typing this out.
This weekend about 500 Gamma Phi Betas descended on my college campus for the 100 year Anniversary of Xi Chapter. There was a woman there who pledged Gamma Phi Beta in 1937. There was a tiny 12 week old girl named Emory who was instantly dubbed a future Gamma Phi. Most of all, there were 8 decades worth of friends who were there because of what we, and our sisterhood has meant to us for all these years.
If you have been reading this blog for more than 5 minutes I don’t think I need to explain to you that my girls know how to get their party on. We had big fun. My sides hurt from laughing, I have lost my voice, and my liver ran out a white flag sometime yesterday afternoon. It was good times.
I know that if I tried to tell you about what it meant to me to spend time with those women who I love so fiercely it would come out really trite and schmoopy. So I am just going to say that after 18 years I am still awestruck by our collective beauty. Not just because we are totally smokin’ hot mamas. But because we are an incredibly smart, strong, fun, funny, wise, selfless, kind, and loyal group of women.
I am so lucky to have my sisters. I love you guys.