05 January 2009
Twenty years ago, I first wandered the halls of Pioneer Hall. I had met Nancy, a fellow student and Pioneer Hall resident, in an algebra class, during my first quarter. She invited me to meet her roommate and House 6 neighbors, as I had moved into the dorm a few weeks into the quarter and had not yet met many people. Nancy introduced me to Beth, who lived directly across the hall. Beth was gregarious and friendly, asking me early this initial meeting, "What's wrong with being stranded?" I was initially confused by this question and curious why someone would ask this. Shortly thereafter, I was to learn that "Strand" is Beth's surname. I was intrigued and amused by Beth's quick wit and razor sharp observations.
Beth and I became friends throughout our Freshman year. We would chat for hours and hours (and hours) in her dorm room, surrounded by the black and white, post modern posters of New Order, Joy Division, and Depeche Mode. We often discussed our future academic and career aspirations. Beth had "officially" declared her major as pre-med while I was "officially" undecided, learning toward a Psychology major, or possibly French, while also considering Political Science. (What can I say, the world was our oyster and full of endless possibilities!)
Not particularly surprising, we were irreverent and silly, enjoying the "off the wall." We delighted in Delilah, a creation of a discarded witch pinata head, crumpled up newspaper, and Beth's gold lame pantsuit, a high school 4H entry. With Delilah in the background, propped up in Beth's desk chair with a Donald Duck pipe in "her" mouth, Beth and I spent hours discussing our new found Pioneer Hall friends, upcoming social gatherings, and occasionally our current course load, among other things (We were in college to learn, after all). ;) One bitterly cold winter afternoon, we walked across campus to two drug stores seeking out boxes of the same red hair color (the first drug store had only one box), wondering to each other if "anyone would notice" our new hair dye experiment. We designated "Pastel Day" (a day in which we would only wear pastel, as compared to our usual much darker tones...I made it through mid afternoon and then changed clothes.) We laughed when dorm resident, Pietro, would shout across the Pioneer courtyard, "I am not wearing any pants" on a weekly basis. (We were 18 years old and thus, easily amused, it would seem).
The Pioneer Hall days are long behind us and Beth and I have since settled into our "adult" lives (whatever than means). Hopefully, we have moved beyond matching hair color, pastel attire, and sophomoric comments (admittedly, the last assertion is a stretch but one can always hope). We have forged ahead in our schooling and careers (Beth more so than me at this juncture, it would seem) . We have become Mamas to children whom we love, adore, and hug more than they would like, at times. We have experienced the joyous "peaks" and painful "valleys" of romantic and platonic relationships. We have held several jobs and lived in different locales. We have also experienced unimaginable loss in the deaths of our parents and grandparents. Through success and failure, happiness and sorrow, Beth and I have remained friends during these twenty years.
On Friday evening, I drove to Beth's home while our children were spending some quality time with their dads. It was a very, very rare circumstance, indeed. No kids. No dogs. No work. No tasks. Just two old friends hanging out.
We kicked back, checked out the local bar and grill, and toured the town. We enjoyed Beth's Christmas tree and fireplace while we talked throughout the evening. We listened to the alternative music channel and chatted about the past, the present, and our futures. We could let our hair down. No worries. No pretense. As Beth suggested, "we can be ourselves with each other and neither one of us judges."
In this season of resolutions and promises, goals and hopes are often lost in the shuffle as the year progresses. I have resolved to take more stock in the many blessings that I have in my life. One of these many blessings is my friendship with Beth. I am grateful for all that she does and most importantly, all that she is.