Wednesday, June 8, 2011

the family.

In August of 2004, I walked into my dorm room, shut my door, and proceeded to bawl my eyes out.

My parents had left me in a land of Southern accents and sweet tea, and I was lost.

I couldn't fathom the friendliness. I couldn't walk across campus without someone speaking to me. Not waving, mind you. Actually carrying on full-blown conversations with strangers on the way to class. It was a complete mystery to me.

Slowly, I began to love it.

But not without some help.

It came in the form of two boy scouts and a theater geek. Somehow, we found each other. I can't recall the details of how it all began; I'm not sure I ever knew, but the bond was quick. We took road trips, watched movies in the dorm room lobby, piled into the car to look at Christmas lights. I helped paint theater sets and attended every play the Faulkner University Dinner Theater ever put on in order to make up for the fact that there is nary an actor's bone in my body.

In an act of solidarity and freshman year dorkiness, we called ourselves "the family." (Seriously. What were we, the mob?) I suppose, looking back, it was my way of coping: coping with the fact that my own family seemed so far away, that Florida might as well have been Australia as far as my classmates were concerned.

When you're 18, and you've moved away from home, your friends become, for a period of time anyway, your family.

This weekend, we celebrated the wedding of one of our own.

It was the first time in at least four years that we'd seen each other; seven years since those hot August days when we first became friends. Throughout college, we'd drifted in and out of each other's lives, found our own niches at jobs, in our respective academic departments, in social clubs and honors societies. But still, there was, underneath it all, an understanding that we were friends long before we had made names for ourselves on campus, before we edited newspapers and starred in school plays and joined clubs that made some of us bark like bulldogs.

As friends shared funny stories and toasts on Friday night, I did something I never would have done eight years ago: I joined in. I stood up and toasted my friend, the one who had paid attention to me when no one else really did. The one who I told I wanted to be a journalist, so he promptly drove me up to the Birmingham offices of Southern Progress and introduced me to the woman who would eventually become my boss at Coastal Living.

I know friends are seasonal. But I also know there are some friends who are friends for a lifetime.

My college years weren't perfect. But they introduced me to some of the finest people I know. And this weekend, I remembered that lonely, lost 18-year-old girl and the people who loved her and took her under their wings.

Seven years later, they still do. It's a family I'm proud to be a part of.


Anonymous said...

Those are GOOD people. In times of loneliness and fear the ones that are with us are very dear.
While I was sad to read of the lost feeling you felt when you left your home and biological family it is great to hear that such good caring people come together to help us through the journey.


Brooke Bailey said...

I just had a flash back to meeting you in the girls dorm lobby in your FSU get up!!! haha! I love this post. Hits home for me. By the way, the Dinner Theatre is re-locating across Atlanta Hwy to accomodate more guests... so if you're ever in town let's catch a show.

Jennifer said...

I feel the same way about some of my friends from college. Several girls are like sisters to me. I cherish those friendships! We were incredibly dorky!! Oh goodness, if you only knew!

Brittany said...

Oh man, I love this. I'm graduating and feeling so nostalgic about all the families and have and had here at school. They have been the world to me. Especially those lifetime ones.

Dr. Jason Jewell said...

The four of you arrived on campus the same time I did, so this post resonated with me. Faulkner misses all of you!

Merelee said...

This blog made me laugh and cry at the same time...*LOL*...I remember coming back from Labor Day weekend and I walked into my dorm and you and and Nicki were in there...I said something about "coming home" and you and Nicki both screamed "YOU JUST CALLED IT HOME!" funny...I needed this past great seeing you! :D