Thursday, July 28, 2011


Brace yourself for some sentiment...I'm about to get sloppy.

When I was seventeen turning eighteen I left NJ to attend uni in The Volunteer State. That's Tennessee in case you didn't know.

When I was eighteen I didn't know.
I was out of my element in the fall of 1978.

It was love at first sight for me and the great state of Tennessee. I fell head over heels for the lakes, the mountains, a certain boy, the gravy, the people and let's not forget, the accent. If you've been reading my blog thinking I have the voice of a Jersey girl you might be surprised to know I have a little Southern drawl. Pretty sure I picked it up about five minutes after I set foot on Southern soil and there it has remained all these many years later.

I did not know one single solitary person on campus when I arrived so I decided to pledge a sorority. Oh, I know some of you out there are rolling your eyes and conjuring up every stereotype you've ever heard or imagined but y'all...these girls...they made my college years some of the best years of my life. For sure some of the most fun. Like most stereotypes I suppose there is a kernel of truth to some of what you hear on some campuses, but most of what you hear is hogwash (is that a Southern expression?). The girls I knew and still know had/have hearts of gold.

When I look back at my life I see that the college years stand alone. The world was at my doorstep and I had one foot placed tentatively out in it while keeping one planted firmly on the safe soil of youth. We lived in one another's pockets way back when and testing your wings was easier knowing someone was there to catch you if you fell.

I don't know if you've spent much time around college aged girls but let me tell My goodness, we liked our drama and just writing that makes me smile. We could take our little problems and discuss and dissect and analyze and cry and laugh like there was no tomorrow. All problems are big problems when you're twenty. I will add that most of my drama revolved around a certain boy who shall remain nameless but who might possibly have married me. Problem solved.

I spent this past weekend at a little informal reunion of some of the girls who were in my sorority. There were about 20 of us there this year, our third get together in six years. Each year we add a few new attendees who bring their photographs and memories and for a little while we remember what it felt like to be poised at the starting line of our adult lives.

I don't see these women very often although thanks to the magic of facebook we are in better touch as a group than we have been in years. We gather at a gorgeous vacation home set high up in the mountains of North Carolina courtesy of one of the girls. We relax. We hang out in our pjs and have long conversations. We share time in the kitchen and we take a lot of pictures, most of which I won't post here because somehow it doesn't feel right. We put our collective brains together as we try to identify long ago friends in old yearbooks and composites. We all pull out the reading glasses too. I guess some things do change.

Most do not.

We compare notes on aging and children and occupations and we marvel at the different paths we've taken that all lead us back to each other. Being with these girls is effortless. Sorry, but they will always be 'girls' to me. We grew into adulthood together. We studied and didn't study together. We laughed ourselves silly over pranks and antics and a few instances of questionable judgement and we cried over hard things that have happened to people we love in the intervening years.

Mostly though, we remember what it felt like to be weightless. I don't mean in pounds, I mean in life. In 1981 we were not yet weighed down by the seriousness of a grown up world. We were still figuring that out along with about a million other things. It was in this sorority, surrounded by these girls that I learned more about friendship and leadership and confidence than any place else. These girls encouraged me to be my best self.

We're all grown up now and as I look around I feel pride at who we have become. We are an accomplished bunch, working as nurses and teachers, pharmacists and therapists, CEO's of businesses and homes, raising families and caring for aging parents. If you were to stumble upon this group you'd see women over 40, okay most of us are over 50, who look like any other group of women. When I look I see something more. Behind the eyes she's there...the 18 year old girl I knew.

We still share something special that defies both description and definition. And we're still challenging and encouraging one another to be our best selves. Oh, and we're still fun too.


  1. Joyce, what an awesome weekend you had!!! Such a beautiful place (naturally, it's NC!) Adelaide LOVED her sorority too and the friendships she made. I'm sure she would share your sentiments regarding sorority life. It gets a bad rap from other people, but she made some awesome friends, as well, and really grew as a young woman while in that sorority! You still need to pursue your writing. You have such a way with words. Glad you had a nice weekend. Love & blessings from NC!

  2. A lovely story/tribute to the lasting friendships of women. We are so fortunate to have these women in our lives. By chance, I will be going to Asheville, NC in May for a reunion of gals who have been there for me in my life. BTW, what sorority were you in? I was a Chi Omega, but don't hold that against me. This is one you can share with your daughters in the years to come. Always treasure your gal friends. There will be there for you during thick and thin!

  3. You make me wish I would have pledged a sorority :) I love that you are still in touch with these women and see them. If it wasn't for Facebook I would have long ago lost contact with the girls I knew in college. You are a wonderful writer, Joyce!

  4. To say you see the "18 year old girl you knew" is the sweetest compliment to your friend! And I know you really do. What a lovely reunion you had!
    PS My southern accent comes out on occasion too... Being from Virginia does that to one!

  5. Love it that your friendships remain after all these's what sisterhood is about. Sounds like a wonderful time.

  6. Those old friendships are the best. Sounds like a wonderful reunion. I am meeting with some old friends that I grew up with next weekend. One of which I haven't seen since our wedding almost 10
    years ago!

  7. I love that you are still friends. I wonder, after you got back was the accent a bit stronger? I pick up accents fast as well. So glad you had such a great time.

  8. Looks like a great weekend you had! Great that you all still keep in touch and get together once in awhile. Nothing like old friends to sit around with and chat.

  9. As I will be going to my High School Reunion in a week and a half, I am feeling very nostalgic. To have known these people as we grew from childhood, to temperamental teens. Yes, with all that angst! I can hardly wait to see everyone!!!

  10. How refreshing! I can see the joy on your faces. Getting together with girls who have a long history with you? There's just nothing like it in the world. (And yes, you're so right--we are always 'girls' no matter how old we get). It feels like life as God intended it when one can say, "We laughed ourselves silly over pranks and antics and a few instances of questionable judgement and we cried over hard things that have happened to people we love in the intervening years." I am really happy for you and glad that you and your 'sisters' make the effort to get away and get together for the sake of your souls.

  11. What a great weekend for you. Miss Katherine is experiencing the joys of sisterhood with her sorority and I'm so glad she joined one.

  12. Joyce, your pictures are beautiful and I marvel again at your gift of words. You capture so exactly what needs to be said, and you always express it beautifully. Feel free to get "sloppy" any time. : )

  13. What a nice post, with a "nostalgic" feel! I'm glad you had a fun weekend, rekindling old memories with old friends.

    The other commenters are right, you do have a way with words :)

  14. You've been blessed with a safety net that would be treasured by anyone. How lucky you are!!

  15. This wasn't sloppy at all! Very well written! Let me guess . . . did that hubs of yours give you drama when you were a college lass? :)
    That hubs . . .

  16. You went to UT?! We bleed orange around here--in case I haven't already told you. And NC holds a dear place in my heart. We lived there about 15 years. It still feels like home.

  17. I love that description... "weightless"... That is what my girlies are... I mean they have all the angst, but none of the seriousness. I never was in a sorority so I don't have that intimate link to my younger me... You are fortunate to have this!

  18. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

    I enjoyed reading this so much. I am a Jersey girl, despite living in Connecticut for 5 years when we were first married, I have been in Jersey all my life. I love how you say you felt weightless, not weighed down by the world and the awesome that you still have their friends and were able to spend time with them!!