Last night I met up with a few girls (well, we’re women now I suppose) that I knew from college. I went to Cal State Fullerton (I graduated in 1993 if there’s any Titan Alumni out there!), and after my first year living on campus in the dormitories (Fullerton is a small commuter campus, there were only 3 sets of dorms back when I attended, so there isn’t much of a “college life” going on there), I decided to try and pledge a sorority. It seemed like the thing to do since I was no longer living on campus, yet I really wanted to meet some people and make the most out of college. I went through “Rush” (for my UK friends, this is a time where you go and meet all of the sororities on campus – social clubs, basically – and then through a ridiculous process of voting and choosing, you end up with an offer to join a sorority at the end of the rush period), and at the end of the process, I ended up with a Bid Card to join Zeta Tau Alpha – ZTA. To make a long story a bit shorter, when I went to the Bid Party that afternoon, I met 4 other girls that were going to be in my Pledge Class (actually, there were about 20 of us altogether – but there were 4 other girls at my table that day), and we became fast friends. Over the course of the 3 years that I was in the “house” (that’s what we call each of the sororities, “houses”), there was a lot of laughing, fun, debauchery and drama, but once I left – I didn’t keep in touch with anyone. Over the years since I ran into one of the girls a couple of times, but I didn’t know what had happened to any of the others. Then along came Facebook, and somehow – we all found one another. There were promises to meet and catch up, but nothing ever really transpired until last night. It was the first time in about 18 years that all of us had been together in the same room at the same time.
I was incredibly nervous. I’d gotten to the place we were meeting for dinner and drinks a bit early, and as I sat texting my partner-in-crime (Amanda), I could feel my blood pressure rising. My tenure as a Zeta ended before I graduated due to some family issues (basically I had to quit because my parents were losing their house and I needed to pull my own weight), and the sorority house was less-than-supportive. At the same time, the aforementioned drama between all of us had put quite a bit of distance between a few of us, and so there was a lot of unresolved emotion that I think we all carried with us. As excited as I was to see the girls, I was nervous because I just wasn’t sure what would take place.
I got out of my car and immediately saw one of them – it was the strangest feeling because it was as though I had been transported right back to those college years. The same feeling came over me as each of them walked into the restaurant, and throughout the night I felt like I couldn’t talk fast enough! We had so much ground to cover in such a short period of time. We’ve all walked very different paths since college – I was married first out of the 5 of us, and my children are both the oldest (my first two) AND the youngest (my little one). Two are still not married, one has moved out of state, one moved out of state and back again (that’d be me) one has converted to a completely different religion, and all 5 of us have aged beautifully, of course. 🙂 For all of the things that had changed though, so many things were still the same. The laughter, the inside jokes, the annoyances we had during college and sorority, and our love for one another, despite the differences. (or perhaps in spite of our differences) I don’t think I realized how much I missed these girls until I saw them, and how much I really do need them in my life. I don’t know why I completely walked away from them back at school, I suppose that at the time I needed to be on my own in order to appreciate their friendship when and if I ever had the chance again. Even today, it’s difficult not to be emotional about how I felt with them last night – they are very special people and I’m glad to have them back in my life. It won’t be 15 years, or even 1 year, before I see any or all of them again, that is certain.
The reason I tell this particular tale is the familiarity of the story. How many of us felt (or feel) that same weird sense of deja vu when we’ve gone to see Duran Duran? I know the first time I saw all 5 of them on stage in Costa Mesa in 2003 I just stood there unable to move for the first 10 minutes of the show because I felt like I had to be in some crazy dream or something. I looked like an adult, but boy did I ever feel like I was back in junior high again. Our “relationship” with the band is much different than the one we might have with close friends. I don’t believe it’s quite the same as the two-way street we have with friends we genuinely know and love – but the band was a very large part of our lives as we grew up. I know I didn’t realize how much I’d missed seeing the band until I saw them again in 2001 at the House of Blues in Anaheim even though at the time it was only Simon and Nick that were original members at the time. After that show, I grabbed on to fandom for dear life! At a similar point in my life, I even put the band on the back burner in my life just as I’d done with my sorority friends. At the time, I don’t even think I knowingly decided not to follow the band as closely as I once had – it just happened. Of course, when the time came and I saw them play onstage again, it felt as though no time had ever passed – just as it felt last night when I looked at each of my friends sitting around the table talking and laughing.
When I see the band again in December, I have no doubt that as they take the stage, it will feel as though no time has passed – yet I believe that by that time it will have been about a year and a half since I’ve seen them. Not exactly decades, but my point is that a certain part of me will feel that same sense of comfort, familiarity and recognition that I had last night with my friends, even though I won’t even be seeing the band in my own country. There is definitely something extremely special and priceless about being a Duran Duran fan into my 40s. I’ve learned to appreciate them in a way I couldn’t have done at 12 – even though they truly exasperate me at times. Not much different from friendship, really.