I stepped foot on the Baylor campus with wide eyes and big dreams. I was the fourth generation to dawn the Green and Gold in my family and it was exciting to be a part of the legacy while forging my own path. Going pot luck for a roommate and immediately trying to distance myself from the patterns of high school, I wanted so badly to have the full college experience.
Having never been to a party with alcohol and never sneaking out or missing curfew, I was curious. Baylor is a Baptist university. When I arrived on campus in 1993, I lived in an all girls dorm that allowed co-ed visitation on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6 pm. Until my junior year, there was no dancing on campus. By the world’s standards, we were far from a “normal” college experience. Having never tasted the life of a rebel, I found spontaneous trips to Dallas, late night pizza runs and dorm prank wars to be so entertaining. We had neighbors on our dorm hall that seemed to find another side of life on our very conservative campus. I can remember the first time I had to assist with post-party clean up. As one person purged their stomach in the sink, we were called to help a non-authorized visitor escape from our dorm. This was scandalous. And, I was so intrigued.
It was my intention to enter sorority rush after the Christmas break. Unfortunately my excitement to stay up late and learn about this great new thing called e-mail consumed more of my first semester than studying. I found myself on academic probation and unqualified for rush. I went back to campus with the firm desire to make grades. I spent most of the second semester watching my friends pledge sororities. With all of the parties and t-shirts and fun being had, I was more determined than ever to rush in the fall.
The best part of my freshman year was the foundation of independence that I forged. For the first time in my life, I was on my own. I had to make my own friends. I had no siblings or church group to fall back on. I chose to be a part of a Sunday night dinner group with a few others that had similar faith journeys. Each week, we would go to dinner at the home of a local woman who mothered and loved and encouraged us. What began in that living room is one of the truest friendships I know in life.
While we did not spend every waking moment together in our first year, we found our common lane. I can remember meeting her in my first days of college life and thinking to myself that she was beautiful and fun and full of life. I was immediately intimidated and sure that we would have nothing in common. She had long blond hair and I saw that hanging with her meant laughter and faith and stories and plenty of interested boys and Jesus. Yes, all of those things can go together, and in totality, it was the base of a sisterhood that would walk with me through the best and worst days ahead.We both came from families that loved Jesus and valued each other.
In our first conversations, I can remember thinking that she had something that I needed more of in my life. As our friendship grew, I knew what it was. She was real. She was the kind of friend that didn’t sugarcoat the chaos and at the same time, she refused to let my negative Nelly attitude devour a good time. She was going to stretch me to meet people and engage and walk down new paths, all with the grounding of a solid foundation. So in the fullness of celebration and joy, we jumped headlong into one of the best seasons of my life, together.
On a side, yet very vital note, this same friend is on the “do not pass go, do not have a crisis, do not have a celebration without calling her” list 24 years later. If you are lucky enough to have a friend that has seen you though college and dating and engagement and marriage and children and is now navigating ministry and raising teenagers with you, blessed does not even begin to cut it. When life falls apart or requires a costume, I know who to call.