I opened the weighty glass door to my dormitory hall, delighted to be back at college after a weekend away. A flood of Biblical proportions gushed before me. A campus water fight gone wrong. A torrent of water turned the second floor stairway into rapids and a waterfall of significant proportion ran from the two landings. I was angry for two reasons, first that destruction of property had occurred and second that the prank was not my idea.
Five of the most cherished women in my life stared sheepishly with giant mops, ridiculously inept, in the torrent that raged through the hall. As moisture seeped into the ancient walls, electricity crackled along the river. I took up a mop too; we were in this together.
The families of these 6 women had sacrificed to attend this tiny private college. This would not be the first time we stood together ankle deep in trouble. Usually life would find us awash in tears and more tears. Serendipity had brought us from far flung states and nearby cities. Fate would bind us like knitting but it would not be without pain.
We weren’t at this college to party, to find husbands, or to engage in extra curricular activities. We did not get sports or music scholarships. We came to learn to be gifted teachers and take our knowledge and change the bit of world we could. Despite our wild horse spirits, we intended to focus and we were frightened. Four years seemed an eternity, like a prison sentence for which we had to pay dearly.
Our names nearly rhymed and we said them all together like a credo. Cherylfaye and Cheryl Ann, Meg and Peg, Kay and Jan. Midwestern women with no connection bound tightly together by time, tragedy, faith and circumstance.
These were the olden days, the mid 1970s. The following grocery list of the new millennium did not exist: cell phones, private phones, tvs, compact refrigerators, microwaves, cds, mp3s, iPods, computers, ipads, Starbucks, phone cards, debit cards, ATMs. One computer existed on campus and engulfed the entire physics lab.
A single 1950s style black phone was cemented into each long hall, it rang like a fire bell, and the person it was for was never there. Since the cord was 4 inches long, no privacy in any sector of this dorm life. The following steps were systematically utilized when we wanted to talk to each other privately, we stood up on our feet, the items just below our shins, we would move them in the direction we suspected our friends to be, we then walked until we located said rhyming partner.