When the phone rang late on a Sunday morning, my husband and I executed the drill perfectly. He picked up the phone, checked the caller ID, and then read the number to me, all of which took just enough time for the call to go to voicemail. We’ve recently discovered that phone solicitors now have real-people phone numbers, and we’re not currently in the market for windows or a timeshare.
After a few minutes, I completed the next step of the phone call ritual. Picking up the receiver, I heard the stutter dial tone which told me that whoever had called just a few minutes before had left a message. I punched in the number, fully expecting to hear a sales pitch for something. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the voice of one of my pledge sisters from the Epsilon class of 1997.
“Hello, I’m calling for Beth. This is Valerie, and I’m calling to find out if you live here, and I think you must.” My fingers couldn’t dial her number fast enough, and I was so excited, it took three attempts for me to finally call her back.
When she answered the phone, she sounded just like the Valerie I met in September of 1997 when fate and good fortune placed us in the same sorority at Illinois Wesleyan. Sweet, soft-spoken and always a lady, she was the polar opposite of my loud and often irreverent self. But we became fast friends, then roommates. She was in my wedding, and I attended the guest book at hers. We had our first babies within a year of each other, and I recently came across a photo of us with our toddler sons taken when she came back to visit her parents in Illinois.
She wanted to let me know that she was planning another visit to check on her aging parents and wondered if we could get together while she would be here. After a few minutes of catching up, we planned to meet for lunch in about ten days.
On the appointed day and hour, we met at the restaurant. It’s such a cliché, but we picked up right where we left off when we saw each other almost 20 years ago. There were no awkward silences (one of my greatest fears), no one-upmanship and no holding back on tough topics. There were lots of giggles and shared memories and friendship that can only be enjoyed by those who have spent four of the happiest years of their lives bonded by a common cause.
The lunch was great, the company was better, but the aftereffects of this reunion are still resonating with me. When one volunteers for a cause, it’s easy to forget why we really do this. Sometimes the weekends away from family, the hours spent on e-mail and the unrelenting phone calls just seem like too much. But time spent with friends with whom you’ve shared so much reminds us that as much as we given, we’ve received countless benefits of our sisterhood many, many times over.
THIS is why I choose to give my time and energy to our Fraternity. From the sixteen women with whom I pledged in 1997 to the 50 women in Epsilon chapter when I was initiated to the hundreds of women that have inspired me as I’ve volunteered for Kappa over that past ten years, I will always be indebted. You taught me about true friendship, which has extended into so many other areas of my life. And it thrills me to watch as my daughter forms the same kind of life-long relationships with her Kappa sisters and makes me smile to think that in 30 years, she’ll be meeting a Mu pledge sister for lunch.
So thank you, Valerie, for calling me. I loved seeing you. Let’s not wait more than 20 years to do it again.