Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

I was tagged in a really sad post today on Facebook. 
Memories flooded my mind and a tinge of bittersweetness made its way through my body. 

I went to college in the fall of 1989. 
And met my forever friends there. 
On the campus of Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. 
I lived in an all girls dorm my freshman year. 
Do those even exist anymore?
Or does everyone just co-mingle from day one?

Sophomore year I was in a dorm that was all female on one side and all male on the other side. 
There was a lounge area connecting the two sides of that monstrous square building that allowed the males and females to engage with one another. 
So many memories were made there. 
Watching Thirtysomething once a week in someone's tiny room. 
I still can't believe Gary died. 
Working in the cafeteria on the main floor...which really meant I just hung out with my friends while they ate and occasionally filled the croutons on the salad bar. 
Meeting Bill, who now goes by Jake (huh?) and his drummer roommate Chip. 
Steve and his twin. 
And later finding out Steve had no twin, he just dressed in a bipolar manner. 
Making friends with the cleaning ladies Rhonda and Angie. 

But the summer before junior year, we made our way out of the confines of RAs and guests who had to be registered to visit your room, to the house. 
Our house. 
Which really belonged to the single, elderly lady who lived next door with her cats. 
But, it became ours. 
All 11 of us. 
I think there were 11 original residents. 
The house was very big. 
And was known by its address alone.
916 Hovey. 
And the gals who lived there became The Hovey Girls. 

The first year was hectic in the house. 
Not only were there 11 women living there, but also their boyfriends at times and various random friends. 
I don't recall too many problems. 
Which is rare with that many females residing under one roof. 

The summer before senior year, our numbers dwindled down. 
At the start of (most) everyone's last year in college, 916 Hovey housed 8 girls. 
I think. 
My memory is in its forties now. 
There were a lot of rooms.
How I got my own bedroom every year is mind boggling in itself. 
Boyfriends, a fiancé, male and female friends from other local universities, a few cats, friends from across campus all made their way to our home. 
The home of The Short Hair Club. 
Because...we all had short hair. 
We are simple like that. 

It was our own homegrown sorority. 
But without the monetary dues and obligations.
Unless you count the booze that was bought and consumed and the security detail that had to be instituted when the strange Asian guy from across the street wandered over. 
To stare in our windows and take water from our spigot that was located right under our enormous dining room picture window. 
And we were sent scrambling on our hands and knees to lock the doors while we were laughing so hard I'm sure most of us peed in our pants. 
He was really odd. 

Furniture was broken when someone tried to recreate "the lift" from Dirty Dancing. 
Boyfriends became exes and tears were dried on each other's shoulders.
One summer we wrote, directed, and acted in our own original play "Whiskey, Give Me Whiskey."
Which someone, somewhere has on VHS tape I'm sure. 

A friend that I met in college now lives across the street from 916 Hovey. 
With his wife and two boys.
He was a frequent guest of the Hovey House. 
And today Mark posted a photo online today of three mini bulldozers at the ready next to our house. 
Ready to tear into our cache of memories to make way for a new apartment building. 

Maybe that's what the kids want these days. 
Their own space. 
With limited amounts of people in that space. 
Why do you need someone literally sitting on top of you while you're watching tv when you can just text them and FaceTime with them from your own private space instead?
I relish in the memories of my 916 Hovey friends who sat on me, laughed with me, cried with me, stood next to me when Siobhan's boyfriend kicked down the bathroom door. 
All memories that sit strong with me today. 
Friends who have made an impression on me as an adult. 
Friends I met when I was still a kid. 

Last month three of us 916 Hovey ladies met up at Mark's house for a July 3rd cookout.
Rose traveled all the way from Ireland where she now lives to see the old girl again. 
And as we walked across the street to peek inside again, we didn't then realize it would be the last time. 
Rose, Tina, Jen (moi), and Mark. 
I'm glad we posed for one last picture with our friend. 
She had become old. 
Just like us, but even more so. 

Old friends take many forms. 
Walls of love, hope, and strong bonds formed around us as we lived in 916 Hovey. 
Enabling us to become who we are today. 
Everything in our past shapes our future. 
And if those walls could talk...I bet they would be snort laughing. 
And proud of us all...

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