4 Best Friends, 1 Alma Mater

The 4 of us met at the very beginning of Freshman year of college.  We lived in the same dormitory and joined the same sorority.

And the rest as they say…was history.

The 4 of us immediately clicked in such a way that we became instantly inseparable. We ate all of our meals together. We took our classes together. We lived together. We quickly learned everything there was to know about each other. We had lazy days, crazy nights, and everything in between…always together.

One day there was a dramatic tornado warning and the campus had everyone take immediate shelter. The 3 of them were scared and huddled together in the basement of our dormitory but I was still outside walking back across the entire campus from a class. Unbeknownst to me, the 3 of them were spending their time huddled together and frantically discussing and worrying about my safety. When I finally opened the basement door, I was almost knocked down by the amount of hugs I received. They were so concerned about me. That day solidified what I already knew…the 4 of us were destined to watch out for each other. Forever.

We ate Avanti’s Gondolas, Papa John’s pizza, and The Great Wall’s Chinese food. We went grocery shopping at Thompson’s Food Basket together, we studied together, we took classes together. We attended sorority meetings together. We helped each other, loved each other, and were there for each other throughout the everyday details of the life the 4 of us had created. Always together.

But the laughing. The LAUGHING. This continues to be the ultimate backbone of our entire friendship. We have shared some of the most beautiful, most special, most amazing laughter between us. We have jokes and stories that only we understand. There is always, always, always something to smile about and ALWAYS something to laugh about.

When I turned 21, they put our 4 baby pictures together in a picture frame and gave it to me because we didn’t have any photos of us as kids together. How was it possible that we hadn’t even met until we got to college? How had we managed to live our entire childhood and teenage years without knowing each other?

Over the span of 22 years, other friendships have come and gone. Boyfriends have come and gone. Even our beautiful college experience came and went. But through it all, our friendship remained and now as adults the 4 of us continue to grow closer and closer. We group text every single day. There is nothing we don’t know about each other and no secret that we don’t share.

Bradley University is so much more than our alma mater, it’s where we experienced something that only the 4 of us could possibly understand. During a time when we were so young and learning how to survive on our own, we never once were actually alone. Always together.

For one 12 hour day each fall, my 3 best friends and I magically go back to the time when our days were filled with nothing but each other. Before husbands and children.  Before jobs. Before home ownership. Before being adults.

For one 12 hour day each fall, we drive for almost 3 hours and eat the portable breakfasts that I individually pack for everyone. Granola, oats, yogurt, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, peanut butter. We talk, we laugh, we reminisce, we retell stories that we’ve been retelling for 22 years. We bask in the joy of just being together.

And after our 3 hour car ride, when we step out of the car, for one 12 hour day each fall…

we’re back.

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Immersed straight back into our most special place where our 4 year experience feels both like a lifetime ago and yesterday all at once.

For 1 magical day each fall, we get to relive all of our special memories and yet at the same time still somehow find the room to create new ones.

For 1 magical day each fall, we get to forget about our adult responsibilities and just focus on being together in our most special place.

For 1 magical day each fall, we get to go back to where it all began for us and to revisit the roots of our friendship.

We visit the bookstore which at one time was filled with physical textbooks but now reflects the digital world in which we live:

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We walk through our beautiful campus, remembering our classes and all they had taught us.

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Of course we visit the library! Memories of checking our email on the computers, referencing encyclopedias, and studying with our sorority sisters instantly come flooding back:

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This library cafe was not around when we were there but how cute is the name?!

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Always my favorite part of the library: the basement. Quiet area filled with stacks upon stacks of books.

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And this. My absolute most favorite spot to study on the entire campus. The basement corner desk on the very back right side allllll the way at the very end. I sat at this very desk for HOURS when I needed to study somewhere quiet. My special silent study oasis.  It’s still there!  I hope there is currently a student who always goes straight to this desk when serious studying needs to occur.  The best.

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And when I asked my friends to take my picture in front of the library sign so I could blog it, my sweet best friends asked if they could also be in the photo and hence be on the blog. It truly touched my heart. Everything I do, these girls are right there to support me. Always have been, always will be. Why take a picture alone when you can be surrounded by so much support and love?

My beautiful, most supportive best friends and I:

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I have leaned on the shoulders of these 3 girls more times than I can count, I have cried with them, laughed with them, celebrated with them, and mourned with them. They were in the gorgeous tent with me when I got married and they were at the hospital with me after I gave birth. Somewhere along the 22 year journey that our friendship has taken, they have become my family.

When I started this blog, my very first readers were my husband, my parents…and of course my 3 best friends.

We went to our sorority house and were greeted by the most lovely current sisters.  They welcomed us back into our home with open arms!  They eagerly sat around while listening to our stories, asking us questions, and finding relics from our time when we lived there.  It was amazing and we left with happy hearts.

We visited our freshman year dormitory (University Hall) and were allowed into our individual rooms!  My room looks exactly the same, just new desks.  The girls who currently live in it have it set up exactly as we did.  Love.

And just like that…it was time to drive back home.

When I walked in the door to my house, I was greeted by my son yelling, “MOMMY!” and he ran to hug me.  My husband gave me a kiss.  My daughter had fallen asleep on my side of the bed and as I kissed the top of her head, I thought about how fortunate I am.  I loved my college life so much…and I love my current adult life so much as well.  If that’s not the true definition of happiness, I’m not sure what is.

This year’s souvenirs from our 1 special day.  Bradley sweatshirt for me, Bradley hair bow for my daughter, Bradley shirt for my son, and 2 separate 16 inch Avantis Gondolas to share (maybe?) with my family.  Plus, stickers for my kids with my sorority letters on them.

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To My 3 Best Friends: I love you and I love our special bond so much. I honestly don’t know what I would do or who I would be without the 3 of you always right next to me.

You can make fun of me for using this expression all you want but this is my blog and I’ll just say it: We are truly #blessed.

To Beautiful Bradley University: Thank you for giving us 4 amazingly memorable years, for teaching us so much both in and out of the classroom, for bringing the 4 of us together, and for providing us with a place that 22 years later we can still visit and call our home.

Already counting down to our special day next fall.  I’ll pack the breakfasts.

Xo,

Jenny

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24 thoughts on “4 Best Friends, 1 Alma Mater

  1. Absolutely beautiful!!!!! I was smiling the entire time I read this and even had a few tears!! We are so lucky to have found Bradley University and each other!!!!❤️ Thank you for documenting our special day and very special friendship!!! 😘

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  2. What a beautiful tribute to your alma mater and your sisters! Not too much better than the love of friends that truly are family!!
    💗💗💗

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  3. This was so beautifully written! It brought me to tears! The sentiment-“Friends through thick & thin!” was sure felt in this loving tribute to 4 amazing young women!!!❤️

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  4. Beautifully written. I have 2 daughters at Bradley. The love it there! Great that you go back to the Hilltop every year. One of your friends looks like a teacher in our school district? Small world?

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      1. Yes, they really enjoy Bradley. Oldest is graduating early. Came in with 16 AP credits, so she’s graduating this December. Going off to Grad school next August. To study to be a School Psychologist. Youngest is a Freshman, and so far is loving her Bradley experiences too. She’s studying Nursing.

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  5. I am still crying…this was beyond beautiful. These three truly are family and dad and I love them too. What an amazing tribute to an everlasting friendship.

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  6. You have the germs of a perfect book here about unbreakable friendships here. You would have to change it so everything doesn’t go so smoothly and fictionalize it so it’s not really about your actual friends. You could deal with all kinds of issues and show how the friendships formed during those college years stood up to the test of time, tragedies, heartbreak, disappointment and the wear and tear of our modern age. The title would be “The Four of Us.” I can see it being a bestseller in contemporary women’s fiction. I’m being serious here. Think about it. Wouldn’t you like to read a book like that?

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  7. Love! The four of you have an amazing and unique friendship that sadly, not everyone achieves in life. I’m glad you have each other and I’m honored to know each of you! BTW, I think I only set foot in the library at Bradley about 4 times – and I’ve never been in the basement. I wasn’t very studious in college. Usually, you could find me napping on the couches at SDT!

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