It has somehow been an entire year since our last college day trip down memory lane to Bradley University. One of my very favorite days of the entire year.
**If you haven’t read last year’s post, definitely read that one before reading this one. You can find it HERE.**
And yet here we are. 1 year later. And just like every year the 4 of us are given the gift of our 1 magical day where we can go straight back to where it all began. Back to the place where we found each other for the very first time…and haven’t let go of each other since.
Beautiful Bradley University.
Life gets busy but this one day is so important to us and to our friendship that we plan it months ahead of time. We even put 2 different dates on the calendar including a rain date in case of weather. We group text daily with memes and gifs which reflect how excited we are. Nothing will keep us from our yearly tradition.
And just like every year, I’m in charge of breakfast. This year’s selection includes Greek yogurt, bananas, blueberries, peanut butter, and homemade apple muffins.
The 4 of us have been known as “The Goats” since the very beginning so this sticker is the absolute perfect way to decorate the top of each breakfast.
The car ride up is filled with retelling stories that we have been retelling for over 20 years. And yet somehow it doesn’t matter how many times we have told them, they get even more hilarious with time. Laughing. SO. MUCH. LAUGHING.
About 2 1/2 hours later…and we see it. The exact spot where the bend in the highway suddenly opens up to the skyline which may as well be a banner saying “Welcome Home”.
We drive straight to the campus and suddenly…
The sights, the sounds, the smells, all the same. How can so much time have passed and yet it feels like just yesterday when we were wearing our sorority letters and Eddie Bauer backpacks while walking across campus? Wasn’t it just yesterday when I had a meeting with my astronomy teacher and told him that I didn’t understand cosmetology and he told me that word means makeup and the correct word was actually cosmology? Wasn’t it just yesterday when we were having class outside on a beautiful day and in the middle of a serious class discussion, I put my hand down on the grass and it landed straight into a pile of dog doodie? Wasn’t it just yesterday when the creative writing teacher said that the 4 of us should have our very own comedy sitcom because our friendship was so hilarious? How did all of this happen over 20 years ago?!?
The night before I turned 21, my best friends decorated literally every single sidewalk on campus with the words “Today is Jenny Zwass’s 21st birthday! When you see her wish her a happy birthday!” and “Happy 21st Birthday Jenny Zwass! Your best friends love you!” When the sun rose the next morning, it shined on a campus dedicated to ME. For the entire day I had literally EVERYONE on campus wishing me a happy birthday! Faculty, students, everyone. Everywhere I went for that entire day, everyone knew it was my happy day. It was so amazing. I felt so special. Love my girls.
All of these years later there are absolutely zero signs of my beautiful birthday dedications from my special girls. And yet when I look at these sidewalks today, it’s all I see.
We head to the bookstore where we are surrounded by Bradley love.
These shelves used to be FILLED with textbooks! It’s still so crazy to me that everything is now online.
Avantis for lunch, One World for coffee. Avantis gondolas are what dreams are made of. And dream about them we have…for an entire year since we were here last.
Sigma Delta Tau. What if the 4 of us had joined 4 different sororities? The night we had to “pref” during the sorority rush process and write down our 1st choice sorority I actually wrote down a different sorority’s name! After I left and walked back to my dorm room, I was filled with the most unsettling feeling and walked all the way back across campus just to switch my first choice to Sigma Delta Tau. Somewhere deep in my heart I knew just where I belonged.
What if 23 years ago I DIDN’T walk back and change that form??? What if I had kept it the same and had joined a different sorority? What if I had never met my 3 soulmates?
But I DID. I changed it. I proudly resubmitted my first choice with the words “Sigma Delta Tau” and the next day was accepted into what would ultimately determine the course for the rest of my life.
Walking in the front door today is walking directly back into the late night mini pizzas, the 90210 viewing parties, the chapter meetings, the secret sorority rituals, the corner kitchen table with assigned seats where the 4 of us ate every single meal together, the laughing…the LAUGHING….
….and we’re home.
We leave SDT and walk through the alley to our off campus house where we lived senior year. We take our yearly picture on the front porch. Oh the memories we once made just behind that door!
Our rent in that massive old house was only $190.00 a month each. I had never written a check that big (!) and wrote my very first month’s rent check for $1.90. Once he received my check, our landlord came straight over to the house and gave me a lesson on decimal points 🙂
And to think that I almost burned down that house when I so long ago burned a pizza in the toaster oven causing flames…
We walk through the campus, relive our favorite memories, and laugh until it hurts. And when it’s time to drive back, somehow our friendship feels even deeper than when we had arrived that morning. How is that even possible after all of these years???
Our ride home is spent reflecting on the day, reflecting on the past 23 years, and laughing until it’s hard to breathe.
As I’m unloading all of my stuff from the car, the front door to my house flies open and my 2 footie pajama clad children run out onto our front porch literally jumping up and down yelling, “Mommy’s home! Mommy’s home!” and just like that…I’m back. As I fall asleep after this long day, I fall asleep with a smile on my face. My 20 something college self would be so very happy and proud with how her future life has turned out.
This year’s souvenirs:
A t shirt for my son, a glittery waterbottle for my daughter, 2 sweatshirts for me, 2 18 inch Avantis Gondolas, 1 container of Avantis ranch dressing, and 2 sorority notepads and 1 sorority shirt for my daughter (aka a TRIPLE sdt legacy…my mom and my great grandma were also in sdt)!
To My Goats: To think that when I first stepped foot on this campus over 20 years ago I did it without the 3 of you absolutely baffles me.
One of the greatest wishes that I have for my daughter is that she will one day experience a friendship like this. The kind of friendship where the word “friends” almost feels like an insult because they are not “friends”, they are family.
Love you, goats. Forever.
Thank you Bradley University for being our home base. Thank you for allowing us to come back each year and to relive the very best and very earliest memories of our lifelong friendship.
What we learned inside of the classroom was valuable but it’s what we learned outside of the classroom that was life changing.
And most importantly…thank you for bringing us to each other.
See you next fall.
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