Melanie and I were randomly paired together as roommates our freshman year, and I first met her in the Memorial Union bookstore during Orientation. She recognized me (we’d exchanged photos) from across the store, yelled my name, and came running over to introduce herself. Melanie was friendly and outgoing and confident (all things I wasn’t during my college bout of homesickness). We became friends over the course of the year, and have been close – roommates again our sophomore and junior years, bridesmaids in each other’s weddings – ever since. And while I am of course grateful for her friendship, I am even more grateful for the support and encouragement she gave me during the most difficult transition of my life. If Melanie had not taken my hand (figuratively and literally) and led me through my first few months of college, I would not have stayed at the University of Iowa. She helped me take control of my life, and is indirectly responsible for the love in my life today.
Jamie lived on the same dorm floor as Melanie and me. She too was friendly and outgoing and confident, and an outsider might have observed that she was a little too cool for me. (She’s still a little too cool for me. ☺) We became friends throughout our freshman year, lived together our sophomore (with Melanie) and super senior years, and were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. It was during our stint as roommates that we discovered a tremendous overlap in our interests; our shared love of Friday night dance parties, Saturday morning tailgates, workouts at the gym, and late-night walks around campus brought us even closer together. Jamie was – and still is – a gracious and understated blend of intelligence and beauty. She is comfortable in her own skin and confident in who she is, and she taught me to be the same.
Melanie, me, and Jamie
Like Melanie and Jamie, Leslie and I met my freshman year of college, became friends as the years went by, lived together for a few months during my senior year, and were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. The summer after my senior year, Leslie and I spent eight weeks working at Point O’Pines Camp for Girls in upstate New York. Whereas in a normal environment you might have one friend you call for laughs, one you call for tears, one you call for advice, and one you call for help, in the secluded environment that was summer camp in the Adirondack Mountains, we became all of these friends – rolled into one – for each other. I shared more with her in those eight weeks than I’ve ever shared with anyone in a similar period of time, and I believe she did the same with me. She saw me at my very best, worst, and most ridiculous, and loved me something fierce when I needed it most. At one point during the summer we realized that while we each had and would always have many friends – even best friends – other than one another, she and I would always be kindred spirits.
Bernadette and Bequitha
(I know we gave each other those nicknames during our summer
at camp, but to save my life I can't remember how they came about)
I am lucky to have had these women in my life. Just wanted you to know.
(A note to Sara, my sister, and Jenna, my sister-in-law, both of whom were also bridesmaids in my wedding: I promise you'll have a post of your own someday. I didn't write paragraphs about you here because I didn't see you on my trip to Iowa City. Love you both!)