It took more than a year in Missouri for us to find Meagan. I was with my Sarah, riding bikes around campus on a cool summer evening when we saw a familiar couple who looked as though they could have been having a private disagreement. Appropriately, we approached.
Sarah previously knew Meagan and had been trying to hang out with her for some time. I met her that night and fell in love instantly as we dougie’d on the sidewalk and cartoonishly leapt over trash cans. I knew then I’d found a kindred spirit. She was bright inside, bursting with grand dreams and conversations yet to have and people yet to be home to.
Our romance was quick and lasting. The three of us danced around bonfires and knitted and spent the night on futons and sledded when it snowed and salsa danced (also when it snowed) and cried at The Impossible and walked Meagan’s dog and listened to Frank Sinatra while we cooked steak and cried at nothing and everything and danced. And danced. And danced. She taught me so much over coffee, over bagels, over the phone, over the noise of growing up and learning if you’re enough.
I would go on to join her same dance team and spend hours in her car post-practice, talking into the night about the then life-altering issues I couldn’t name today. I would stay many weekends at her family home in St. Louis, making grape leaves with parents who treated me as their own. She’d buy me journals and I’d write her poetry. We’d fight and hurt each other and suss it out from opposite sides of a wooden booth at Kaldi’s. I’d move in with her a month before her wedding and we’d spend more delirious hours lamenting the difficulties of being a nurse and I, being directionless. Sarah and I would stand arm in arm as Meag married a man who had become a brother to both of us. I’d sob as if she were dead the morning they left for their honeymoon. I’d live with them for a week after they returned. I would eat six am diner food with her and Sarah on a bittersweet September morning. I would hug them tightly, and then I would drive away from the us that I knew.
In our upper-classmen years, Sarah and I often marveled at the situations and events we were brave enough to walk into as freshmen for the sake of making friends. We’d thank our stars that it was over, that we’d survived and that we’d never have to be that insecure and desperate for connection again in our lives. We were naive to think that college would offer our final freshman year, that life wouldn’t be a cycle of thrusting yourself into unknown situations and overcoming the new circumstances.
Meagan and Sarah became my family—to quote the very same John Green inspired film that Sarah and I squealed to one night after returning from our international mission trips—“slowly, and then all at once.” It was work in the beginning, and then it wasn’t, and I couldn’t pinpoint when it changed. There is no specific moment I knew I’d found my sisters, but a combination of moments that cemented their permanence in my world.
The three of us, along with the rest of our friends who became family, have made our way into our next freshman years in regards to jobs, cities and marriages. Certain aspects of this time around are consistent with the original. It’s still awkward and lonely and I have to tell everyone that, “actually, it’s pronounced like ‘Vinegar’ but with a p.” I still take advantage of free food and fall asleep later than I wanted to.
I’m able to approach today, however, with an optimism that only accompanies perspective. I could have never known in advance the people and situations I’d come into contact with in Missouri that would have such changing power on my life. I have no way of determining the same here in Chicago.
What an exciting, terrifying thing, to have absolutely no idea where this is all going to lead. How wonderful an opportunity to be able to find out.
(*Sidenote: I also get to live with one of my roommates from freshman year as we take on this whole transition into city life together, which is not only awesome but also further solidifies my support of the ‘random roommate’ process.)