Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Girls From Poyda B

I'm old enough to remember when co-ed dorms were considered controversial. There was only one at Rider College when I attended.

Poyda was on the far end of campus on the other side of the Lake and past the Fraternity houses. As far away from the mainstream of college life as they could put us. Poyda B sat in the middle of Poyda A and Poyda C, both of which were all boys. I don't know whose decision it was or the reasoning behind it that if the school must keep up with the times they had to allow the men and women to live in the same dorms. But in retrospect the choice for the women infiltrating the men , allowing them two floors of four surrounded by eight more of men only and isolating them away on the far reach of campus, seems like a recipe for disaster.

It wasn't. I was one of the women in Poyda B. So I know. What it did serve to do was create a bond between the women. We were not Sorority girls. We thought we were too cool for a Sorority. But in truth we were as close and as inseparable as any Sorority could be. We were in the co-ed dorm which made us feel like trailblazers. We were women who were going to go out and make a difference.

Then life happens and you lose track of each other. You stay in touch with a friend here and there and you wonder what happened to everyone else. But now we have Facebook. You can find out. You can meet again. Which is how we get to the reunion of six that occurred recently on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

I was in charge of logistics. Which kept my mind off the inevitable question. Would we all get along? Would the conversation be as easy it always had been? Would I revert to my college age self and suddenly become the shy version of me, the insecure education major?

Turns out it was easy. But that happens with friends you have from before you officially became an adult. They know a side of you that no one else will ever see. The one unblemished by the choices you made along the way, the good ones and the not so good ones. The one that didn't really believe you would ever hit a bump in the road that life would force you to navigate. You became friends not because you choose the same careers, or go to the same yoga class, or you met at your kid's soccer game. You became friends because you could. They are part of that group of people in your life who knew you before you really knew you.

Plus we might have been out of practice but we were used to just being with each other. When hanging out together did not mean going to some event but it really meant hanging out. Doing nothing. Sitting in someone's dorm room, sunning by the lake or lounging long after a meal was over in the cafeteria.

Hanging out then was different. There were no cell phones or PDAs to distract. We didn't have our own personal computers, we had typewriters. Someone how we women managed to get along and communicate with the outside world with one pay telephone at the end of the hall that everyone took turns answering. If you had a message, someone wrote it on the white board that hung on everyone's front door. There was no technology to aide our connection. We were left to our own internal devices.

I had a moment as we sat at the large round table in the corner of Ed's Chowder House. A lot had changed but it was all the same. Rider is no longer a college but a University. We were older but I could see our younger selves. We had our Blackberries and IPhone within easy reach but we all could remember the relative ease of our lives without them. We were lingering after a nice meal in a pretty Lincoln Center restaurant but I could see us all sitting at one of those long tables in the cafeteria digesting barely edible food. Talking and laughing. We were older versions of ourselves but we were still us. The Girls From Poyda B.

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