Thursday, March 7, 2013

Macon Love

I graduated from a small, private college in Lynchburg, Virginia. At that time, there were about 750 women enrolled there. Yes, I said women. It was a women's college -- Randolph-Macon Woman's College. Some people think that it is crazy that I attended a single sex college. It was smaller than my high school, but when I went to visit it on the circuit of college visits, I knew that it was the place for me. Simply, it felt like home.

This past weekend, three of my four best friends from college visited from all over the country. We sat up every night talking. The kitchen table became our base. We had so much to say, that we found ourselves almost talking on top of each other, just to try to fit everything in. We laughed about old times. We cried when we talked about hard times and recent tragedies. We literally couldn't get enough of each other. One friend’s husband describes it best. He says that there is a bubble that forms when we get together. We are in our own world, our circle of trust. No one else understands our childish jokes. No one else gets the stories we tell. No one else gets the bond that was formed years ago, behind the red brick wall.

When we attended R-MWC, it was a requirement to live all four years in the campus dorms. You became fast friends with people, and then lived with them for the next four years. This close-knit community became part of your being, your soul. No one locked their doors. The hall was a place to hang out. You went to meals in the dining hall together and sat at the same tables, covered with pretty linens and glass tops. You could have walked into Main Hall, completely blindfolded, and taken a deep breath. In a nanosecond, you could locate yourself, just from the smell.

Going to a women's college is different than a coed school. Rules are different. When a guy enters the building to visit, you have to yell, “Man on the hall!” You can wear your pajamas to class, because really, there is no one to impress but the people who have seen you in those pajamas umpteen times before. You feel confident to speak out and speak up. You meet all types of women, not only from all over the United States, but from all over the world. There is a real, pure feeling of empowerment, that you can do anything you want. There were so many things to become involved in and learn from.

They were the best of times, and I have been very proud of my school. Recently, however, Randolph-Macon Woman's College began admitting men and changed its name to Randolph College. I won't get into all the stories and politics, but I will say that this change has been difficult to swallow. I have some anger about how it all happened. Last summer, when my nine year old son wanted to visit, I took him. I really tried to put on a positive face. While there, seeing the different name on the infamous brick wall or the pictures of men on brochures, I felt the anger brewing and boiling up from deep within me. It was like someone took something precious that you loved and tried to recreate it, but didn't get it remotely right. 

But whatever changed on campus didn't change within the ladies of Macon and our bonds with each other. Like our college song says,  “Sing of loyalty and love,” and that is exactly my experience. When you go to Macon, you create deep, unbreakable bonds. The ladies that I lived with, studied with, worked with, partied with, we all connected -- the ladies on 3rd Webb, my crew at the Skeller, the basketball team, my Prime Time students with whom I did my Psychology project, the ladies I was in secret societies with, and my four best friends in “HWEET.” Though we all had separate relationships with our fellow classmates, but there was something bigger. Like a Momma that is holding the umbrella over her babies so that they know that they are loved and protected, that is the Macon Love.

Unfortunately, tragedy has struck our school and our friends twice this year. Not surprisingly, the women from R-MWC came together immediately to help. And I am not talking about the “here is a casserole, I am praying for you” kind of help. We--the women of R-MWC--have been and continue to work together to create legacies for the families and children left behind. We continue to ensure the families know that we are there for them, that their families get what they need, and that their babies know the amazing woman that their Mom was.

We all get caught up in our busy lives. Phone calls get pushed off, birthdays get forgotten, reunions are missed. I treasure the time that I got to spend this past weekend with my friends from R-MWC. I know that they have my back. But, I also know that everyone else at R-MWC does, too. I am sure that the people that know me, and even those that didn't, would rally to help if I needed it. And if, God forbid, something were to happen to me, the R-MWC women would have my husband's and my children's backs, too.

Randolph-Macon Woman's College opened at a time when people believed educating women was a dangerous thing. From the start, R-MWC stood out by offering women a top notch education in a four-year program. I am very proud to say that I was a part of that era. I am even more proud to say that the ladies that I know from Macon are just as top notch. Although I feel that the school we experienced is part of the past, what hasn’t changed is the love and dedication we have for our ladies of Macon. 

If you haven't watch the video that Melissa Bellitto put together click here, and watch it. Warning...if you are an alum, you will probably tear up. Top pic from a blog of another R-MWC alum.