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.

14 comments:

  1. Molly, what a beautiful articulation of this amazing shared experience we've all had. I'm grateful for tools like Facebook that allow us to stay connected and connect to new Macon sisters long after our days behind the Red Brick Wall, and to be part of a community so full of support and unconditional love for one another.

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  2. Molly, thank you for this. It beautifully encapsulates the feeling that I think we all share when we think back on our time at Macon. And yes, I'll always have your back, as I know you'll always have mine.

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  3. Hi Molly - I absolutely love this. You describe perfectly that special bond that all of us Macon women share (I recently got home from a Presidents' Day powwow with two of my college best friends and after three days we still did not have enough time to catch up!). Thanks also for mentioning my blog. In case any of your readers want the direct link, the post about Catherine Hubbard is here - http://homiller.blogspot.com/2012/12/small-things.html.

    Take care! Lucy

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  4. Hi Molly, Thank you so much for this reminder of how powerful our Macon community is. While I wish we had this online community when my roommate from college died, I am eternally grateful for its current existence and ability to pull us all together both in times of heartache, and in times of celebration.

    The best part of the Macon sister connection is that it doesn't matter when you were there - we've all got each others backs :)

    Thanks again!!
    Michele

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  5. Thank you for this wonderful summary of our school experience.
    Sheri Carroll, 1991

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  6. Christina Patterson HumphreysMarch 7, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    This was wonderful! You made me all teary.

    Christina Patterson Humphreys, 1991

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  7. Molly,
    You have a gift with words. You really captured the RMWC experience.

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  8. Wow!! Im so glad you put our feelings into words!! Written like a true woman educated at Rmwc!!

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  9. Many of the things you have written have gone through mind today! Thank you for writing them so eloquently! -Nadine

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  10. I am so glad that I was able to get this out to so many RMWC ladies to read. We all know how special RMWC is to our hearts. Although each of us had our own individual experiences, there are so many things that resonate true- our deep bonds that formed, our love for our school and the special years we had going to a woman's college. There is nothing like it and unfortunately, will never be. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

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  11. A wonderful post. I am often reminded of a quote from a speaker who came to Randolph Macon - she said that there was always something different about RMWC women that meant that even after leaving the "Red Brick Walls" they stood out in their communities and in their interactions with others. That is certainly true of the RMWC alums we have all come together to support recently. Over the years I have tried to qualify exactly what it was about the experience that made that true and I think that a lot of it comes down to the fact that we were taught to compete first and only with ourselves, to be the best that we could be, to be true to ourselves first and the rest would follow. This has served me well in my life and career and there are so many examples that I could point to where the character traits and values developed during those years had a huge impact on decisions I made. I am so thankful for the opportunity that RMWC gave me to go to college slightly later than normal it really was the path and decision that made all of the difference in my life.

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  12. What a great story we all share. RMWC will always be a part of all of us. (1994)

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  13. I am an alum from the class of 2012 (second co-ed class). I appreciate so much what you have articulated here. I try to explain to my boyfriend how important this place was (and is) to me. I would not be the woman I am without my life behind the Red Brick Wall - the Honor Code, traditions, academics, the beautiful campus. You have perfectly encapsulated the "whys" and "hows" so that I can share with him the tremendous impact R(MW)C still has on me. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  14. Thank you for writing this! I am curious where you got that picture (aerial view). I've been looking for one but all the ones I found were before the Houston chapel was built. (1995)

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