Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sunrise Services

Thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected with some of my college friends, to the extent that we're actually going to take action and meet up with each other. This is truly impressive, considering that we have had this conversation, on and off, for almost seven years. This year, however, seems to be the one. We will go to Sunrise Services.

We aren't planning to meet up on Easter Sunday. No, the Sunrise Service of which I speak is NAU's homecoming weekend. The city of Flagstaff, to make money, and commemorate this solemn occasion, opens the downtown bars at 6:00 AM. We will be there. Yes, by God, we will be there.

And who is in this cast of characters? Topping the list will be my friend Sunshine. Sunshine is a life force all of her own. She's into punk rock, cigarettes, and constitutional law. Her stated goal, when entering a room, is: "I plan on finding the girl that looks like she would hate me the most. By the end of the evening, she'll be my best friend." And sure enough, it happens, all the time. The Tri-Delt with acrylic nails, flat-ironed hair, and bitch face securely in place, will by the end of the evening, be slurring, "Sunshine, you are the shiiiiitttt," while exchanging numbers so Sunshine can spend the weekend at her parents' ski cottage in Telluride.

Sunshine is now a lawyer with her own practice. She lives in Eastern Washington with her girlfriend and their dogs. She is the first "Sunshine" to have passed the Washington State Bar Exam. Amazingly, there are now two Sunshines practicing law in the Evergreen State. But only one is my Shine.

Next up is Janet. Janet and I were roommates for our last semester of college. Just thinking of her makes me smile. She had the cutest little body, but always wanted to lose weight. So, she would put these note cards all over the kitchen, "Don't do it!" or "Do you want to fit into your jeans?" At the time, I was the one that probably could have benefited from them, but she never said a word about it to me.

Janet had her own way of making things work. She took classes that were broadcast on the local cable channel. She was supposed to watch them during the scheduled times, then report to class to take tests or turn in assignments. Janet decided to save them all up, and then watched them for hours at a time. I came home one time to see her watching seven hours worth of lectures, while writing a paper, and walking on her stair-stepper. That's multi-tasking.

Janet returned to Oregon, "Where there's people who pump your damn gas!" and she lives with her daughter (who is approaching middle school, taking Chinese lessons, and becoming quite the figure skater). She also takes care of her elderly, mostly Chinese-speaking mother, while working full time. Janet does it all with more maturity and grace than I could muster.

One of Janet's recent Facebook status updates was: "Janet is looking at the beer she intended to drink last night, but forgot about." That's my Janet.

I owe a lot to the next person: Nicole. Nicole and I were both in the English department at NAU, so we understood the joy of Dr. Farness (teacher of Ancient and European Lit, who had a kick-ass voice when reading Dante) and the insanity of the former English Education advisor, who... oh-my-God-I-can't-believe-I-forgot-her-name! This woman struck such fear in my heart at the time and her name. just. vanished.

Anyway, Nicole and I could bond over Shakespeare and semi-colons, but I owe Nicole big time. She introduced me to Paul. She was dating Paul's best friend at the time, and while that relationship fizzled (both she and Paul's friend are now happily married to other people), Paul and I are approaching ten years of marriage.

She is the only person of the group who remains in Arizona. She teaches English at a high school in Tucson, and seems to be quite the poker shark.

Rounding out the group is Alli. Alli was my roommate my sophomore year, and she has a booming, joyful laugh that you could hear down the hallways of our dorm. Alli and I did lots of silly things, but what I remember the most about her is the evening. We would listen to Sarah McLaughlin as we drifted off to sleep, and we would talk about faith, men, family, fears, hopes. She was the last thing I heard before I went to sleep, and, to this day, I can't think of anybody who hugs better than Alli.

Alli lives in Texas, and is a big-time businesswoman. She is the most resilient person I know.

I don't know how I fit into this group, because while I am still the same person I was back then, I'm also different. I'm a mother. I'm wiser. I'm also much more of a lightweight.

Sunrise Services is but an excuse to get together. When we raise our glasses in the wee hours of the morning, we won't only be celebrating our history, but we will celebrate the people we have become. I can't wait.

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