Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fluer de lis

When I first saw the sorority recruiters at the University of Oregon, all blond and perky and tan, I thought "there is NO WAY." I judged sororities and the women who joined. "Rich snobs" "Sellouts" or "Buying friends" were terms that abounded on campus. Why I went to the recruitment meeting is beyond me, and why I followed through the motions of rush is beyond me as well.

I was herded into house after house, talked to women who's faces blended together, drank cucumber water, raspberry water, blackberry water, banana water, plain water. I was asked about my interests, my grades, my background. Most of the women seemed fake to me, until I reached Kappa Kappa Gamma, a blue and white house on the corner of Greek Row.

I remember Bethany, a short, brown-haired girl with a smile that spoke volumns. She sat quietly on her bed and listened and laughed, and she felt like someone who I could truly be friends with, who I could look up to. I remember sitting at a table across from her during the final night of rush, watching her interact with her sisters. Everyone at the table was so happy, so bonded, and all shapes and sizes. They joked and acted silly. They didn't have fake tans or perfect teeth. Wow, the girls at this house are real, I thought.

Being in a sorority has its ups and downs, just like any relationship. Some years were great fun, others were harder as people joined cliques and started changing. But I am so thankful that I met two of my best frieds from that house, Annabelle and Deborah. I LOVE these women like sisters.
That is why I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma, and am proud to be an alumni today. One of our symbols is the Fleur de lis, which I was delighted to find growing in the front yard of the Bainbridge house. It's a sign of my college days, of friendship, of trying new things.


Dan-Eric Slocum said...

Your beautiful story here about "book by its cover" could serve as a talisman for all about the reality of painting people or groups with a broad brush. This rings true on so many different levels. Spending years as an on-camera local news anchor, I was frequently amazed at the stereotypes some uninformed people applied to me and my colleagues. We're all really just plain, old people. Even Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt cry, laugh, feel hunger, pain and joy. Over the years I've learned to shy away from stereotypes- but it's tough.

Colleen said...

Kappa Kappa Gamma, huh? That's called "Visa Visa Mastercard" at the U-dub! haha. Probably not the same in Oregon. I love your story. It's the reason I stayed away from Greek Row, but I met a lot of sorority girls through my classes that didn't fit the stereotype.

Travis said...

I was totally anti-greek all through college. I counted myself lucky for not going to a school where we even had the greek system. I looked down on anyone who was greek.

Then I met my dear friend Jeff. He was president of his fraternity at WSU and openly gay.

In some ways he's a 'typical frat boy' and it other's you would never guess it.

Thanks for sharing this...I would never have guessed you were greek.

Deborah said...

Kristin, I am honored and blessed that we have been friends for so long! I cherish all those memories of KKG and UO forever! I'm constantly surrounded by people judging and stereotyping in my line of work. People still get surprised when I tell them I was in a sorority, just like when I tell them I come from a Jewish family! (Inside joke =)) Every time I see an Iris or fleur de lis I think of Kappa. *SIGH*

Sue said...

I was also anti-Greek when I was at the UW, but I feel like I've outgrown it, finally. Kristin, you are so thought-provoking and perceptive. I love your writing---it's so NOT Lifebeat! haha I'll just keep writing about Sweet Pea and 'office space-like' antics!