Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rushing Past

I am SOOO excited to participate in the Write on Edge prompt this week after a long hiatus. I can tell I'm rusty, but so glad to be back!

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Though nervous, I felt uncharacteristically confident. After all, I wasn't going to pledge; I was only rushing as an avenue of meeting people. A friend back home who had become BFF's with a girl in her rush group had suggested it. Not to mention that I was a junior transfer amid a group of twenty twittering freshman girls who had no idea what university life was like. Not that I did either; living at Mom and Dad's while attending the local junior college does not a university scholar make. But surely being two years older than them, I was wiser, or at least more learned than they. Surely, I had a better sense of self, having two solid decades of living behind me.

Who was I kidding? The entire reason I'd moved 600 miles away was to "find myself" and be wholly self-sufficient. If you count relying on Sallie Mae as self-sufficient, that is. But it was true in the most important sense for me at the time. I really did not know a single person on the Colorado State University campus. And that was why I had chosen it. Well, that and the breathtaking view of the mountains. And the opportunity to minor in dance.

I could have stayed in my home state and attended KU. I'm a Jayhawk fan, and it would have cost half as much to attend twice as long. But it also would have been reliving high school as roughly three-quarters of my class was slated to go there. People told me it would be different; those 400 kids would be lost amid the 20,000 others on campus.

But it wouldn't have mattered. For me, knowing one of my former classmates could be around the next corner would mean I would be the same insecure version of myself that I had always been. And I wasn't too fond of that nerdy, awkward girl. I knew that inside, I was a better woman than that. I knew there was more to me. I just needed a chance to start over.

And so I approached each successive Greek house on the first round of the rush tour with aplomb. I was friendly, engaged, enjoying the gorgeous, hot August day. We arrived at the Pi Beta Phi house and our rush leader knocked on the gleaming white double doors. The chapter president opened it graciously and ushered us into the foyer, accompanied by a melody sung by a hundred, eager, smiling faces. The mingling began.

As I was led toward the refreshments, my equanimity shattered. The sorority girl ahead of me was from my high school. She saw me, flashed a sympathetic smile. I flushed. Fumbling my words, I tried to continue the small talk with the Pi Phi who was assigned to me, but I couldn't concentrate.

What was she doing here? She must think I'm so weird for rushing as a junior! This girl had never been rude to me, but we weren't friends, either. Just cordial classmates. It didn't matter that our past was ambivalent. She knew me. My clumsy, ineffectual ways broke through the strong exterior I'd adopted that morning. The thirty-minute visit dragged on as she and I did a delicate dance of avoidance. I felt only relief as I left that house.

Thankfully, I was able to pull myself together and complete the day with poise, albeit less confidently than I began. Though my time in Colorado did result in growth and self-assurance, one of the things that rush taught me was that you can't escape your past. Avoiding it only ensures its resurfacing. I learned to be ready, and when the time comes, to embrace it.

This week's Write On Edge prompt was: "So often in our lives, defining moments occur when our past and our present or our future clash. For this week’s RemembeRED prompt, write a memoir post describing such a time and the results."
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