I loved Houghton College even before I went. Visiting campus with my parents to their own class reunions, attending soccer camp, and seeing my big brother shave his head as part of the men's soccer team helped me realize that Houghton was a special place. Nestled in the hills of Allegany County, it's definitely rural, but the absence of stores, malls, and even a grocery store forces the student body to bond. At least, that's how it worked for my closest college friends. An amalgamation of Highlander friendships, FYHP attendees, and roommates, we shared a special bond that grew strong and deep during our four years together. In fact, it was such a strong connection that we all felt the separation post May 2007 down to our cores. I know I was surprised to be so lonely without these women.
Despite the distance that separated us, our friendships continued to grow. We instituted a monthly email, intended to keep us from becoming Christmas-letter-only friends. It works, with some of us writing on time, some of us writing late, and some of us procrastinating for a month or two. (I fall into the last category right now.) We've also managed not one but two reunions -- more if you count the three weddings that we've shared. Not everyone has been able to make it to each of these events, but oh boy, have them been wonderful! Last February we met up in Chicago. We crowded together in a hotel, froze in the city, and made a joyful memory.
This year, spurred by the quick stateside visit of one of our (currently) international amigas, we decided to meet outside of Washington, D.C., the first weekend of February. Not to be outdone by the frigid temperatures experienced in Chicago, this trip happened to occur in the massive snowstorm that blasted the East Coast. We all managed to arrive and leave safely, including Kate and her baby daughter, who flew in from Minneapolis, MN. The feet of snow that we got ensured that we had lots of time to sit and chat, but unfortunately also mandated that we dig out our cars.
This was the Sub, part way through its unearthing. It really wasn't much fun to shovel out our cars, but fortunately, everyone pitched in (except for the baby, but I guess we can't blame her). It actually provided a decent way to work of some of the calories we ate (and ATE) during that weekend.
And although next year we vowed to meet in Vegas, this reunion proved to become another unforgettable memory. Being able to talk, eat, laugh and pray together was another reason I'm thankful for the time I spent at Houghton.