Our Purple & Gold Story
Everyone has a story. If that person was fortunate enough to go to James Madison University, she likely has many great stories. Our story (I say “our” and “we” because this story has 13 main characters) began in 2006.
We are: Annie, Brittany, Casey (moved into our house and hearts in 2009), Emily, Heidi, Rachel (me), Chris (Tish), Christian, Colin, Doug, James (Stud), Jared (Gramps), and Tyler. We come from five different states, some of us are the youngest of our families and some of us are the oldest-none of us are the middle children. We were all placed in Gifford Hall. Most of us applied to live there. One of us (Stud), luckily just got placed there (on the all female floor, may I add), and another (Emily) had leg injury, which subjected her to crutches for her first month of college and needed to be in a dorm that was accessible.
This is, in fact, a true story of 12 strangers, picked to live in a dorm, eat, study and play together. This story also how they grew from college freshmen into a family that spends every New Year together and all of the joy, grief, and growth they’ve shared in between the bookends of the year.
We tailgated every home game together (thanks to Emily’s selfless parents who came and provided us with a BBQ every single game). We took classes together. We spent hours at D-Hall together (we once even ate breakfast, sat and talked for a while, then got up for lunch). We studied together, we went out together, and we celebrated every birthday with a cake, candles, streamers, and sometimes dinner. We moved from Gifford to Logan together (and some to apartments and onto RA positions). Come junior year we had ourselves a little competition to see who could get a nicer off-campus house the fastest in a boys vs. girls battle. We went searching, got our houses and as the universe knew how much we needed to be close to the others, the boys’ house and the girls’ house were only .05 miles away from each other. Close enough for us to begin our traditions of sharing Thanksgiving dinner (the whole shebang-turkey, giving thanks, sides, and deserts) and secret Santa, which kicked off our winter breaks. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we found a bit of ourselves when we found one another. We grieved losses of loved ones together, we nursed one another back to health when one was sick, we weathered broken hearts together, and we always had a cheering section, a safety net, and a place to call home. We faced our demons together, we loved and were loved through some of our most difficult times. Some of us got to travel and study abroad together. We fought, we cuddled, we cried, and boy did we laugh and love. We know and love each friends’ family. And we now have our own.
Since graduation in 2010, we have sent over 4,000 emails, spent the end and the beginning of 4 years together post graduation and celebrated Casey’s and Jared’s beautiful wedding in 2012 (in which all of the guys were the groomsmen and the ladies were respectively a bridesmaid, the wedding singer, and the heartbeat of the dance floor). We have lost people dear to us, we have welcomed nieces and nephews into our lives, we faced terrifying experiences of almost losing fathers (both fathers are now doing miraculously well), and we felt the joy and pain of everyone’s experiences no matter how far away we were. Author Glennon Doyle Melton describes life as bruitiful (meaning it is both beautiful and brutal), I couldn’t describe it better myself. I have yet to find a better way to experience the brutal and the beautiful than with the best people I know: the ones that make the brutal times feel safe and the beautiful times miraculous.
We are currently all over the country (and even the world when Heidi is deployed with the Navy). We inhabit New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, California, Washington state, Louisiana, and Washington, DC. However, no matter how far away we live from one another, we have yet to sacrifice a New Year reunion. We’ve celebrated in Boston, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, Long Island, and Lewes Delaware.
Everyone has a story. If that person was fortunate enough to go to James Madison University, she likely has many great stories.
From our story was born a family. I’d usually say it can’t get much better than this, but with a family like ours, it gets better every day.