On summer memories and kitten costumes and best friends

We met in the summer of 1998, and we didn’t know yet that it would later be referred to as “THE summer.” You know, the one that tops all others. Erin invited me to be her roommate at the sorority house of which I would later become a member, and Colleen had been invited by Corinne to do the same.

There were 8 of us in the house that summer, and we had nothing to do but enjoy the sun, enjoy the booze, and enjoy the boys across the street in the fraternity house. Colleen had a boyfriend, Jimmy, so she was a little more behaved than the rest of us, but only a little.

It was an amazing summer, one that simply can’t be described unless you were there. It’s the one that makes you think of your version of “THE summer” in your life – you know the one.

Colleen and I celebrate her birthday on Saturday night. She doesn't look a day over 22.
Colleen and I celebrate her birthday on Saturday night. She doesn't look a day over 22.

We walked from the bar to the sorority house and stopped to swim in the fountain just because it was there. We climbed in the fire escape window because no one ever remembered their keys. We stole charters from the boys across the street after they stole ours. We stole street signs from the boys across the street after they stole them from the street. We played poker and we drank wine from a box. We grilled out as well as 8 girls can grill out – and we didn’t even laugh too hard when Ginny lit the charcoal on fire on top of the grill instead of underneath. We woke each other up for work and cooked breakfast together.

We kept tabs on each other, we took care of each other. We were good influences on each other. We were bad influences on each other. It’s the time of your life you have nothing to do but be happy to be alive.

“Ghetto Supastar” became “our” song that summer, for a reason that only made sense after a few too many PJs, but it stuck. To this day when I hear “Run away with me/To another place / We can rely on each other …” I think of Colleen. Over the next few years we spent all of our time together. We shared apartments and another summer at the sorority house. We spent our time the night before Carolina Cup dumping Sprite out of 16 oz bottles and putting Zima in its place, since we weren’t yet 21. We dressed up for Halloween, me as a flasher and she as a kitten (funny, since she hates cats.) I held her when she and Jimmy broke up. She held me when “he” asked me for a commitment I could not give, so he chose her – the sure thing – over me – the “wildcat” (As I’ve been recently nicknamed – and I love it!) We fought over nothing – the most memorable part of our fights being the time she yelled “shit” at me and Shannon bowled over laughing at the way she said it (which made her even more angry at the time!)

We didn’t pass economics together, but we did pass history. We didn’t make the Dean’s List, but we did make friends everywhere we went. We traveled together. We planned parties together. We left college and somehow found ourselves as “adults” together (ok, not really adults …) I married her brother, so she is now my sister, but I always remember she’s my best friend first.

Today she turns 30. When I met her she was almost 19. How is it that so much time has passed? Have I really known her for 11 years? I feel our time together has been 11 minutes and 11 years, all at once.

Happy birthday, Colleen. To the next 11 years. (Sheesh, by then we’ll be in our 40s …)