Like Handprints on My Heart

I read this blog today from my friend Jenny and have spent the rest of the morning thinking about my college years, mostly the last one spent at 820 E. 8th Street. It was perhaps the most important year of my college experience, and I think I probably learned more in those 9 months with those 5 girls than I ever thought possible. I learned it’s always best to laugh at yourself, too, and that sometimes just getting to sleep can be a challenge. I learned that a girl can really never have enough shoes and that the Target “red & khaki” rule is a lot more fun when you share it with your housemates. I learned that classes are good, but maybe not the most important part of college, and I learned that there is nothing more precious in the world that being loved when you feel like you are at your worst.

I’ve spoken often about Liz, one of my best friends and in so many ways and ‘kindred spirit.’ In honor of Jenny’s blog, I give you the girls of 820, circa 2000-2001–

Michelle, whom I probably thought I knew reasonably well, became all the more real to me during that year. She was the most dedicated to school, and the sweetest person you could meet, even if you didn’t always understand her. Sure, she was a little naïve, but she always seemed to laugh at and with us, even when we were threatening her with dogs and heads of lettuce, the two things she feared the most. Her blend of innocence and silliness made her an interesting housemate. A fondness for pop music and country, and really wanting to make people happy, was what made Michelle who she is today. A teacher, a friend, and someone who loves to have fun. And, of course, it was her one poorly-executed event in the basement made me drop the “F-Bomb” in the CSF house…

Janel was the youngest of the 820 girls, but definitely grew up a lot the year I knew her. Today, she is the only one of us that is married and has a child. Fiery red hair and a personality to match, Janel loves her friends and will fight for them. Her “drama queen” shirt may have summed up part of the year, but I think that we all learned a lot through that drama. We studied together, watched bad 90210 reruns together, and played games. We laughed at everything, and she could always make you feel special. She fell in love with the man she would later marry that year, and giraffes decorated her half of the room. Janel stood strong, but I think took the parting of ways at the end of the year harder than any of us imagined. She lived through the next year, in a different group of 820 girls, but I don’t think it was ever the same for her.

Jenny (Ms. Mott, Menny, JMo…the list goes on and on) You have always been a friend to me. Wise beyond your years, your honest pursuit of God has taken you to the highest mountains and the lowest valleys. Your passion for music created a deep longing in your heart to fill the world with beauty, and that is something you did every day of my life.

I remember when you and Sarah came to CSF and we ran to the store to get soda. Do you remember me asking you if you could turn left on red on a one way street to another one way street, only to then discover that it was, in fact, a two way street and I’d just broken the law in a big fat way?

It was just a couple years later that we laughed and cried together through broken engagements, upside down pictures, and inside jokes. It was then that we watched too much TV and rolled our eyes at people who just didn’t get it. It was then that I laughed until I cried as I got to know you better, and that I heard you say so clearly that I was fine just the way I was. I remember the night that Guy left and I remember wanting to take that pain from your tender shoulders. I remember not saying the right words, but knowing you understood me. I remember watching you grow, though deeply wounded and hurt, into someone who really could withstand anything. I remember waking up to your laughter as you and Liz decided to find everything you could “ALF” related on the internet one night. And only your wake-up call could instill such a classic response as “indeed it is.”

Liz…what can I say that I haven’t already said? She is the glue that held me together throughout college. Sharing a room, I learned that a girl can never have enough clothes (or shoes) and that the really important things are often written in haste on scraps of construction paper (like “It’s baby time!”). Liz knows me almost too well and understands me even better. She knows that I can be emotional and probably a little irrational at times. And, she knows that sometimes the only thing to do is sit in our room and watch “Return to Me” and “Never Been Kissed.” She taught me the beauty of lightning and that no matter how bad the storm, the sun always rises. She told me that, beautiful singing voice or not, I could still praise with her. She understood that part of me was fragile, and took that part of me under her wing.

I woke up to late-night messenger conversations and she was there during the “Alf” thing, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. She was also the one there when I found out that Harry had his first heart attack and while I was waiting to hear the results of my mother’s back surgery.

We worked together, laughed together, had class together, skipped class together, and grew together. Only we could sit through some of those English classes and laugh and know that we would get good grades, simply because the prof knew we got it.

There is so much about Liz and living with her that I will never forget…and I know I won’t have to, because she’ll be right next to me through every event in my life. She recently went to NYC and saw Wicked. After seeing it, she told me that “For Good” had become her favorite song.

I can understand why. And, after this morning, reflecting on life at 820 and listening to “Worship’s Greatest Hits, Disc 1” I can’t think of anything more appropriate…

(Elphaba)

I’m limited

Just look at me – I’m limited
And just look at you
You can do all I couldn’t do, Glinda
So now it’s up to you
For both of us – now it’s up to you…
(Glinda)

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew youI have been changed for good
(Elphaba)

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
(Glinda)

Because I knew you
(Both)

I have been changed for good
(Elphaba)

And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the thing I’ve done you blame me for
(Glinda)

But then, I guess we know
There’s blame to share
(Both)

And none of it seems to matter anymore
(Glinda)

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
(Elphaba)

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood
(Both)

Who can say if I’ve been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better
(Glinda)

And because I knew you…
(Elphaba)

Because I knew you…
(Both)

Because I knew you…
I have been changed for good.

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