Family by Choice.


“We pick and choose who we want to remain close to, and once we’ve chosen those people, we tend to stick close by.”
~Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy)

AUTV

So … I really wanted to write this post yesterday, but instead I spent the day helping to clear out my grandmom’s room so new, smoother carpeting can be installed for when she gets home from the rehab facility. Then I really wanted to write this post earlier today, but I spent most of the day in the car – driving my mom to my grandmom’s orthopedist appointment, waiting for two hours (seriously, no exaggeration) until they were finished, driving to the rehab place, and then spending forever stuck in rush hour on the way home. Throw in some time to visit with my grandmom, and poof, now the sun has set. It’s all about adaptation, right?

Okay, back to the actual subject of this post. Saturday was a wonderful day. It was a special day. It was also an I-finally-get-a-break-to-just-enjoy-myself kind of day, and I owe that all to my second family. Who is that, you may ask? That would be my AUTVers, the group of us who ran the campus television station back in college. We were small in number, but big in passion for what we were doing. Newscasts, a soap opera, a live talk show, even a twenty-four hour telethon, the programming we created and produced most definitely spanned the spectrum. We learned about camera angles, about designing digitized graphics, about structuring broadcasts, about using a myriad of editing and computer programs to pull together a polished final product. But we also learned about so much more – about teamwork, about shared goals, about the kind of friendships that grow into a family. Most of my senior year was spent in the Communications building, and a majority of that time was spent with six of the most talented, wonderful people I could ever hope to meet – Amy, Brock, Melissa, Kevin, Bryan, and Anthony.

When the hard drive with my senior thesis on it crashed just three days before the whole thing was due, they offered to help me film new interviews for all the news stories I thought were lost forever. Bryan’s computer prowess saved my thesis (and my heart rate!), but I know without fail that had it not been salvageable, they would have all been there for me that weekend, no questions asked. That’s what we were. That’s who we are. I know a lot of people talk about their college experience being the best time of their lives, and while there were other parts of mine that I enjoyed, it wasn’t until the tv station became my home away from home that I truly got it. Did we have an actual studio? No. Did I lobby for a news desk for three years and never get it? Yes. Did only a handful of people actually watch AUTV’s channel nine? Probably. But that’s okay. We loved what we worked on. We lived it. We were proud of it. And, in the end, it taught me one of the most important lessons of all: you don’t just gain an expanded education in college. You gain an identity. You gain lifelong friends, these people who come into your life, leave a handprint on your heart, and never leave.

That’s what AUTV is to me. And when we all got together on Saturday, it didn’t matter than nearly two years had passed since the last time all seven of us had seen one another. It didn’t matter than it’s been more than five years since we wrapped our last production for the tv station. Because with a group like ours, with a family that comes not from genetics but from choice, you can pick up right where you left off. Being with everyone again felt like coming home. It felt like an oasis of calm in the sea of craziness that my life has become lately. We’ve all grown since our college days, and we’ve all branched off into new adventures. But even though the paths we follow may not be the same anymore, they still lead us back to one another. Choosing to stick close by to someone has nothing to do with distance and everything to do with devotion.

In the fall of 2004, we made a vow to take AUTV to the next level. In the spring of 2005, we looked back on a demo reel that highlighted not only the shows we produced, but also the bonds we’d formed. Six years later, it’s more clear to me than ever how lucky I am to have found these friends. We all add a different stitch to the tapestry – different from each other, different from the ones we wove back in college – and that’s a good thing. I believe that people come into our lives for a reason, and I’ll be forever grateful that they’re a part of mine.

Did you find a close-knit group like that in college? What activities and club were you involved in? Any special friendship stories to share?

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12 thoughts on “Family by Choice.

  1. I love this. I want this. It’s amazing that you guys have stayed in touch and have such a close relationship. <3 I hope I'm like this after I graduate. As for my college experiences…under construction. ;]

    • Under construction can definitely be a good thing sometimes – think of it this way, maybe it’s leading you to a group of people who will become lifelong friends. Susquehanna reminds me a lot of Arcadia in size/structure/setup, and that kind of environment really is so conducive to fostering strong relationships … when you see the same people all the time, you just automatically become close. They’d be lucky to have someone as wonderful as you in their lives!

  2. AWW Shari,
    I’m so glad you got a day to enjoy yourself, and doubly glad that you had an “extended family” network of friends in college.
    I had some incredible friends when i was in college. Most of them were older than me, and they taught me so much about life, on top of giving me some of the greatest memories and best times of college I could have ever hoped for!

    • Thank you!!

      It was so, so, so nice to have a day-long respite from everything and spend some time with such a fabulous group of people. I didn’t want to leave at the end of the evening!

      I’m so glad you had an equally as special network of friends that you found in college. It’s amazing how much you can learn outside of the classroom, too, isn’t it? There are lessons about life that linger on and on. And what can be better than creating so many wonderful memories in the process?!?

  3. College was SO much better than high school, wasn’t it?

    I loved your story. I, too, had a great group of friends in college. We were all nerdy English majors who wrote poetry and short stories and went to readings together. It was my first critique group. We’d get together at a different person’s apartment each week to do a quick writing exercise and then critique each other’s writing. I still miss having that kind of community here in the small town where I live. The internet is a nice substitute, but there’s nothing like the creative energy that flows when a lot of writers are in the same room talking about what they love to do.

    • Hmm … I actually really loved high school (the workload was heavy, but our district is small and that gave me the chance to truly know everyone and get involved with tons of extracurriculars), but in terms of forming lifelong connections and living special memories, I agree, college was fantastic.

      How cool is it that you were able to form a critique group in college? We had a few different English clubs, but (at least to my knowledge) nothing like that. It sounds like an absolutely terrific experience. You’re right – there’s an almost tangible kind of energy that crackles in the air when a group of writers are together and talking about their passion for it. You’re so lucky to have had that on a weekly basis! Do you still keep in touch with everyone?

    • It’s such a great feeling to have those ties that bind – even when they’re with people you don’t get to spend a lot of time with, just knowing they’re there is somehow comforting. I know a lot of people say it’s tough to make close friends after college – and it definitely takes some effort – but I’ve found some of my most amazing friends during this time period and treasure them all. I have faith you will, too!

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