I read an article recently about the British Museum publishing  The History of the World in 100 Objects and it got me thinking about my own top 100 things that have shaped my life—among them, my college experience (@ Bowling Green State University), and specifically my friendship with a group of fellow resident advisers.

I wrote an oped awhile back but wasn’t successful in getting it published. Too sappy, too “who cares.” But now that I’m self-publishing, I dug it back up. I like it. If only for sentimental reasons. It was about a reunion with friends more than a year ago.

Twelve of 21 of us made it to the reunion—I like to count Joan’s husband Greg (RIP) as one of the bunch. Most of us hadn’t seen each other in 30 years. How we could come together after that long a period of time—and pick up just about where we left off—has been a joyous mystery to me.

I credit John Vautier, our boss-the hall director, for a lot of what occurred among our group at the reunion, and while we worked together as RAs. John was (assume still is) a gifted leader. He had a great respect and appreciation for the individual but also seemed to understand team dynamics. In fact, when we were together, John shared a theory about our group he borrowed from Peter Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline.” Senge says what is most striking for members of an effective team is . . . being part of something larger than themselves, of being connected, of being generative . . .  Experiences as part of truly great teams stand out as singular periods of life lived to the fullest. Some spend the rest of their lives looking for ways to recapture that spirit.”

We definitely were a group that learned together, which is Senge’s premise. Great teams are learning teams.  As RAs, we dealt with suicide, rape, abortion, depression, abuse, prejudice, failed college attempts, disease, divorce, death, sex, birth and marriage.  As students’ confidants, we shared in myriad life-changing events. We also often shared with each other our innermost thoughts and fears, our hopes, our dreams and occasionally our beds. For the most part, we did not share the same beliefs, the same socioeconomic background, a similar lifestyle or even the same values or sexual orientation. If only we could bottle whatever it was that made us want to find common ground, to respect each other, and to explore and celebrate what made us different.

Thirty years later, we’re all over the place geographically and occupationally. Yet we still have this hard-to-explain, amazing bond.  A blind acceptance of one another.  An easy trust.  These 12 people know me. They may not all know what I do for a living exactly. Or what degrees I hold. They may not know the names of my stepchildren. Or even my husband. They may not agree with my choices. But they know who I am at the core and who I always will be.  Because much of that core was crafted with them and by them.  Maybe, in a couple instances, despite them.

We talked about another reunion. My fear is, it will ruin the first.

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