In college, my friends could basically be put into one of two categories.  Volleyball friends, and Studio.  Those two categories pretty well sum up how I spent most of my time for those few years.  I feel very fortunate that both categories have established friendships that I continue to cherish to this day.  It seems appropriate, this week of Thanksgiving (a little delayed in posting…having some technical issues with adding photos to this post…argh), to write a post that’s primarily about gratitude for some of the people in my life.

The volleyball friends never really understood where I went when I had to go to “Studio.”  They didn’t have majors that allowed them 24/7 access to their own private workspace.  They usually weren’t pulling all-nighters, either.  So when I said I had to leave volleyball open gym to get back to work in Studio, it was pretty nebulous to them.  Some of them thought I was making up this mystical place.  Not so the 16 other people with whom I shared said Studio.  ASU’s interior design program required that design majors “apply” for upper division in their major after sophomore year.  We had to submit portfolios and transcripts and take part in an all-day design charette.  Out of 50+ applicants, 17 were admitted to upper division for the remaining 3 years (it was a 5-year program).  So for those last three years of college, this group – 16 women and one guy – was my sorority, of sorts.

We realized a year or so into upper division that our little group was unique.  We talked to students in the class behind us, and they were so competitive, they would ask questions during critiques designed to trip each other up…our classmates, on the other hand, asked questions to help the presenter remember what she wanted to say, but in her state of sleep-deprived delirium, had forgotten.  We were competitive, but in a way that raised the bar for everyone, and made you proud to be part of the group.  We had studiomates that helped each other put together the last-minute touches of a presentation board, or lent a hand to glue together a model that had fallen apart right before the crit.  We celebrated holidays together with massive pot-lucks.  Even before graduation, we started the circuit of weddings, and then shortly after, babies – all of which made great excuses for reunions.

Fast forward 14 years, and we still keep in touch.  I just got back from a weekend in Arizona where we got 9 out of the 17 together for another little studio reunion of sorts.  It started out as a chance to introduce my 4-month-old son to the group, but was really just a long overdue opportunity to get everyone together and catch up, husbands and children included.  And in typical form, our get togethers are marked by a real show of support for whatever challenges life might be throwing our way – whether it be an ailing parent, a sick kid, or a marriage in trouble – all without judgement.

It was so comforting to be around this group.  I’m one of the last to join the “motherhood” club of our circle, and it was wonderful to feel the support of a bunch of moms whom I trust to be real with me about the challenges of raising a child.  So when I admitted that my son wasn’t sleeping through the night, or anything close to it, I got a lot of reassuring nods from friends who had been there and were willing to admit that their kids sometimes still didn’t sleep through the night.  And when I had to interrupt a conversation with one friend to tend to my crying infant who was outside with Dad, she called after me, “good sentence!” like “good talk!”, and with a shared smile, we both knew that she meant it, and she understood what I had to do, and that we’d eventually pick up where we left off.  Just like we always do.

People talk about friends being the family you choose, but in this case, we didn’t really choose.  It’s like life chose for us.  And for us, the word “Studio” has come to mean something very close to “family.”