To my Hollins Sisters [of the Alumnae Board]—
It’s almost as though a lifetime could fit into the past four years—births, sicknesses, successes, struggles, celebrations, absences, loss, uncertainty, renewal, endings, and beginnings. You’ve seen me at my worst and my near-best and all in-between. I arrived for our first gathering those years ago so excited but equally unsure—a recognition of the accomplished, amazing women who would also be part of our group, wondering what exactly I might be able to contribute. Who was I to be on this board? What did I bring to the table that a million others couldn’t even more adeptly?
How short-sighted of me amongst a group of big-picture visionaries like you.
You have been a touchstone for me. Certainly in the place herself—protected and so gently surrounded by mountains, the campus settled serenely in a breathtaking valley, its geometric architectural arrangement another embrace around green spaces and hallowed walkways. Above all, Tinker Mountain, like a loving, watchful mother, sends a subconscious signal that I am home—no matter how long it has been since my last visit. Once through the gates, relief, joy, peace, and contentment seep in quickly but subtly. I breath it in and revel in the tiniest details so familiar and cherished.
Beyond the geography of the place, it is you who are the soul of it. We all are. I am, I think, my best self with you in this place—mostly because I see your beauty, intellect, wisdom, your absolute original spirit reflected in my own. Your encouragement, faith, trust, hope, sincerest support, and unhesitating constant-ness have urged me on these past years when I wasn’t certain I could—or wanted to, for that matter. I am filled up with you and stronger having shared this time together.
Though college years brought plentiful onstage performances of Marvin Gaye to fraternity and debutante crowds, it took an impromptu dance party to an audience of three to remind me of the courageous, fun-loving, authentic, remarkable spirit we all share. Whatever I may have lost (or thought I did) is found—regained in your smiles, singing, clapping, dancing, head-back laughing, twirling, and whole-hearted celebration. Though we have the video to prove it, I’ll not soon forget.
With a few last moments on campus this past weekend (post-dance party) I rocked in the sun on the porch of Main, the quiet bareness of Front Quad in winter still so beautiful to me, and I smiled thinking of our time together. I smiled even more surely, realizing with certainty and happiness (like a room without a roof!) that I’m becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be—the one I suppose I’ve been all along, but now have the strength to show. Thank you—so much more than you know—for being part of her discovery.