October 22, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: The Happiest Kind of Tears

I’d like to preface this post by letting you know that I don’t cry. I've made it through The Titanic, Marley & Me, even The Notebook without one glistening tear. I have come to look at the world in a logical way, and lost touch with a bit of my emotional side in the process.

Now, to my story. I live in the Alpha Phi house at my school, a reimagined apartment building. What it lacks in character it makes up for in utility: we are located in the heart of campus, have our own kitchens and enjoy an amazing front lawn. The establishment is certainly not the typical sorority house, but to us, it is home.

Moving in on my first day back to school this year couldn't have been more different than move-in day freshman year. My roommates and I dove headfirst into a seven hour workday of painting the walls, getting a crash course in just how difficult taping off ceilings and getting the corners really can be. It was an afternoon of hysterical laughter, recounting our summers and planning out future adventures for the coming year. It wasn't like moving into an anonymous dorm with 500 strangers as neighbors, it was moving into a home with 47 sisters to call when I run out of coffee creamer or need to go on a spontaneous sushi binge.

Fast forward a month to two days before recruitment. We were having a meeting in the basement with the advisors, huddled around our TV. They had cameras trained on us, and told us we would be watching a video. I thought it was somewhat odd that they were filming us, but with the lack of sleep I had been getting due to the coupled excitement and anxiety of recruitment being 48 hours away, I didn't have the brain capacity to put together what was about to happen.

The video started off with pictures from our first chapter meetings. They were held in a classroom in one of the campus buildings. The Iota Xi chapter of Alpha Phi was installed at DU in 2010, so we are still a relatively new chapter. We giggled at the images, thinking about how far we have come since then. I looked around at our basement – this small, cozy space we share – and had never loved it more. The video progressed and started showing pictures of Alpha Phi houses across the nation. Goosebumps shot across my body and as I looked out at my sisters and saw that we were all shaking with anticipation, I knew that the feeling was mutual. This was the moment our chapter had been waiting on for years – was it really about to happen? Finally, the screen displayed an architectural drawing of an Alpha Phi house and announced to us that we would have a new home at DU come Fall 2016.

A surge of emotion that had been building in the room since the start of the video burst out into screams, cries, and laughter. Our advisors were wiping tears away, trying to capture the moment on film. I can tell you now that there is no way the footage could do it justice.

Our apartments, which we lovingly refer to as “Chilltop,” are our home. The memories that each year has brought – candy apple making in the basement, Sex in the City marathons on the couch – can never be erased. However, the moment that our chapter learned we were getting a new house, a real house, was a moment that represented to us all just how far our sisterhood has come in the years since our installation. Being a part of a sorority is not only about enjoying the immediate benefits, but also about getting to watch the chapter grow and mold its development for future initiates.

As I sat there in the midst of so many incredible, beautiful, genuine women whom I get to call my sisters, basking in the advent of getting a brand new home together, I did something that I don’t do: I cried.

Stella Swartz is a collegiate member at Denver (Iota Xi). Learn more about Stella by clicking here.

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