OK — so, maybe, I still am. This week, I simultaneously discovered a bloggers network for members of my sorority (technically, a women’s fraternity, but anyway yay!) and I also happened to go to an event for my sorority’s local alumnae chapter this week and while it was fun because it was at a place that I love to go; I still get antsy about contextualizing my Greek girl experience on occasion. Look, I’ve read The Twisted Sisterhood and I’ve seen some of those movies — I know some of the stuff that supposedly goes on out there, which is enough to make you want to reckon with your own experiences, even if it was nothing like that.
I really enjoyed the gathering, wore a letter shirt but hated the part where we have to talk about what you do and your awesome career (plus I don’t have one, unless MFA wielding creative-person-trying-to-get-by counts). No one wants to be the Debbie Downer while everyone else is perky, not in the midst of all these women who I don’t know all that well, spanning a variety of schools and walks of life. Precisely because of the unfamiliarity in alumnae chapters where people may move in and out of a lot, you’re not sure what we’re all presenting sometimes. We’re cautious. Polite. We rep alma maters and our respective chapters while building lives and selves, still. I am reminded of the fragility of human connection. We’re connected — and how. Yet disparate. Plus, I sometimes hate the ubiquitous stereotypes of sorority girls and it’s all I think of whenever I happen to don Greek letters. You know, viral stuff like this:
Other times, I don’t care. Sometimes I don’t give a flying hoot if someone wants to unfairly label me. Sometimes, I feel like a fraud. Sometimes none of it feels real. And so it is I ended up happily pledging a sorority that some years ago, (unknown to me at that time), at another campus, allegedly wouldn’t even rush a girl who shared my color. Meanwhile, not too long ago, on Facebook, a sister in school in the mid-west, reached out to me excitedly one day saying that she was looking for other black sisters to connect with and she was so happy to find me in the group.
In many bigger schools with longer Greek traditions, (like, not my undergrad) the lines are famously and problematically etched between race and pledging and the notion of brotherhood and sisterhood can be fraught with these allegiances (perceived or otherwise). This sister felt the need to connect with others who looked like herself within a historically white Greek association while, at times, feeling the initial pressure of not going the black Greek route in her school.
A friend said to me, when I mentioned said event: “Wait! Hol’ up! — You’re in a sorority?!” (An exclamation I often hear).
“Yes.” I kind of cringed at his incredulity.
It’s not something I broadcast all over the place, not because it bothers me per se, it’s just complicated sometimes and it’s such a loaded proclamation depending on whose company you are in. So, I’m not a typical sorority girl –whatever that is. And I’m okay with that. Except I know I’m not that atypical. I can think fondly about my old chapter filled with young women running the gamut: girls with the same Trini accent as me, preparing for med school or law school, Birkenstock wearers, sci-fi lovin’ and dungeons and dragons playing, liberal and conservative, slightly socially awkward, thick, thin, confident, shy, differently abled, beach blond, brunette, black, white, mixed, Latina, Filipino, straight, bi, out-femme-lesbian, soft-butchy-lesbians — and more.
That was the kind of chapter that I pledged. Hardly cookie-cutter. All of us looking to find a place in something with one another. And, for the most part, we did.