a "Wellesley Widow." I sang in this 14-member a'cappella women's singing group at Wellesley College and my weekends were full of concerts at other colleges up and down the East Coast - plus we went on a tour to Mexico and California. I was cool. Here's a link to the current Wellesley Widows site:
I write about this because I just got the link above in an email for alums of the group and memories flooded back as I heard snippets of the group singing - same style, some of the same songs and arrangements, same types of girls in the photos, totally took me back. Plus I'm doing a podcast tomorrow with The Roundtable on identity and have been reading some great online stuff on the subject- and I just edited an article yesterday for Learning Circles about identity - funny how things converge. So I've been thinking a lot about who I am and who I used to be and who I want to be and this Widows link showing up in my email inbox just fit in...
So the Widows is the oldest women's a'cappella group in the country and after going to one of their concerts and seeing how talented and funny and cool they were, I wanted IN. I was SO nervous to audition as this little clueless freshman - especially since I had to get special permission to show up late for auditions so I could finish church and then take the bus back to Wellesley in time to catch the end of auditions. And I had to wear my church clothes to the audition since there wasn't time to change and I wasn't sure how all this church stuff would affect my "coolness" in the eyes of these super-cool super-talented girls. I made it through first cuts and second cuts and then they said they'd post a list the next day of who made it. I went to sleep that night with my fingers crossed - only to be awoken after midnight by far-away singing on campus. The singing got closer and closer and it was obviously the Widows. Were they coming to sing to me because I got in? I hardly dared hope! But sure enough, they sang right into my dorm and down my hall into my room. No way! I made it! They finished their song, told me I was the newest "Widow" and presented me with a huge "challis" of champagne and said "drink from the challis and you'll officially be one of us!"
Problem. I don't drink. Never have - not a sip. What do to? Here were all these super cool girls standing there welcoming me into their awesome group that promised the adventure, fun and music I wanted so much. Would a sip really matter? Awkward pause as I held that huge glass and they all looked at me expectantly. I somehow managed to squeak out something like,"I'm so excited to be in your group but I just really don't drink alcohol at all." Another awkward pause. I'm sure some of them thought it was pretty silly to decline just one sip, but the group leader saved the day, stepped forward to take the challis from me, set the bottle of champagne they had for me with my name on it in gold in my desk and said "you can just give this to some friends - grab a coat and let's go sing to the other girl who got in." It was OK. I was in. And I was in as a church-going teetotaling Mormon - no secrets - they knew exactly what they were getting!
Throughout college, I sang with these wonderful girls. We traveled all over together and went to tons of post-concert parties together. They always made sure there were non-alcoholic drinks for me, sipped any available punch before letting me try it, and made sure I stayed clear of any men that they thought were questionable. We shared our ideas and thoughts and beliefs on road trips and developed beautiful bonds. And we sang some really great stuff. I miss singing. I miss making music. That used to be such a big part of my life and identity. Now I just sing lullabies to my kids and we sing in the car on road trips. I'm not even a really good singer - I'm a good "blender" but certainly not a soloist. I still wonder how I made it into the Widows. I guess it was meant to be.
Yes, I was a Wellesley Widow. That was a big part of my college identity. That and being a Mormon. Two identities many would have said couldn't go well together. But I've always had conflicting identities and somehow it all works out.
I think I'm going to do a flash-back post like this more often. I want to record these memories for posterity. And I want to remember who I was and how that affects who I am. I want to remember what I like and what is fun - sometimes moms don't even know what they like and what's fun for them because they don't get a chance to think about these things very much. I like music and I can infuse a lot more of it into my life. And I like friendships - deep, interesting ones with diverse people - and I can cultivate more of that too.