Coming of Age in the Estrogen Castle: or The Sexual Revolution of Words

Bess and Bianka

Here is a blast from the past. A Picture of Bess and Bianka sharing a moment in the room Bianka and I shared.  I did my best finding photos. I couldn’t find one of Olivia. But, I did find a typical dramatic picture of Julie and I. Imagine, our college years were before the time of Digital Cameras. Good thing I’m now cool enough to have a scanner. Also,  that was 14 YEARS AGO MAN. Thats a LONG time. But, that time in my life is still so dear to me.

Julie and I


This is what we called ourselves. There were five of us. Three sophomores; Julie, Olivia and I, and two freshmen; Bianka and Bess. We spent a lot time together. Mostly in the room that Bianka and I shared. I gained a cool pair of shoes when we moved out of there. Olivia had left them behind, as she often left items behind. It was as if she was trying to stake her claim or leave a part of herself with us to insure lasting friendship.

We are all still friends in one way or another. Facebook is a GREAT little tool. But, it’s not exactly how we had imagined it when we dreamed of growing old together. Yes we were, passionate, serious and percocious.

We spent our time listening to music (a lot of Tori Amos!) and hanging out. We could talk about anything. And we did. It was a lovely little Ivory Castle we created for our selves. Perhaps we weren’t as pure or erudite as some. But, we plunged many depths of faith, belief, art and friendship…and of course, MEN. Or boys as they were at the time. We were discovering ourselves, coming of age, and were using words and each other to do it. Bess wrote songs. Bianka and I wrote poetry. And, we spent hours trying to lay it all out; life, love and happiness.

It was from these girls that I learned an early lesson of love. Maternal love wants good for the other person more than self. And, I remember being at an audition for Kiss Me Kate and hearing Bess sing, with her beautiful voice, and in that moment I felt a strong tug of maternal love. I wanted her to succeed more than I wanted anything for myself.

Bess had a saying called “Recess Rush.” Which is defined as that moment of pure joy when, as a kid you realize there is no more work to be done, and it is time to go outside and play. It is a guttural feeling. Truly lovely. And I still use that idea and saying to this day! It neatly defines a certain moment of pure joy.


JULIE: Julie was the feminist. The transfer student. Possibly the queen of drama. She was Canadian. A great comedic actress. I remember thinking it was weird that she liked to spend time alone watching movies and eating Dorito’s. I was very much into the group vibe and activity while in college. Julie and I kept in touch farely well. I even visited her several times in her New York City apartments. But, somehow I lost her. It makes me sad. I miss her. She was a great friend! We shared many hours together in college hashing out our separate and defining heart breaks.

OLIVIA: Olivia was the wild card. She had thick dark curly hair and olive skin. She was the tough one. She called me pumpkin head when I died my hair red. Other than Facebook. She and I didn’t really keep in touch at all. But, she seems to be doing really well for herself, and I am SO happy for her successes.

BIANKA: Bianka was the sweetest. She was great at writing letters and keeping in touch over the summers. She would share anything from Starlight mints, to a late drunken trip (she was sober) to Denny’s, to her car when I drove home to Sanford, NC in order to vote in my first Presidential election.  She’s just so sweet, still is!  She was a great listener and a fiercely loyal friend.  And, she was way smart. The straight A type. She put herself through private college. She’s also one tough chick. I’m sure she had lots of scholarships because of her brilliance. But with all of life to balance she barreled through at the top of her game.  She met a boy, fell in love, got married and has recently had her second baby.

BESS: Bess was the artist. I loved to hear her sing and play the piano. She wrote her own stuff. At the time, she didn’t really read music well though, so it all just flowed out of her naturally. She even wrote a piece for a play that I did where I had to play the piano as the character on stage. She taught it to me note by note. She was the wisest philosopher among us. She could talk a pretty blue streak, and make you believe anything. Not that she was lying, but that you had never thought of such things before. She left us Catawba girls to go study music at the NC School of the Arts. She was missed, but we have kept in touch the best of all. She’s an open heart, and a great place to land. Like another friend said recently. It is really important to have friends who have known you for a long time. And I say it’s a gift to have friends who KNOW you and all your quirks and shenanigans and still choose to love you truly and deeply.

ME (CAROLINE): I was always in a bubble of my own making. Bess would act it out. I often day-dreamed about my boy, and the heart he left in pieces behind. My mind got stuck on these things. And, I would either think about it (all through class) or talk about it, as much as my friends could bear. I was also very passionate about the theatre, and spent MANY hours painting sets and rehearsing. I was a bit of a workaholic for those four years, and for many years after that. Those four years were the days of my life in many ways!!

I want to leave you with a poem that I wrote during that time, about these same sweet girls.


The Eternal, Unconditional, Beauty of Us

In the love we share
I find truth
And freedom from pain and remorse

In the beautiful sunset
You curtsy
Glowing while you giggle
With your chapstick laden lips
And my heavy heart fills with joy

In the humid room full of memories
I think of your hugs and love
As you play the piano singing
Flushed pink with nervous embarrassment
Proving her favorite
“Oh thou seest we are not all alone unhappy”

Your velvet hard-core pride smiles
As you tell your new story
Of running with him
Or trying
I smile at you calling me Pumkinhead
Knowing you can only be you
And loving you for it

Driving in the rain
You double over laughing with me
Of small penises and good sex
You brighten my day with your silliness

All of us together
With my belly laughter
Emotional roller coaster

Love wells up among us
As we walk through wet grass and honeysuckle
Pointing at the sunset
Made beautiful by pollution








7 Comments Add yours

  1. amy gay says:

    College was indeed amazing. We all learned so much in those years. Mostly, about ourselves. Glad you’re back writing again!

    Now, where’s a pic of LJ???!!!! Haha

    1. Yes, we did! Thanks, Amy, for coming by.

  2. Oh, I missed a part. Amy, I’ll post some pics of the cute one soon:)

  3. Bess McCrary says:

    This made me laugh out loud and smile bunches!!! So glad you’re writing again!!!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for the prompts.

  4. Kjome says:

    I loved this post! Those Catawba days were amazing, challenging, and life altering. I wouldn’t ever want to do it again, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world either.

    1. Thanks Kjome! Those were days, although sometimes I think I might want to do it again, those days I’m CRAZY!

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