Friend #35: Penny

I think Penny is one of the most enjoyable people on the planet.  And I’m so glad that the University of Michigan put our dorm rooms next door to each other freshman year.  UofM does freshman orientation throughout the summer, when students come and live in a dorm and register for classes.  If you aren’t able to come during the summer, you attend Fall Orientation right before classes start and move into your dorm room a week early.  This is when I met Bay Area friend Christi.  And Penny and I were about the two only people in our hallway that early.  I remember that we were shopping for books sometime that first week.  We were at Michigan Book  & Supply on the corner of State St. and North University.  She looked at me and said, “I feel like I could burst into tears at any moment.”
I looked back at her and said, “Me too.”
“I haven’t told anyone that yet.”
“Me either.”
I think she forever sealed a place in my heart at that moment.

Penny is a very talented pianist, and I continued to play the French horn the first two years of college.  She and I would often venture up to North Campus where the music school was to use the practice rooms.  We had a lot of the same classes, so we would study or work on papers together.  We danced with pre-med classes and the idea of becoming doctors.  I joined intramural soccer, having never played outside of gym class because Penny was trying to recruit people from the dorm for the team.  She had this beanie hat that she’d knit herself, which seemed remarkably difficult and impressive.  And one time, Penny was determined to use the word “exacerbate” in her next English paper, and she did!

I moved out of the dorms and Penny stayed in the dorms sophomore year, and we lost touch.  After various adventures, she wound up at the University of Washington in Seattle to get a PhD, so we reconnected when I was out there helping my friend Susan move.  She found a niche in political communication, and continued to play music around town.  After a round of interviews and offers, she’s stopping back home in the Twin Cities before embarking on her next adventure—becoming a professor in Amsterdam!

We enjoyed swapping stories and laughs over dinner.  Penny is so genuine and endearing and flat out funny.  It poured down rain while we were eating, and as I drove away from our time together, there was a rainbow.

This rainbow came out after it poured during dinner with Penny in St. Paul.

I think there needs to be an international Phase 2 of this journey!


One Response

  1. Aw, I love it!! You’re so sweet. You were my life saver that first year in the dorms…and it’s been SO fun to reconnect with you. Best of luck on the rest of the trip, and Phase 2 International is a brilliant idea! 🙂 xo

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