By Ruth Giachino Zavitsanos
We met in the early 80s while pledging and living in the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority House at Marshall University. After graduating, we kept in touch with phone calls and greeting cards that grew sparser and sparser over the years. The Christmas cards never faltered and with the onset of the Internet, we connected (albeit, virtually) again through emails and texts. In the passed ten years we’ve had our “mini-reunions” at a wedding, the mountains, the beach and most recently, the island of Manhattan.
Six of us Alpha Chi’s had put aside time from work and family to spend three laughter filled nights and four fun loving days in New York City. That’s certainly what the brochure would’ve read had I (the self-appointed hostess and tour guide since I grew up outside of NYC) printed one up during the planning stages for our getaway. After weeks of late night searching on AirBnB I found a place suitable for the six of us to rent. We’d be joined intermittently by a “sister” who has been residing in NYC for decades and another who managed to come up from Washington D.C. for the day and masterfully took us through the subway system for our Staten Island Ferry ride, featuring Lady Liberty.
We were all pleased with the charming Brownstone in the Flat Iron District of Manhattan where we met after taking planes, trains, and automobiles to get there. We privately shared the entry code with one another. On the first night back one of us shared it with the Flat Iron District, making a joke of shouting out another more historical code to remember, 1776, that never actually existed for entry. “That’ll throw them off course.”
On our first day we took in all of the sights Mid-town had to offer; St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Broadway, Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, and Time Square. Since the others hail from the south and are used to a much slower pace, I was kindly asked to “Dial it back.” I reminded myself we had three more days and I didn’t need to jam pack everything into the first day. But, it seems every time I go to NYC I become that seventeen year old girl filled with wonder, energy and enthusiasm. Later that day when we arrived back at the Brownstone to relax before changing for dinner and a Broadway play, we all wondered, “Just how far did we walk today?” In an instant several of us pulled out our fitbits. 23,000 steps! We’d walked 23,000 steps. And, there’d be more steps to walk that evening. All of us were more flabbergasted by this revelation than anything else. We weren’t trying to set any kind of a walking record. Though we all agreed that was our personal individual best by a long shot.
During those 23,000 steps (give or take a few) that we did each day throughout our stay, nothing bothered us. How can that be? We all had such a positive flow of energy and were so happy to be together that even a place like New York City couldn’t drain us. Each of us caught up with one another at various times and never left anyone out. All of us had our strengths that shined throughout because just like we did in our college days, we drew on those strengths from one another creating perfect harmony.
Of course, we recalled with admiration those days that brought us together in the sorority house; the somewhat crazy cook, the flirtatious houseboys and the astounding housemother with her quirky poodle, Chi.
Mostly, we took each step not in stride but in pure delight, with our AXO sisters by our side. All of us realize how fortunate we are to have shared such a fabulous time together! “My expectations for my first visit to New York City were really high. And it went far beyond my expectations.” One sister said on our final day while we were walking through a sun drenched Central Park. That remark had me thinking that perhaps I should put together that brochure, after all!
Returning home, our legs ache, blisters sting and there is catch up at work. Yes, reality bites. However, our texts reveal the admiration we have for one another. Bonded through AXO, we are life long friends. We are the ones who knew us when we barely knew ourselves, the ones worth walking thousands of steps with throughout this life long journey. No matter the paths our steps take us in our daily life, we’ll always have thousands of steps to take together because next up…Tuscany!