At long last, I finally got it.

Because it was a world not open to me, never available, I brushed off its value. I thought all the rituals surrounding it were silly, childish, and seriously overrated. I couldn’t understand why people would travel, sometimes long distances, to recreate, to keep a toe in those waters, to go back.

But now I get it.

We just spent two and half days with three of my husband’s fraternity brothers and the distaff members of their families.

I watched as their somewhat “mature” faces relaxed and dissolved into laughter. The day’s concerns and issues faded away.

Hair actually seemed to grow on balding heads. Worry lines disappeared, replaced by the fun and joy of remembering and recalling.

They forgot their secret handshake, but the lawyer in the group rallied his sharp mind and it all came back.

Stories that have been told many times were told again. Many have surely been embellished with time. That made them all the more enjoyable and appreciated. Far away, long-distant brothers were called and brought up to date.

Together, we all laughed so hard and talked so loud we either irritated or engaged those sitting near us. At one dinner, a gentleman next to us Googled the school’s song and serenaded us on his way out. Waitresses benefited from our wine-induced largess. The owner of another restaurant sent free shots of tequila to the table.

We briefly waded into the political waters but decided, wisely, not to stay there too long. Our mission was not to solve the world’s problems but to try to laugh them into perspective.

Once upon a time, I would have shrugged my shoulders at all that and basically said, “So what?”

But now, you see, I understand. I get it. I appreciate the value of those bonds – those fraternal bonds. I wish I’d understood them earlier, but late is better than never.

And I won’t be likely to forget them anytime soon.

Sallie Collins enjoys living on the banks of the May River and writes about it in her blog,, from which this article is taken.