Winter Quarter had gotten off to a rough start. Ever since I had broken things off with Brian, I tried to just throw myself into my studies. That worked to a certain extent but, it didn't fill the void. Whitney, my best friend, tried cheering me up by reminding me that LSM Rush was coming. I could care less. I knew we had been waiting since the fall to join Cal Poly's Christian Fraternity, Alpha Gamma Omega, as Little Sisters but, I was just plain melancholy. The night of the first Rush event had all of our friends from the dorms buzzing. "I bet there will be some really cute guys there Nikki!" Whitney teasingly said. "It is a fraternity you know." Whatever, I'd still go but I just wanted the whole thing to be over with.
After donning my spiffiest duds, I met up with some of my other friends who were rushing and hopped into Kelly's SUV. Luckily she had a car. The rest of us had shown up at college without one. Packed in like sardines, we all raced over to the AGO House to begin the first night of LSM Rush. Much to my surprise, it was all so wonderful and my heart began to soften as I was quickly reminded of why I had wanted to join this group in the first place. The girls were all older and so nice. I could also tell immediately that they were genuine in their faith, encouraging and exactly who I wanted to surround myself with. The guys were just the same and as Whitney had predicted, they were cute too-an added bonus. I knew immediately that this is where I could land for my years at Cal Poly and feel like I was part of a family. That night I shook off my disappointment and decided, no matter what, this is where I belong. I was definitely going to rush LSM.
* * * *
Winter Quarter had just gotten busier. In between studying for my full load of classes and all of the reading they required, I was fitting in AGO Initiate duties (girls were called Initiates, not pledges). This included me having meetings, lovingly called One-on-Ones, with all twenty of the LSM girls and at least ten of the AGO guys. In the meantime, I was also taking weekly tests about AGO history, learning member names, the Greek Alphabet (which I already knew-ha!) and cataloguing all sorts of other pertinent information into my brain. Even though it was busy, I was having so much fun.
One of these nights I went over to my Big Sister's house for dinner. Stephanie had already been such a great Big Sis, buying me fun little gifts, writing me encouraging notes and just being a wonderful friend. I loved her instantly and felt so lucky that I'd been chosen for her. After dinner we decided to walk downtown since she and her roommates lived within walking distance and San Luis Obispo's famous Farmer's Market was happening that night. On our way, we stopped in at the AGO House to see if anyone wanted to go with us.
As usual, the downstairs common area was full of guys all looking for something to do. While we were rustling up a group of people, out walked our Initiate Liaison Steve, with a gallon of milk in one hand and a witty comeback to one of the guys in his other hand. I hadn't ever really noticed him before but for some reason, he really caught my attention this time. He was really funny. It took a little while for everyone to get ready to go but that was okay. Steve was being hilarious and had encapsulated the room's attention. Mine included. Once we were all ready to go, I whispered to Steph, "That's Steve Dauphin right?!" She smiled and answered, "Yeah, isn't he funny?" All I could think to respond was, "Yes! He's so animated." Little did I know at the time, that he had heard me.
On the walk downtown, he melted into the crowd just messing around and being silly. But after that night, I began to notice that funny guy a little bit more. He wasn't just another face in the sea of incredible guys. In my mind's eye, I kept seeing him with that silly grin on his face, holding the gallon of milk and for some reason, whenever I did, I couldn't keep from smiling.