My first year at Northwestern, I lived on the first floor of Jones Fine and Performing Arts Residential college. Within the first few weeks, many of the fourteen of us living on that floor had become nearly inseparable. Because we were a floor family, we had dubbed ourselves the “Flamily,” relishing its somewhat uncomfortable sound. We ate many meals together in Hinman dining hall, accidentally stayed up until sunrise, watched the entire series Sherlock on Netflix, decorated our suite for the holidays, kept a running list of Flamily quotes, and so much more. My first floor Jones Flamily was definitely my most meaningful community during my first year at Northwestern. They were the friends that I turned to when I was struggling with school or sickness or just big life decisions. I can’t imagine how different my entire college experience would have been without the Flamily.

While the Flamily was certainly one of the most important communities to me during my transition to Northwestern, it is far from the only community that has helped to define my time here. I have a network of support at Northwestern through friends that I know from many different contexts, from my a cappella group to the Peer Advisers to Dance Marathon. But as I make more connections and as these groups change and evolve, community circles have multiplied and expanded and overlapped. Sometimes I laugh with friends about how we can’t even remember how we came to know each other. And most friends that I know from one context have connections to me in another context as well, so my Northwestern community is constantly growing and folding over itself. This complicated web of connection is my safety net at Northwestern; these are the people that catch me when I fall and talk to me when I need a friend. My Northwestern community is composed of a unique collection of connections that is as improbable as it is was inevitable. It is like no one else’s.

Pam, one of the other Flamily members, is one of my roommates during my senior year. Annalissa and I plan coffee dates as often as we can, Alfredo and I see each other at least twice a week in acting class, and I do my best to make it to all of Taylor’s recitals during the year. The whole Flamily isn’t together as often anymore, but we still organize (or at least attempt to organize) Flamily reunions when we can. We reminisce and catch up whenever we see each other around campus, and I know who to call if I want to grab a snack and chat with a friend. My support base has grown exponentially since my first year in Jones Residential College, but my first floor Flamily will forever be an integral part of my community collection.

–Clayton Shuttleworth

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