I only applied to one college. When I visited the Calvin campus, I felt something in my heart telling me that's where I belonged. I haven't always felt that same tug during my time there. I'm a very liberal person, and Calvin is Christian Reformed through and through. However, I am grateful for my time there because it has allowed me to meet some of the greatest people I have ever known.
During the spring of my junior year, I studied abroad in York, England. A group of 15 students from Calvin went on the trip, including me, Abby and Cameron. Cameron. Where would I be without him?
Cameron and I clicked immediately. From the moment we had our first, real conversation, I knew there was something about him. I had to have him. I had just gotten out of a really bad relationship before leaving on my trip, and I was hesitant to start something new. I had my heart broken, recovering from being cheated on, and I wasn't sure how to trust him. We were spending all of our time together, and he hadn't done so much as initiate a hug. But it was there. I knew he felt the same. When he looked at me, he really saw me. He didn't look at me as though he was noticing what was missing, he saw the good things that were already there.
One night in the kitchen of my flat in York, Cameron and I were drinking cocktails and playing cards. I admitted my feelings, mostly due to the liquid courage, I'm sure. He confessed he felt the same. We agreed to return home just as friends, on the off chance that the feelings we had for one another were just due to the five month adventure we were sharing. Once we returned home in May, it took me a long time to agree to date him. It took me even longer to kiss him. But after that first kiss in December, I was in love. We haven't been apart since. In fact, we moved into a crappy apartment together and had plans to get engaged once we graduated this coming May, just four months from now. Our only issue right now is my relationship with Abby.
Oh, Abby. Cameron is logical, I'm emotional. He sees my relationship with Abby and the answer is clear to him: just leave.
"Kaylee, look at what she's doing to you." He said to me one night after Abby had insult-complimented my dress. We were all hanging out at a burger place, and I had decided to dress up a little. I always did before hanging out with Abby.
"Kay!" She had squealed when she saw me. "It's so great you can wear that dress despite your figure. You look amazing."
I cried when Cam and I got back to the apartment, and I didn't eat for two days after that. It's not that I'm fat. It's that I'm half-italian and I have wide hips and big ass. Cam loves every part of me, and I love him for that. But at five foot three, if I gain even a pound, it's pretty obvious. It's not like there's much of a place for it to go. It's something I've dealt with and hated my entire life.
I know Cam has a point, but when I think about leaving, I think of when it all began.
I was 17 and nervous as hell to go to college. Grand Rapids was only 40 minutes from my hometown of Muskegon, but to me, not knowing who or what I would encounter at school? It might as well have been across the country. I moved in a week before Abby, I chose the latest orientation slot so that I'd have time to adjust to our room before she moved in.
When she arrived all five foot two, 105 pounds of her, I was in awe. How could such a tiny person cause such a whirlwhind? Abby was loud, bubbly, silly and beautiful. I was jealous from the moment we met. In hindsight, I don't know what there was to be jealous about. We both had enviable brown hair and big brown eyes. We were both short, but not too short. Just short enough that most people found a reason to comment on it and call us adorable. The only difference was that I was noticeably larger, and I sure noticed. A lot.
Our first night together, we bared our souls. We both had body image issues, we both struggled with cutting. We both loved Disney movies and laughing about the most ridiculous things. My whole life I had searched for a person like this, my soul sister, and here she was in my room for the next 9 months!
For the first few months of college, we did everything together. I had always been an outgoing person, but not like her. She was a theater major, I wanted to be a high school english teacher. I was too insecure to step outside of my comfort zone. I had Abby and my boyfriend at the time, Tom, what more did I need? She quickly made friends in the theater group, and by extension, they became my friends as well. I was truly happy, but it didn't last.
Fall turned into Winter, and Abby changed. Her boyfriend dumped her and she spiraled into this terrible, seemingly endless pit of…despair. I missed classes, held her while she cried, got her out of the room, forced her to eat, hid all the sharp objects, did anything and everything to try to bring her back. When her ex started dating someone new, she became so depressed that her parents hospitalized her for her own protection.
"I'm doing better." She had told me when I went to visit her at the hospital.
"That's so good to hear." I said, and I meant it. I cried for four hours when her mom facebooked me that Abby had been committed. "I was so worried."
"I know. You're such a good friend. The best. I want to be happy. I'm going to try." She hugged me, and I felt sure that my friend was back.
It seemed to work just in time for Tom to dump me. I was miserable. Tom was the first and only person I had ever had sex with, let alone kissed. Abby tried to be there for me, but her support fell flat. She's much more conservative than I am, and her sympathy felt more like judgement. Kind of like, "I'm sorry you're hurting, but I told you so."
While she never said it in those exact words - at least not then - it certainly felt like it, and that was the beginning of our end. Of course, I didn't know that then.
I recovered just in time to go to York and I met Cameron and my heart felt almost normal again. Then something changed. I grew, I guess. I wanted to become something more than just that scared girl that tried so hard to be like Abby.
Abby met an English guy while we were in England, and she fell hard for him. She did things with him that she had previously judged me for, and when we left she fell apart again. He moved on from her, and it took her a long time to get over him. To be honest, I think she's been looking for him in all the guys since - and there have been a few. Ever since we returned over a year ago, she's been on a roller coaster of emotion and self-loathing, and in that process she stopped caring for anyone else.
The only time she really talked to me after any of that was to talk about herself, update me on her dating life, ask for advice when she was sad. Of course, if the advice felt too much like the truth or made her question her role in her problems, she stopped responding. Our friendship became about texting and meaningless conversation. She never made an effort to see me in person. In her defense, neither did I. Not really.
"So I have a date with this tinder guy tomorrow. I don't know how to feel about it." She'd texted me.
"Are you ready for that?" I asked, remembering how just a few months before she was crying about the guy in England's new girlfriend.
And it has gone on like that for the past year. Me, trying desperately to be her friend, and her, not letting me.
The problem is, I remember the girl I used to have fun with, the girl I clicked so instantly with. I missed her. I believed she could come back. Is it possible? How long do you have to wait?