It was a seasonably pleasant November afternoon on campus. At 17, I fancied myself a photographer and always made a point to keep my camera on my person just in case the perfect shot would line up for me. Even when I didn’t quite have the “perfect” shot, campus during the Fall semester always had flowers everywhere for me to photograph while waiting for my afternoon classes to start. It was while I kneeled on the sidewalk, at the intersection that trailed in each direction toward the Chapel, Old Main, or Student Union, that a young man in a leather duster stopped in his rush to get to his next class to talk to me.
Having been a commuter student taking only one class on campus that semester, I wasn’t used to having anybody stop to talk to me. I was further confused by the casually outgoing nature of this guy, who was talking to me like I was somebody he knew, being a quiet-natured person myself. He told me about the famous Tulip Festival, an annual event in Pella near where he was from. I barely got two words out before he dashed off, late to his 1 o’clock class – I didn’t even know his name.
The next time I saw him, he was sitting in the Tiger Den — it was a spot on campus that I frequented as the Howe was a good landmark location for my mom to pick me up from at the end of the day. As I unloaded my laptop and set up at one of the high-top tables, he turned to me and asked if I would watch his things while he went to get a drink. I silently agreed.
When he returned, he started talking to me about how busy Wesley’s Diner was before asking what I was working on. I showed him a picture of a spider that I had taken over the summer. We added each other on Facebook, complete with the lie that we would connect sometime before he packed up his things to leave. We didn’t talk again that semester.
During the Spring ‘16 semester, I intended on getting more involved with campus. I was freshly 18, armed with my camera, hair dye, a newly acquired driver’s license, and a desire to become more extroverted (spoiler alert, that’s not how extroversion works). I bumped into the strange boy, Eli, from the fall a few times, we exchanged pleasantries but rarely had much to say until he invited me to join the Lions’ Club chapter that he was starting on campus; I joined.
In February, I attended a Valentine’s dance in the Tiger Den; a small part of me hoped to bump into Eli there. Instead, I became acquainted with a friend-of-a-friend, and we started dating (spoiler alert, it only lasted a month). I would join him for lunches in Wesley’s Diner; when Eli saw me, he would join us. It was clear that both guys were jealous of each other, this was also when it became apparent that Eli liked me.
Shortly after Eli learned about the breakup, he invited me to go with him and his roommate to see “Batman vs. Superman” in theaters; I agreed. Eli’s roommate skipped out immediately after the movie, leaving Eli and me alone to talk about the movie in the Subway on the square. We hung out several times after that, but it wasn’t until a few days later (and a whole bag of Hershey’s Kisses) that he caught on about me liking him too. On March 29, 2016, in the basement of McKibbin, he finally asked me to be his girlfriend. We got married on Halloween 2019, and have been together ever since.
– Kendra Hefner ‘18 & Elijah Westercamp ‘19