Position: Print Co-Head Copy Editor
College: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
I used to think love was something of a fairytale. That it only existed in Nicholas Sparks books. Shakespearean sonnets. Movies with Channing Tatum.
And because of this belief I fell into the trap, as most teenage boys do, and became that anti-relationship advocate, shunning my bros when they got girlfriends and trying to ignore all eyelashes batted in my general direction.
That was the case, up until I found her.
First love is a messy, complicated and astonishing experience that we all encounter only once in our lives. It may come to shape the people we end up dating down the road, what kind of songs make our hearts sing and what places around town we never visit anymore because of memories there.
When I found her, she made every laugh sweeter, every smile more sincere and every new encounter more fulfilling.
We met second semester freshman year. She was in my seventh hour class. I longed for her every day. Learning more about her. Finding out her “do’s” and “don’ts.” I finally gobbled up enough courage to ask her out first semester sophomore year.
The beginning of our relationship was strictly online. She let me express my opinions freely through a keyboard and clicking “post,” but after a while, I desired more from her, and we became more serious.
She grabbed my hand and led me to a story about a sophomore whose father passed away from a brain aneurysm while on a business trip in Houston, Texas. She showed me how the sophomore class was stricken to its core, dedicating wrist bands and basketball games to him. She cried with me as a few sophomores duct-taped a banner with his name above the bleachers, during the sophomore basketball game against Rockhurst.
From there, we became inseparable.
She gave me the courage to tell East my story: about how I almost took my own life in middle school. She assured me every night before I fell asleep that it was the right thing to do, and stood by me as I walked through the hallways the day my story was published — as people shook my hand, hugged me and thanked me for writing it.
She took me around the country. Anaheim. Seattle. Dallas. Pointing out each landmark to me as we went by and then sitting me down and telling me stories that would make me laugh until my sides ached or ponder what I was doing with my life.
She showed me a senior year full of incredible ups and downs. She cringed with me as we watched the head football coach, fresh off of chemo, chest-press his weight with cancer in his lymph nodes. She drove me to the senior lineman’s house as he shaved the running back and left tackle’s heads, in honor of their coach.
She walked with me to the funeral of one of my best friend’s mothers. Gave me a tissue while I sobbed at her passing, and again gave me enough courage to let the school into my most inner thoughts and experiences with her.
She sat with me on the floor of a 97-year-old World War II veteran’s old, beaten down home as he told us about how he had to walk carefully on Omaha Beach, because the mines were still active 30 days after D-Day. Rain pattered on the roof as he shook his head in disbelief thinking back on what he saw German soldiers do to French prisoners.
She watched in awe with me as we heard a former student, Maddie Cardell, tell us about her two parents, both of whom died within the span of six months and two days of each other. She sat with me in my car after talking to her, shocked that Maddie was willing to talk about it, and inspired by how well she was coping.
My first love was unlike yours, I’m sure. My first love was with The Harbinger. I don’t care if you roll your eyes, call it cheesy, unrealistic or phony — that doesn’t make it any less true.
But like all first loves, it must come to an end.
I’m moving off to Lincoln, Nebraska next year for college. Two hundred-and-one miles away from everything I’ve ever known or loved — including The Harbinger.
But she will always stay with me.
Every venture from one room to the other just to see what Kat Buchanan and Grant Kendall are joking about. Every deadline dinner I’ve eaten with Kennedy Burgess. Every story I’ve given Vanessa Daves to read and her priceless reactions afterward. Every God-awful note sung with Jack Howland and Will Webber to “My Heart Will Go On” or “Lips of an Angel.” Every thing will hold a special, immovable place in my heart.
Turns out, some fairytales are true.