why i flew home in october
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
When I was a sophomore in college, I took a German class just for fun. One could say that that class determined the course of my future; not only did it inspire me to study abroad just one year later (which changed my life), but it allowed me to meet someone very special (who also changed my life). On the first day of that class, I sat near a cute little blonde girl with the prettiest messy-in-a-good-way side bun. Over the course of that first week in class, I couldn’t help but marvel over the cute little blonde girl’s appearance every day. Her ability to accessorize from head to toe without being too over-the-top really impressed me. She had some pretty impeccable layering skills, too – her colorful cardigans or scarves always added the perfect touch to each outfit. During that first week, I think we spoke a few times at most. As the semester progressed, however, we began to bump into each other here, there and everywhere, it seemed. I’d see her at the library, we’d run into each other at our favorite coffee shop, we even realized we went to the same church. Our paths continued to cross until before we knew it, not only were we study partners but we were great friends.
Now, years later, I still consider that cute, little blonde girl (who goes by the name of Jenny) to be one of my dearest, closest friends. Due to a break I had from work (month-long breaks from school are common in Germany – lucky for me!), I was able to fly home a few weeks ago to be a part of Jenny’s wedding. Since I’ve been living abroad for awhile, I a) hadn’t gotten to spend a lot of time with Jenny in far too long and b) hadn’t ever met her fiancée, Eric. At their rehearsal dinner, I noticed that Jenny looked different to me – I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what had changed but there was just something about her that struck me as new. ‘Is she just exhausted from the wedding planning? Overwhelmed by all that is still yet to be done?’. I contemplated all these things and more as I sat through the emotional speeches at dinner.
And as is the case with most rehearsal dinners, the slideshows, songs and toasts induced within me a series of flashbacks and I thought about me and Jenny and how much time had passed since she was just that cute little blonde girl whose ability to accessorize and layer had caught my attention. I thought about what we’d been through together over these past few years and how I’d seen many sides of her. I’d seen her in moments of intense focus as we studied together for German exams, presentations, etc. When we traveled Europe together, I saw her in moments of utter confusion and severe exhaustion (sharing an overnight train compartment with a crazy, drunk Italian man will bring that out of you). I’d witnessed her hilarious, loopy side as well (sleepovers with her and her sisters almost always resulted in delirium). And I’d seen her exhibit admirable independence and bold determination – most memorably when she decided to move to DC 2 years ago to pursue her dream of working on Capital Hill (where she eventually met the aforementioned Eric).
And then it hit me – during all this time I’d known Jenny, she’d never dated anyone. I’d never seen her with a boyfriend, I’d never seen her in love. That’s when it all clicked. The new look in her eyes, the smile that seemed slightly foreign to me – this was Jenny in love! And I think that Jenny in love is my favorite side of her yet.