Four days later I left for college, happily engaged to the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with.
I spent most of the five-hour car ride to Virginia alternating between crying about leaving The German and feeling excitement about finally moving away and starting college. My whole family came to help move me into my dorm, and the four of us arrived at our hotel the night before move in took place. The next morning, we moved our SUV filled with my belongings to the Hillside dorms and into McGraw Long Hall where I would spend my Freshman year. My roommate had somehow managed to move her things in the night before, so once I was unpacked our room was officially set up. At my farewell lunch with my family, I finally broke the news that I would not be coming home for Thanksgiving, instead I’d already bought a plane ticket to fly out to Wisconsin to spend the holiday with The German and his family. They did not take the news well, and our goodbyes were not on a good note, instead with my mom and sister crying in the car as they drove away. It never occurred to me that not coming home for Thanksgiving would be such a huge deal, Christmas break was only two weeks later and I would be home for a month then. Either way, my decision was already made and plans were set.
Those first few days at JMU, I met the four girls who were to become my four best friends in life. There was Meghan, my roommate, Dani, who lived across the hall, and Adrienne and Megan, who were roommates and lived two doors down. Megan and Meghan went to high school together, were already best friends, and their bond brought the five of us together. Within the first week we realized we were all Irish Catholic girls with a love of all the same things, and were inseparable from that moment on. Time passed quickly, and before I knew it my “fall break” was approaching which meant my first visit out to Wisconsin to see The German. Fall break was really only one Friday off, but I figured this long weekend was the perfect opportunity to go visit since it had been two months since we’d last seen each other.
Being engaged in college was interesting. It was my ice breaker in class when we had to go around and say something interesting about ourselves, and I quickly became known as the engaged girl among a few different groups of friends. It didn’t bother me though, I was confident in my relationship and never once though we wouldn’t make it until our wedding after we graduated. That was the plan, graduate from college and then get married. At this point, I still wasn’t a big drinker or party goer. The German didn’t like it when I drank, so I didn’t go out very much and when I did I tried to downplay it to him on the phone. I would drink maybe three beers (which used to be enough to get me very drunk) and then go home hours before my friends. I wasn’t enjoying college nearly as much as I should have.
I spent a long weekend in October out in Wisconsin, then went out there again for Thanksgiving. I met The German’s college friends, and the family that lived out there and told them all of our plans to get married. Things were going really well, and we didn’t experience the typical first semester break-up that was so common among relationships trying to transition from high school to college. We both came home for winter break and spent three weeks together, enjoying the time we had before spring semester stared and kept us apart.
Spring semester was when things started to fall apart. While I was still accommodating to the fact that The German didn’t want me out drinking and partying, he was not extending the same courtesy. My calls would go unanswered, or would be answered but all I would hear were screams into the Playstation headset while he was playing Halo. He was drinking, and partying, and not understanding what a hypocrite he was being. I would get screamed at for missing a phone call when sometimes he wouldn’t call me back for days. I was starting to reach my breaking point. I began hanging out with my girlfriends at school more, going out more, and enjoying college more.
The German and I did not have the same spring breaks, so during his he made the drive from Wisconsin to JMU and stayed with me for the week. It had the potential to be a great week together, but instead all we did was fight. We would go out to have fun, but then get into an argument about something stupid, like how many guy friends I had. One fight was so brutal it actually sent Dani and Meghan running down the hallway to avoid being stuck in the middle of it. At the end of the week it became clear that he was becoming someone I didn’t like, and I was becoming someone with my own opinions.
As is typical with most relationships, when we returned home for summer The German and I fell back into our pre-college routine. Working during the days, hanging out at night, all the arguments spurred by distance forgotten. We went to two weddings together that summer, one ending with a broken lamp and a fight so bad hotel security came inquiring at our door. When August rolled around, I couldn’t wait to get back to school to my friends and brand new apartment off campus.
I moved in that fall with three roommates, two girls and one boy, oh and my cat Pumpkin. Yup, she finished my last three years of college with me! I was much more adventurous that year, and tired of feeling like I was controlled by the ring on my finger. My friends were also beginning to see the unhealthy things about my relationship, and secretly hoped I would end things and move on. I can still remember their reactions one weekday morning when we were all walking through the parking lot together and I asked if anyone wanted to drink that night. Every one of them stopped dead in their tracks and looked at me in shock, I guess that was when I started to really become the Kelly everyone now knows so well.
It was from that point on that I began to live my life how I wanted, without any concern as to what might piss The German off, and I did piss him off a lot. I just knew I didn’t want to look back at my four years of college and regret not living life, and if he couldn’t still love me as I grew and changed, well then he didn’t really love me for me. Him and I both knew that the relationship was reaching its breaking point, and my trip out to Wisconsin for spring break pretty much served as a final goodbye, not a visit. We enjoyed our last week together as a couple to the fullest, going out to dinners, shopping, even getting our tongues pierced together haha, but when I left that Sunday to return to JMU we were no longer engaged, and no longer even dating. We had an amicable goodbye though, and I knew we would be able to remain close friends.
After spring break, I started dating my guy roommate and we were together until the week Junior year started so I didn’t see The German really at all when I was home for summer break. After the roommate and I broke up, it once again became easy to fall back into old habits. The German and I started talking again, hung out during winter break, and it started to feel like a relationship again. He had finally realized how unfairly he treated me for a long time, and was trying to make up for it. Unfortunately I was still harboring feelings for the roommate and it was too little too late for me.
That summer of 2006, my family had rented a house down the shore during the week of my 21st birthday and I asked The German to come with us on vacation. Even though we weren’t officially together, he agreed and we celebrated me becoming legal with four of my college friends who made the trip to the beach for my birthday. We had a lot of fun celebrating together, until the first “happy birthday” phone call came in and it was from the roommate. That stirred up old feelings for me, and jealousy for him and it wasn’t long after that when our relationship ended for good.
A few weeks after returning from the beach, the roommate made a surprise visit to my town and I completely blew off and lied to The German about it. He knew what was up though, and by the time I got to his house that night his car was completely packed up and he was ready to drive back to Wisconsin, two weeks earlier than planned. I was an asshole and a jerk and he wasn’t going to put up with it, so with me standing in the middle of the street crying asking him not to go, he drove away leaving me there alone. And that was the last time I saw him.
Our five-year relationship ended with a tearful and apology filled goodbye in the middle of the street, and we didn’t talk for a long time after that. Eventually though, we both realized we’d just been dragging on the inevitable and were able to talk to each other about the new people in our lives. I listened to his relationship drama and offered advice, and he offered to beat the crap out of any douche bag that broke up with me and explain to them that they’d never find better. Even now, 10 years after we first met, we can still exchange phone calls and talk to each other as friends, and it almost doesn’t seem like we haven’t seen each other in three years. If he ever comes home again, I have every intention of seeing him and catching up on what’s been going on in both our lives.
*Update, obviously things went very well when he came home in December 2010 for Christmas. We rekindled our relationship, and are in the process of planning a move that will allow us to live together in the same state!*