At the beginning of my freshman year of college, I had quite a few friends. I was dating a senior, so most of my friendships were built in before I moved into the dorm. Itís always a good idea to pick your own friends. If I had realized that then, I might have graduated from college with more than three of them.
As you can imagine, those freshman friendships fell by the wayside pretty quickly. They were my friends because of my ex-boyfriend. They werenít friends with me because they liked me. They werenít friends with me at all.
Going into my sophomore year, I felt alone almost all the time. My ex-boyfriend became increasingly abusive and would tell his friends I was abusive. It didnít take long for them to ostracize me the way he wanted. I had made a few friends of my own, but they were associated with my ex-boyfriendís fraternity and soon wanted nothing to do with me.
More than anything else, that broke me. Iíd see these people I used to consider friends talking and laughing together on the quad, and I knew I didnít have that anymore. I didnít have a group. I didnít feel I could trust anybody. That lasted until my ex-boyfriend and I broke up during the first semester of my senior year, when I broke free and started connecting with people the way I hoped I would my freshman year.
One of the first people I started spending time with was Kelby, a fellow English major who didnít mind when I talked about how Lost is the best television show ever made. He was there for me the week I finally broke up with my ex-boyfriend, when I was the kind of mess you donít clean up immediately because itís just too much of a hassle. He hung around anyway. He didnít make me feel like I was broken the way everybody else had.
For the rest of the year, we spent much of our free time together. We formed our own little group with a few other friends. One day, when we were eating dinner at Popeyeís and ranting about our classes, it struck me that Iíd found a group. It was a small group, but it was there and it helped me feel supported.
Kelby was a big part of that group. Over the past three years, heís become a big part of my life. He graduated from college a year after I did and started working at Carroll County News two years after that. He has become my husbandís close friend, even serving in the bridal party at our wedding earlier this year. The three of us spend tons of time together, and itís a very natural dynamic when we do.
If you see me on the weekend, youíll certainly see Kelby, too. We have many adventures together, including day trips to Bentonville to eat sushi and long hikes at Lake Leatherwood City Park. Our most recent adventure took place this past weekend. We went to Six Flags in St. Louis to celebrate Kelbyís upcoming birthday, and it was tons of fun.
That was my birthday gift to Kelby, but it doesnít seem like itís enough. When somebody comes into your life and makes you feel valued at your lowest point, thereís no way to properly thank them. This year, I tried to do that with roller coasters and honey chipotle chicken crispers at Chiliís. Thatís true friendship to me.
For those of you who have a friendship like this, I hope you express it as often as you can. Let people know when theyíve changed your life for the better. Kelby has certainly done that for me, and Iím proud to say so.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.