Long Story Short: Tis about the journey

This story starts long before I come in.
This is a story about two college students. Both undergraduate theater majors at Northwestern University near Chicago.
They met at a Halloween party in Willard Residential Hall (named after Frances Willard, “one of the temperance movement chicks,” according to my friend.)
At any rate, they were both sophomores. He had just transferred to Northwestern from a small liberal arts school in Virginia.
“Was it love at first sight or what?” I asked.
“It was love at first sight for me,” she said.
The pair hung out most of the time for the next three semesters.
“I invited him to have dinner with me at whatever the fancy restaurant was in the Hancock Tower on my 21st birthday,” she said. “I remember a time we were headed to Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, Il. He decided to stick his head out the window and lost his glasses. The soundtrack playing in the car was Paul Simon’s Graceland.”
She paused.
“It had a line, ‘Weren’t you the woman who received the Fulbright?’ ”
And I knew why, all these years later, she remembered that line so clearly.
“Because, you know, I did many years later,” she said.
However, like the rest of us, neither of them had any notion of the course life would take in the years to come.
She and I met in the winter before she got the Fulbright. We were standing at a ticket counter at Washington National Airport. She was organized and clearly well-traveled.
I was not.
Even still, we both ended up headed to teach English in Slovakia shortly after Communism ended. We became great friends. When our Eastern European teaching gigs were up, she left to accept her Fulbright in Korea.
I came back to the States, to the real world, and got married.
Until three years ago, my friend took one such journey after another. She has literally seen the world.
Her urge to go places got in the way of her relationship went with the fellow back in college. About 18 months after they first met, she left Northwestern for a semester in England. He gave her a going-away present — a book called, “Fold the Banana and 146 other things to do when you’re bored.”
His inscription: “The English winters can be long and dull. Here’s some relief. Lots of love from someone you’ve known only a short time. Until the fall of 1985. Love, Stephen.”
Mutual friends say Stephen moped around the whole semester she was gone. But by the fall of 1985 and her return, they first saw each other at a citywide tag sale he was with another woman. Things were never the same for them after that. They continued to be friends, but something had shifted. College ended. Eventually, he got married. They lost touch.
Years later, he reappeared on her radar on television. Yours too perhaps. If you’ve been paying attention, you may have seen him recently in the news.
He’s Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report.
This weekend, he co-hosted a sizable rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. By the time you read this, you’ll know how the so-called Million Moderate March went down.
Also know that my friend and I will be there with the goal of re-connecting her to her old friend. Yes, he’ll have his hands full. Why would we try to re-connect with him now? Because it’s fun. We realize our mission is great — and that the chances of succeeding in connecting with him are slim. But we’ll have fun in the journey.
And isn’t the journey what life is all about?

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