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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Im going to Belfast, Im going to Belfast.

After six years of pricing flights, I am finally going to Belfast. I don’t know how many times I’ve promised Hayden that I was coming to Belfast on my next vacation, but I never followed through. This time tomorrow, I will be in the middle of Belfast waiting for Hayden to get off work at 5PM. I can’t believe it–six years since I have seen Hayden.

Hayden spent my junior year in Decatur, Illinois–at Millikin on exchange from Queen’s University. Since I was an RA and Juliet was in with the Multicultural office, we were made aware of their arrival and asked to welcome them to the States. Well then, you don’t have to ask us twice. We will certainly make the two blokes from Northern Ireland comfortable in D-town. My first real memory of hanging out with Hayden and Keith, Keith is the 2nd Belfast Boy, was offering to take them to Wal-Mart at midnight. “What do you mean? Certainly all the stores are closed.” No, no, no. Welcome to America–home of 24-hour super centers.

At this time I was still driving the 1979 5-speed Toyota Corolla that my sister and I started our driving lives in when we were 16. It has started to act up a little bit, okay, a lot. Keep in mind that within a month or so, I was driving my dad’s 1976 Cadillac Hearse to college. We are heading up towards the Wal-Mart on the North Side of Decatur and my car goes silent. “No problem guys, you’ll just have to get out and push start it.” So there are Hayden and Keith, they have been in Decatur 2 days, maybe 3, and they are pushing my little car up the street in the middle of the night in Decatur. Welcome to America.

Juliet and I quickly fell for them. Okay, we both quickly fell for Keith, but that wouldn’t do. As we got to know them, I began to gravitate towards Hayden and Juliet towards Keith. They did not do any gravitating towards us though. The four of us were always doing things together–Homecoming Dance, trips to Champaign-Urbana to go dancing, turning 21–but none of us ever dated any of us. This was not for lack of plotting on the girl side of things, we were constantly lamenting the fact that we weren’t a fearless foursome, two inter-cultural couples. Surely a double wedding on the cliffs of Northern Ireland was still possible.

I know that Hayden and I had a lot of heart to hearts over the course of the year and a lot of great laughs. We were both twins and had similar values. For christmas, I emailed Duane (Hayden’s Twin) to get their mailing addy in Portadown. I sent Hayden a slim travel journal for christmas. He brought back a calendar, key ring, and change purse–all emblazoned with different treasures from Northern Ireland. I spent a lot of sunday afternoons hanging out in the Gorin Library, where Hayden and Keith had word study assignments.

Eventually the last day of school rolls around. Hayden is packing for his flight and I am preparing to leave Millikin for La Plata, Argentina. I remember going into Mills hall and being convinced that this is the time that I will spill everything, my last chance to get Hayden. Get Hayden for what? We are both leaving the country? Anyway, my plot was foiled when another of his many friends came in to say goodbye. I remember being incredibly frustrated that I was never able to be honest with him about how much I really cared… sigh. How many times has this story been written? Maybe I can get John Hughes to direct the film, what do you think?

Now it is six years later. Who knows what it will be like to see each other. I imagine it will be as if we were never apart, because that is how it felt when I saw Juliet in September. It had been years, but there are certain people who are true friends. I am pretty sure that Hayden is one and I can’t wait to see.

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