NU Declassified: Students tackle summer breakups and long-distance dating in Let’s Talk Love

Ilana Arougheti, Dan Hu, and Divitya Vakil

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Divitya Vakil: Welcome to NU Declassified, a look into how Wildcats thrive and survive on Northwestern’s campus. For many students, coming to campus means breaking up with a significant other. Other times, it can be hard to stay in touch with a partner who now lives multiple states away.

Dan Hu: So this is why we’re debuting a new recurring segment called “Let’s Talk Love,” where we hear your stories about honeymoon phases and heartbreak, friends and family, barriers broken and bridges built. To tell your love story, hop on bit.ly/nulovepodcast.

Dan Hu: Act One– the day that was supposed to be about her– until it wasn’t. Here’s Kiki.

Kikue Higuchi: My name is Kikue Chelsea Higuchi. I guess I prefer Kiki. And Kikue is fine too, it’s just, like, my dad calls me Kikue when he’s mad at me, so I usually tell people to call me Kiki.

Kikue Higuchi: I had a really tough time when I was younger defining what love was, ‘cause I had never really seen it. My parents separated when I was about three years old. And my dad never dated, he was really focused on me, so I never saw him in a relationship. And the relationships my mom were in were not the healthiest of relationships, so I didn’t get to really see what love looked like.

Dan Hu: How did you meet your boyfriend, and what was the relationship like at first?

Kikue Higuchi: I met him in my AP Bio class, we had it sixth period together. I was in his lab group, and there were two other juniors that I knew. One junior I knew and had a class with, and this kid f*****g sucked. I saw him in my group and I was like, ‘aw crap’ and I looked over and there was a junior girl next to me and I was like “aw crap!” and I looked over diagonally, which is where he sat, and I was like, ‘he’s not a frickin junior, god damn it!’ So I went over to my friend, and I was like, ‘Do you know any of the kids in my lab group?’ She was like, “Well, I know that one kid that we both hate,” and I was like, ‘Aghh, what about the girl?” She was like, ‘I dunno.’ and I was like, ‘What about that kid?’ She was like, ‘You mean Jeffrey? He’s in our grade, you know that, right?’ And I was like, ‘…No.’

Kikue Higuchi: We had An AP Literature study group, and I invited him to it … But the thing is, it was, like, all my friends, and no one knew who the f**k he was. The first time he came to study group, he was like – he, like left early, and my friend turned to me and said “You like him.” I was like, “No, I don’t” and she was like, “Yeah you do.” I was like, “N-yeah I do.”

Kikue Higuchi: On one of our study dates, he asked me out to winter formal. I had a late night and my hands were shaking. He was like “Ah, my hands only shake when I’m nervous.” He stuck his hands out, and they were tremoring. Later when I was about to leave, he said “Hey are you going to Winter Ball?” I said “Yeah yeah, I probably won’t have a date but I’ll go.” “Oh, you wanna go with me?” He was part of our leadership class, and I was like, “Oh aren’t you already going, ‘cause you’re part of leadership?” I don’t know what I thought. It was really dumb. And he was like, “Well yeah I’m already going, do you wanna go with me?”, and I was like, “Wait, yeah, I do!”

Dan Hu: After the ball, Kiki and Jeffrey’s relationship really took off. He bonded with her friends, and she met with his parents. And then came the day when Kiki realized she loved him.
Kikue Higuchi: So basically, this one day, it was around March, it was the day that I got in Northwestern. That moment, I was so happy. I ran outside my classroom [sfx: door opening, running footsteps] and ran around the building– just did laps around the building because I was so happy. Because it was my dream school, and I couldn’t believe that I got into it.

Kikue Higuchi: I had just gotten in, and we were gonna go, like, celebrate, but there was a couple more acceptances that had come out, so I was like, “Let’s just go back to my house, hang out, and we can all check it together.” He had five or six to look at. I looked over at my boyfriend and… and he had gotten rejected from every single college that he had looked at that day.

Kikue Higuchi: I knew UCSD (University of California San Diego) was a school that he had really, really wanted to go to– I had gotten in, and he had gotten rejected. I felt really guilty, which is not something I should have felt– but I still did. It was the happiest day of my life; I had just gotten into my dream school, and I f*****g burst into tears. I started crying. In my head I was like, “Why won’t these schools accept him? He’s great, he’s the best–” I mean, I’m biased, ‘cause he’s my boyfriend. I realized I loved him because in that moment, it didn’t matter what had happened to me. It only mattered what had happened to him. I could see it in his face that he was really really sad, but he’s one of those guys that’s like, “I’m not gonna cry.” He had said that to me one time, I don’t cry. I haven’t cried in like three years.” I was like, “Ok buddy.”

So it was supposed to be my celebration day, cause I had gotten in, but then after, like, seeing that happen, I was like, “Ok so we’re not gonna go to dinner, we’ll just hang out here and I’m gonna hold you.”

At that time he couldn’t drive cause he’s not cool but I could drive, so I was like, “Okay, we’ll go somewhere and get gourmet ice cream.” And there’s this place that’s about 30, 45 minutes away from where I live where everybody goes to get really good ice cream–I mean, the ice cream– it was just ice cream, you know? But like, I felt making that effort to go somewhere special would help him? Also when I was little and I was upset, my dad would take me down this very specific road and drive me around, to just calm me down. To get to the ice cream place we had to go down that road.

Dan Hu: What did the ice cream taste like?

Kikue Higuchi: I don’t remember what flavor I got. The entire time we were eating ice cream, I was talking to him, and doing, like, stupid s**t to try and make him laugh. I told a bunch of stupid stupid dirty jokes that my dad told me growing up. My dad told me a lot of dirty jokes. He thinks it’s really funny when I make a mess, so I was purposely eating messily, to make him laugh.

Kikue Higuchi: I guess that’s what love is to me– being able to put that person before yourself, even when you’re having the best day. If they’re having a bad day, you have to be able to set yourself aside.

Dan Hu: So how did that day change how you acted?

Kikue Higuchi: I think after that I asked him “So, what’s gonna happen when we go to college?” He asks the question back: “So, what do you think?” I told him I was willing to make it work, but if he didn’t want to I understood. He said “oh yeah me too” and I was like, “Hm, why didn’t you just say that?”

Dan Hu: And so Kiki and Jeffrey moved into a new phase, taking their relationship long-distance. At the end of the summer, Kiki came to Northwestern, and Jeffrey went off to Purdue. The pair talk or text every day, and are fortunately close enough to visit each other by train or bus.

Kikue Higuchi: He came to visit last weekend. Long distance is tragic. It is really difficult. It was better when I was horny and lonely, now I’m just lonely. If you were horny, it’s like, ‘Ahh, I can focus on how horny I am, and I’ll never realize how lonely I am!’ It’s a lot of longing. But it’s definitely worth it. You’re really sad but when you see them you’re violently happy, it doesn’t matter how sad you were.

Dan Hu: When you saw him last week, what did that feel like?

Kikue Higuchi: It was so nice. I’ve never felt so comfortable and so relieved to see a person. He has a very specific way of walking… I could see how he was walking and I was like “that’s my Jeffrey.” We didn’t really say anything, we just hugged for a really long time.

Dan Hu: Thanks so much, Kiki, for sharing your story. Up next, we spoke with Natalia, who unlike Kiki, decided to break off her relationship before college, three days before her boyfriend left for college to be exact. Now, she’s still wondering if it was the right choice.

Dan Hu: Act two– Three months, two friend groups, one almost-awkward bonfire. Here’s Natalia on her summer romance.

Natalia Camino: My name is Natalia, and I’m from Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Natalia Camino: Me and my boyfriend, we went to middle school together, and high school, but our friend groups, they never really hung out until senior year.

Dan Hu: Why did the friend groups mesh together this year?

Natalia Camino: We would play this game. It’s called Kidnap. Like, my friend group needed more players, so one of them invited his friend group, and that’s kind of how we started hanging out. Those were our first interactions as friends. A couple of my friends liked him too. I guess them talking about him that much made me realize that I liked him, too. And so I guess it rubbed off on me in a way. I guess eventually I started having feelings for him.

Dan Hu: So then, when did you guys start dating?

Natalia Camino: Late June. It’s really hard to read his feelings, and so that’s why I never made a move. But I guess eventually he just asked me out. At the beginning we were both like, ‘We’re probably going to break up at the end of the summer.’

Dan Hu: You said you guys talked about it, and, like, you were probably going to break up by the end of the summer. What was that conversation like?

Natalia Camino: He doesn’t express his feelings a lot, so it was like, ‘Oh, we’re probably going to break up.’ And he was like, ‘yeah.’ And then he just changed the conversation. I guess we didn’t really want to deal with it at that time. We kind of just ignored it. We actually didn’t decide to break up, like, fully decide to break up, until, three days before he left for college.

Dan Hu: Bring me to that day.

Natalia Camino: We were driving around. We both knew we had to talk about it, since we were going to- like he was leaving for college, obviously, and so we kind of just brought it up, and we kind of talked about it a little bit. I was like, ‘What do you want to do?’ I guess we’re both kind of, like, logical people. And we were like, we don’t want to have, like, a bad long-distance, like, have to break up while we’re long-distance, and like that ruin our friendship. So let’s just break up right now while we’re still friends. So we, like, don’t hurt each other. But then, like, we still had dates planned for the next two days. So it was, like, kind of weird to be like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re breaking up in two days,’ but we’re, like, still going out.

Dan Hu: What were the next two days like, with the dates planned?

Natalia Camino: Well, all of our friends came to my house for a bonfire, because a bunch of them were leaving Friday, and then he was leaving the Saturday. So they all came over on Thursday night, and we just pretended. We didn’t talk about it. None of our friends knew. We just had s’mores. And, like, it was all of our friends, a lot of them were going to Michigan State, and then, like, a few of them were going to (the University of) Michigan. And so it was just kind of, like, the last time our entire friend group was together. So everyone was kind of sad. It was just saying goodbye.

Dan Hu: So then, at this bonfire, you and him know that you’re breaking it off.
Natalie Camino: Yes.
Dan Hu: And no one else does.

Natalia Camino: No. v I knew it was going to happen, so it was just kind of weird to be living in what we had put off for so long.

Natalia Camino: I cried for, like, the first day. But then I had to go to work. And so I just had to act like nothing happened. I was a hostess at kind of a fancy restaurant. It was a very busy day at work, so it was very stressful, but I guess that it kind of took my mind off things for a while.

Dan Hu: After the breakup, Natalia didn’t quite know how to think about her relationship with her ex-boyfriend. They had a friendship to fall back on, but as he left for school weeks before her, there wasn’t really time to explore their new reality.

Natalia Camino: Well, I was like, ‘Oh, like, should we stop talking?’ And he was like, ‘No! Obviously not. Like, I still want to be your friend.’ So, like, we definitely talked less the first few days. But then obviously I was bored at home, so, like, I was still gonna talk to him.

Dan Hu: Did your perspective change when Wildcat Welcome was coming closer?

Natalia Camino: Definitely, I was like, ‘Oh, I definitely need to move on’ and stuff, but it’s just hard. I’s just weird to try to move on when, like, we still talk every day and the only difference is we’re not together physically.

Natalia Camino: His friends did say he has a picture of me on his desk, and last time I FaceTimed him he was wearing a shirt I got him the day we broke up. So I feel like he still has feelings, but it’s weird not being together. It’s kinda like hard to have that conversation because we’re like still not gonna see each other for a month.

Natalia Camino: We still have long conversations, and talk about our feelings and stuff, so, we’re basically doing long-distance, but also not. We’re better friends than we were before we started dating.

Dan Hu: Thanks Natalia for sharing your story. That’s all we’ve got for this week’s episode of NU Declassified. If you’re interested in appearing on future segments Let’s Talk Love, hop onto bit.ly/nulovepodcast. That’s all lowercase, [spell out] bit.ly/nulovepodcast. Tell us your love story.

Divitya Vakil: Ilana Arougheti, Dan Hu and me, Divitya Vakil, are the NU Declassified team. Much thanks to our editor Cassidy Jackson, and managing editors Elizabeth Byrne and Chris Vazquez. And of course, thank you Kikue, sorry, Kiki, and Natalia, for coming on for this episode. See you in two weeks, for the next episode of NU Declassified. Thanks for tuning in.

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