Section: Features

What is love at Kenyon?

By Lauren Eller and Grant Miner

Kei Helm ’16 & Ella Jones ’17

Courtesy of Ella Jones
Courtesy of Ella Jones

For Kei Helm ’16 and Ella Jones ’17, distance is no impediment to their relationship.

The pair have been dating since Jones’s freshman year and Helm’s sophomore year, after they met at an Old Kenyon party. He did not recognize her, but she recognized him from a play rehearsal she watched while visiting campus as a prospective student the year before.

Since then, the duo has maintained their relationship during both Helm’s time abroad in Copenhagen last spring, and now Jones’s time abroad in Florence, where she is spending the semester.

“I think one of the reasons our relationship has worked so well and lasted so long is because we’re very comfortable with each other and, just, like, we know we have each other’s backs,” Helm said.

He added that their time apart was made more manageable by their ability to see each other over the summer and spend last semester together on campus. Additionally, he plans to visit her in Florence over spring break.

Jones recalled making dinner reservations for Valentine’s Day two years ago at the Alcove Restaurant in Mount Vernon. It was so cold on Valentine’s Day that year their car wouldn’t start; they missed their reservation and instead ate at Fiesta Mexicana once the car started working again.

“I guess love means to me like you could be having the worst day ever but just seeing the other person for even like, a couple minutes makes it a good day,” Jones said.

“It’s really just about supporting the other person and who they are and what they want to do,” Helm said. “A relationship shouldn’t change either person, it should just make both of them … more themselves, I guess.”

Isabel Landers ’18 & Sam Roschewsk ’18

Courtesy of Sam Roschewsk
Courtesy of Sam Roschewsk

When sophomores Isabel Landers and Sam Roschewsk followed each other on Tumblr prior to both deciding to attend Kenyon, neither could have imagined where their friendship (and ultimately their relationship) would go.

Landers said she had just applied Early Decision II to Kenyon when she saw that Roschewsk, who had applied and been accepted during Early Decision I, reblogged a picture of Gambier.

“I reblogged it, and I tagged it like, ‘Oh, I’m going there,’ and then she messaged me, and then we messaged back and forth,” Landers said. “We friended each other on Facebook pretty soon after that, so she was always on the radar.”

The Professors Schumacher

Courtesy of Carol Schumacher
Courtesy of Carol Schumacher

After 28 years of teaching, it’s not surprising that Professor of Physics Benjamin Schumacher and Professor of Mathematics Carol Schumacher’s relationship began in a classroom — specifically, in their freshman calculus class at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.

“Carol had been in a pre-orientation group with a girl I had gone to high school with — we were all three in this class together,” Benjamin said. “There you go, the first class we were in. It’s funny — after we stopped taking classes together was when we started dating.”

They both assured me this wasn’t because of the competitive curve that they only started dating after they stopped taking math classes together. The pair continued dating well into grad school, deciding to get married in 1984.

“We were on our honeymoon, driving back to grad school at the University of Texas at Austin,” Carol said. We had gotten married in Conway, Arkansas, and were just kind of going back to Texas slowly.”

“We went to Little Rock and Dallas for our honeymoon,” Benjamin interrupted, laughing.

While the Schumachers had originally planned to go somewhere new for their honeymoon, they eventually decided they would rather just save the money and have fun on the drive back.

“Anyway, we’re driving and this speed demon comes driving by me and I look over, and it’s my mother,” Carol said. “Both my parents and my godmother were in this car and they come zooming past us. So I sped up and I start pulling up next to her and honking the horn, and she’s kind of like, ‘What is this idiot doing honking the horn?’ Eventually we signaled to each other and stoped at a rest stop. Turns out there was a Dairy Queen nearby, so we had ice cream.”

If there’s one thing that most couples don’t want to do on their honeymoon, it’s visit the in-laws — yet Benjamin was unphased.

“It seems like running into your mother-in-law on your honeymoon is the beginning of an awful story,” Benjamin said. “But really, it’s actually kind of nice.”

When asked the oh-so-difficult question, he jumped at the chance to answer.

“I’ll tell you the meaning of love,” he said. “Love is when someone else’s happiness, and I mean happiness in a philosophical sense, is essential to your own.” He looked at his wife.

“I’ll go with that,” she said.

“You’ll go with that?” he asked.

“Yup,” she answered.

Professor Bickford & daughter Cora

Photo by Lauren Eller
Photo by Lauren Eller

“I would say that it’s appreciating every moment that you spend with that person,” Chris Bickford, assistant professor of biology, said on the meaning of love. “With your child, or with your loved ones — I think that we all feel some aspect of that.”

Love can be difficult to describe, but sometimes the youngest among us do it best.

Bickford’s daughter, Cora, is six years old and a kindergartner at Wiggin Street Elementary. She distilled the essence of love down to one word, saying, “Huggy!” and throwing herself into her father’s arms. He said this was her way of saying, “I want to hug you.”

Professor Hardy and Professor Murphy; their children Quinn and Duncan Hardy

Photo by Lauren Eller
Photo by Lauren Eller

Though Professors of Anthropology Bruce Hardy and Kimmarie Murphy had an endearingly clumsy beginning to their relationship, the time they have spent together since has been anchored by a close partnership and their common love for the field of anthropology.

Murphy, associate professor of anthropology, was in her first year of graduate school at Indiana University when she met Hardy, the John B. McCoy-Banc One distinguished teaching professor of anthropology, in 1989. Hardy helped organize a meet-and-greet for new graduate students at a Chinese restaurant, and after the dinner was over Murphy realized she had left her backpack behind. Hardy offered to walk back with her so she didn’t have to go alone.

Murphy remembers making small talk and feeling new to the area, being from upstate New York. She recalled with a laugh that she had said to Hardy, “What’s going on with all the god-awful Southern accents around here?”

“And I’m from Alabama,” Hardy recalled with a smile.

“Very much revealing my ignorance and naïveté, I was really just this … fish out of water,” Murphy said.

After he told her he was from Alabama, Murphy said, “Well, at least your name’s not Bubba.”

“And I said, ‘No, but my brother’s name is,’” Hardy said.

Despite this initial interaction, the two went on to date. They both recalled an early outing in their relationship during which they went to a restaurant and ordered rabbit. Hardy remembered pulling the bones out of the rabbit as they ate and identifying the skeletal elements, harnessing their combined anthropological knowledge.

“He pulled it up and I went, ‘Oh, that’s a bunny femur!’ So yes, romantic dinner conversation,” Murphy said.

Hardy described the pair as having “a very close partnership,” since they work together and are both involved in raising their two children, Duncan and Quinn. “Family for us is just extremely important.”

As for what love means to them, Murphy said she thought of it as being about things that don’t necessarily come to mind when we hear the word “love.”

“Typically it’s all about the romance, and it’s all about the attraction, and those are all incredibly important things, and yet to me when it comes down to it, it’s about commitment,” Murphy said. “It’s about dealing with another person even in situations that they may not present their best face, or you may not present your best face.”

Duncan and Quinn Hardy had thoughts on love as well.

“Love means something you value in life, like squirrels and dogs,” Quinn, a nine year old and third grader at Wiggin Street Elementary, said.

Thirteen-year-old Duncan, an eighth grader at Mount Vernon Middle School, felt similarly. “Something that you care for a lot,” he said.

Duncan said he wasn’t sure if he’d ever been in love before. In response to the same question, Quinn said, “Not really,” but added, “Squirrels are awesome.”

Photo by Lauren Eller
Photo by Lauren Eller

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