Matt is taking over the 10th today to share this lovely tribute to his wife on her birthday. Look for Jenna’s post tomorrow!
Weeks after meeting her, as our feelings for each other began to grow and we relinquished our efforts to slow them, there was one particular late night conversation in the basement of NVW—three cheers for open house hours—when we discussed career paths. I came to Calvin with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life, no solidified major, no career goals. I was hoping my new girlfriend would share my sentiments and spend some time commiserating with me about that. Ohhh Matt, I have no idea either! Life is just so confusing. Want to make out?
To my great dismay, she didn’t say any of that. Instead, she launched into her plans to move to Europe after college, to find a program that would allow her to teach in a bilingual school, grow as an educator. She spoke confidently about her fear of “settling down” and her desire toward adventure.
It was the most intimidating thing I’d experienced in the past several months, a time that included moving to a new city and starting college. I remember being blown away not only by her plan—you’re just gonna MOVE to EUROPE?!—but her boldness in articulating that plan to someone who clearly did not share it. She was direct, matter-of-fact. I think I fell for her a bit more that night, even if we didn’t end up making out. (We totally did.)
It was a dark, dark night in Germany’s Black Forest, our first trip together since moving to Hungary to teach English. I was doing some recruiting for Calvin and we were taking a local bus to our B&B, Hotel Pfaffenkeller which, side note, is still the loveliest place we stayed throughout our time in Europe. It sat in the heart of a tiny village called Wollbach in the countryside. The bus was extremely unclear about which stop was which, and when the route came to a close, and we had already gotten off once before because the bus had already reached its final destination and began back toward its original destination.
We decided to get out at one particular stop because we thought we heard something related to “Wollbach.” We got out of the bus—remember, it’s dark and we don’t have the benefit of city lights—and there was nothing there. A gas station across the street was clearly not in service and hadn’t been for years. Street lights were non-existent. I went into full panic mode as the bus drove away, gone, and I realized what a mistake we had made. Neither of us had international plans on our phones and we had no maps of the area. Without saying a word, Kendahl started walking with purpose, her thumb up like a hitchhiker.
As if on cue, a bright light grew from the distance as a car sped toward us and then slowed. We asked the woman if she knew our B&B. Miraculously, to us at least, she both spoke English and was willing to drive us there. All thanks to Kendahl’s bold decision-making and thumb.
This morning Kendahl walked out of the room gingerly, as anyone up early would, eyes squinty as they absorbed the new light. She was wearing a light green Michigan State shirt, a change from her typical “napping for two” shirt that is just so real.
“Can you feed Kevin and take him out?” she asked.
I took a second to rub and kiss her belly.
“I haven’t talked to her in a few days,” I said. “I miss her.”
It’s been a busy time, with friends and family visiting, that sometimes a few days can get away from us quickly.
Kendahl walked back into the room, back to sleep. She was really tired, you could tell. In a year when she’s finishing up her Master’s degree in counseling and we moved to a new city for my job, Kendahl is also carrying our first child. This means, among other things, diet restriction, prenatal vitamins that do weird things, loss of sleep (and general discomfort when sleeping), weight gain, random pains, and of course, general tiredness. It’s not just that she’s doing all of it, but how she deals with it all—how steady and calm she is, how little she complains. She carries such a poise with her at all times that I find so admirable. I love how she goes after this last grad school class, takes care of Kev, leads the girls at church. I love how she listens, as she always has, to my random work stories. I love how she teaches me about Jesus still, both by what she’s learning and how she carries herself.
So Happy Birthday, Kendahl, and cheers to twenty-nine. This year is going to be the best one yet.
Matt Cambridge (’12) is a new dad to Chloe, husband to the beautiful Kendahl, and a human resources professional at Boeing. He lives in St. Louis and enjoys eating Hershey’s kisses, riding roller coasters, and watching the latest stand-up specials on Netflix. You can read more of his work at laughcrythink.com.