On Friendship and These Fleeting Years

Richard Paige — Fraternity brothers, cast mates, friends. But this isn’t your average Wabash story.

Jared Cottingham ’18 and Nathan Muha ’18 first met on the tee ball fields of Lowell, Indiana, 17 years ago. Nathan’s father was the coach. They’ve been friends ever since.

At the conclusion of Commencement on Sunday, the two will take separate paths — Nathan to Chicago to gain a foothold in the theater business and Jared to medical school in Kentucky.

“I don’t think it’s going to be all that strange,” Jared says. “The ties are continuing to deepen. It’s not going to matter where we are on the map. That’s life. The same thing happens with family, and he’s family.”

Nathan Muha.

Family might be selling this connection short. Think of the conversations in the hallway or lunchroom at school, the rehearsals, or your first college roommate. Every meaningful moment in your young adult life shared with the same friend.

“So much of the joy of knowing someone for so long is that all of these formative experiences happen along with them,” Nathan says.

While, obviously, very close, the chance to spend these college years together was simply a happy accident, according to Jared. Both sort of assumed that they would be going to other schools and didn’t talk much about college choices. During one of those off-hand winter break conversations, they discovered both had applied to Wabash.

As Nathan says, “Wabash was the best opportunity for both of us.”

Jared Cottingham.

Strolling to the Senior Bench for this conversation, each looking the part of a college graduate complete with coffee in hand, the talk turned to friendship, to the ones made here. Nathan boiled friendship down to the essentials. It’s a lesson many learn over time, but not usually at 22.

“It would be unfair to expect out of a friend the things I’ve gotten from Jared because of time and experience,” he says. “That’s not something you replicate. We’ve both made really incredible and fantastic friends here – ones we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives – yet that doesn’t compare to a lifetime with another person.”

For Cottingham, there is comfort in togetherness.

“It’s interesting because friendship provides you with a rock to reflect on the experience, but also to make the experience that much more special because there is an enduring theme of simply being together,” he says. “A lot of our friendship has revolved around the academic year and we’ll go on hiatus for the summer and not see each other for months. That experience of not seeing each other once in a while has never diminished our friendship. We always pick up where we left off.”