Leah & Peter: Parting sweethearts

  • Article by: GAIL ROSENBLUM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 20, 2012 - 3:33 PM

High-school sweethearts Leah and Peter say goodbye as she heads off to college.

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Peter Elsham embraces girlfriend Leah Neubeck.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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There's nothing worse than a security line moving at a snail's pace when you have a plane to catch. Unless you're Leah Neubeck and Peter Elsham. Then there's nothing better.

Leah and Peter, both 18 and from Golden Valley, have known each other since sixth grade, when, Leah says, she was "a tomboy with a unibrow." They attended a dance as friends in ninth grade, then shifted to sweetheart status as sophomores at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka. When Peter got his driver's license, he drove Leah to school every day for two years.

When they're not driving or studying, they're usually text-messaging, e-mailing or talking on their cells.

"She's funny," Peter says of Leah. "I don't know. We have so much fun together. I just love her."

Leah says Peter is her boyfriend and best friend.

But can it last?

On a recent Saturday morning, the duo seemed oblivious to the airport hum around them, their hands locked in a vise-like grip, their eyes exhibiting the anxiety of young lovers about to be wrenched apart by that modern scourge: college.

Leah was heading to Northeastern University in Boston to play volleyball and study architecture. Peter heads to the University of Minnesota-Duluth on Sept. 2 to study physical education.

"She was thinking about UMD, but that didn't work out," Peter says. "I told her, 'Don't pick your college based on me.' I'm glad she's in it for herself and getting a whole new experience. Sometimes, I think it's good we're so far apart. Maybe it will bring us closer."

There's certainly precedent. Leah's parents, Bonnie and Peter Neubeck, have been sweethearts since eighth grade and married for 33 years.

"They love Peter," Leah says of her folks. "But they know I have this great life ahead of me."

So, one last kiss. Then a subtle reminder that the baton isn't being passed quite yet. As Leah heads through security with her adoring boyfriend watching from afar, the other Peter -- her father -- waves goodbye, too, before heading off to take his little girl to college orientation.

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