In case you missed part 1 of how Joel and I met, you can catch up right here. For spoilers in the cliff notes version, read here. ;)
PART 2: SUMMER 2012
As the months passed, I started to feel more homesick and restless about where I was (figuratively and literally). As much as I tried to connect in my physical community, it became more and more of a struggle. With summer beginning, the school year was ending, and the local university Newman Center was cleared out and the last of my close friends had finally graduated and moved on and out. I was giving less presentations to youth groups and instead working more behind the scenes, which was hard on my little extrovert heart.
I ended up spending more time watching TV, Skyping my family, and browsing social media on my computer. And with that came more conversations with Joel. We added each other on Google Plus, Facebook, and Skype, joking that we were reaching higher levels of a "social media friendship." Tweets graduated to Facebook chat. The more we went back and forth, the easier it was to talk to him. It was hard to find something we didn't have in common. I started to catch myself leaving my computer open so I'd be able to see if he was online and wanted to chat, just in case I'd miss it. It wasn't a romantic interest, he was just slowly becoming a dear friend. He made me laugh (a lot) and I looked forward to hearing about his day. Our conversations came with ease and never seemed to end.
However, I was still trying to make it work in the relationship I was already a part of. We had different ways of communicating, and I remember thinking that it shouldn't be that hard. Although it took a couple of months to finally call it, I think there was a part of me that knew it wasn't supposed to be. We officially parted ways. In a very roundabout way, I think it was because of Joel. I told one of my girlfriends, "Even if nothing ever happened with my Twitter friend, or if we never even met in person, I feel like he just has some role to play in my life. Maybe it's just to show me how easy communication can be. I'd want to end up with someone I shared that with."
The August visit to Colorado was to see my college roommate and household sister... and also to visit the Denver Broncos training camp. Joel was heading back to Ohio for a wedding one of the same days I was flying, so even though we had never met, I kept an eye out for him at the airport just in case fate would let us meet. It didn't end up that way, but I still looked. And it turned out, he was looking for me too.
|Can you find Joel in the stands? Me neither. He was in Ohio. I did see someone who I thought looked like him though... well, form what I could tell from his Twitter picture.|
After a visit back home, it really hit me how much we had been talking. We were Facebook chatting for hours every night. My family was still really concerned that we hadn't met in person, and I don't blame them. I've heard plenty of stories (ok so mostly on the news) about people getting tricked or catfished or whatever the kids are calling it nowadays. I called Jackie, because as the only person we knew in common (and who knew and cared about both of us), I trusted her input. Once I reassured my family with her approval, they were a little more at ease.
|This is Jackie. This picture was taken much later in the story.|
As Joel & my friendship slowly progressed and feelings began to develop, it began to seem unnatural not to talk one degree of separation closer. I felt like we had almost hit a wall where our friendship couldn't progress any more without stepping up our method of communication. Joel had asked for my mailing address to send me a friendly letter, but I found myself feeling almost frustrated that i had to take the time to type everything out and we were missing important elements like voice inflection and tone. Because it was still pretty friendly, I finally put myself out there in a way that I thought wouldn't be TOO forward, but still conversational...
|I was clearly very smooth about it. And I was at no point thinking about ice cream.|
|*clicks enter* and ALL MY FEELINGS ARE EVERYWHERE|
Putting myself out there like that was terrifying. I imagined myself as a turtle throwing a love note out of it's shell and then quickly retreating back inside while waiting to be rejected. I was preparing myself to hear that this was strictly Platonic, or that I totally had the wrong idea, or that he was married or something horrible and heartbreaking. Waiting for his response felt like for-flipping-ever. I could see the little bubble showing that he typed something, then deleted it, typed something, then deleted it.
But it turns out, he had thought about it. A lot.
On August 25th, at 12:06 AM, Joel called me.
We talked for 4 1/2 hours that night. My face hurt from smiling and my stomach hurt from laughing. We talked again the next night for 6 hours, despite the two hour time difference. And it still seemed like we'd never have nothing to talk about.
More joy in part 3!