If you're jumping in now, you can read part 1 and part 2 by clicking the links. If you want to skip ahead to the end, read on. For the short version, read this. ;)
That September was one of the longest months of my life.
Joel and I had a blast chatting as much as we could on and off throughout the day. We'd break for driving home and dinner, then jump on the phone and talk for another few hours. I was completely smitten. I wanted to know anything and everything about this dear friend who was rapidly making himself a permanent placeholder in my heart.
But it was still a tad embarrassing that we'd still never seen each other's faces outside of pictures posted online.
Within a week of becoming official, we scheduled our first Skype call. It was all I could think about all day. I did my hair, kept my makeup minimal, and wore a loose pink pinstripe button up. About an hour before Joel was scheduled to call, my nerves began to get the best of me. What are we doing? What am I doing? What if he is nothing like I picture? What if his voice doesn't match his face? What if he doesn't like me anymore? I started sweating, and up went the curled hair. I needed to relax. I poured myself a glass of White Zinfandel in my favorite glass (and oversized stem wine glass that I still have in the cupboard) and tried to act casual.
Here's the thing though: when I'm nervous, I mess with whatever is in my hands, in this case, the wine glass. The giant wine glass, That I overfilled. And all of a sudden there was only a sip left. And we're about a minute and a half out from the call. And I'm all loosey goosey. And blushing... from the wine and the nerves. Great idea, Justine.
I answered the call and we talked for a good 3 1/2 ish minutes without a hitch.
I looked away from the screen for a few seconds and heard a sudden noise come from the other end and all of a sudden, Joel was gone. I heard movement, I could still see his apartment, but no Joel. Then his head popped up from behind the desk. The folding chair he was using spontaneously fell to pieces. He only had a desktop computer and no back up chairs in his little studio apartment. So, this is it, I thought. That was fun while it lasted. But Joel, just as excited about this opportunity as me, made the chivalrous sacrifice and offered to kneel in front of his computer long enough for us to finish the conversation. I couldn't believe he would offer to do that for me, instead of just easily ending the call and using the phone.
We talked for four more hours before I remembered he was KNEELING. He made no complaint, was still fully invested in our talk, told stories, asked questions, and was the same incredible man I was falling for over the phone. And then I saw him shift his weight a little and subtly rub his knee. I had totally forgotten and he finally agreed to switch to the phone because OF COURSE we weren't done talking yet. We talked for another hour or so before finally calling it a night.
Skype calls became our new regular. We had them on constantly, sometimes even when we were working on other things. I vividly remember drinking champagne after a work success of mine and Joel wanted some too... so he stretched the camera as far as it could reach (to the floor) and left me to hang out with his "free range" rabbit while he went down the block on a champagne run.
It wasn't long before he bought his ticket to visit me.
We still had a couple of weeks to wait, so I spent my free time planning our itinerary and freaking out. It was a risk, inviting this man to come for the weekend, especially if it didn't go well. But how could it not go well? I still couldn't shake the feeling that he had a big role to play in my life, whether it be for this season or for the long term.
I'll never forget the night we first exchanged "I love you"'s, but I'll save just that little bit for just the two of us.
I'm not sure at what point exactly we knew, but it was definitely before Joel arrived. We hadn't talked at length about the long term, but I had an unmistakable peace in my prayer and in my heart that this was the man I was made to spend the rest of my life with. I was almost too good to be true... but not quite. ;)
On September 21st, I packed up my mix tape (well CD, but it was a thing) and some Kung Pao beef for Joel's dinner and drove an hour to the airport to meet Joel, officially, in person, for the very first time.
I was going to wait in the parking lot, but I was too excited and looked for him at the outside pickup. He called me, and I saw a tall dark blonde man with a suitcase on the phone near me. I was about to go up to him when Joel said he was walking and looking for me... so clearly not that guy. I panicked. How do I greet him? Do I hug him? Reach out for a handshake? A handshake? Why would I do that? To be funny maybe? Not funny. Don't do that. What if he's far away? Do I run to him? Walk? Wait for him to come to me? I'd better play it safe. Thinking on my feet, I played the super cool move of staying on the phone with him to lead him to me, at the same time ducking behind a pillar at the end of the pickup line to wait for him.
Just before I could hear his voice in person, I stepped out from behind the pillar and there he was, only a few yards away, walking towards me. Joel dropped his bags, enveloped me in a hug, and all I could think was, This is the first time I am hugging the man who will be my husband.
I never wanted that weekend to end. We toured my work, sipped pumpkin spice lattes and strolled around my neighborhood, built a blanket fort, watched HGTV, ate at my favorite Mexican restaurant. On his last day with me, we stopped at the mall (90's style) and took photo booth pictures. That was the first of what would unintentionally become one of our date traditions.
Before Joel made it back home I bought my ticket to go out and visit him... and the rest is history.
So there you have it: the long story of how we met on Twitter. We're almost 5 years together, 3 kids later, and I could not be happier. I'm so thankful you made it through reading this far... if you're interested in hearing more of our love story, let me know!
And to Joel:
Falling in love with you has been the greatest adventure of my life and it continues to be every day. Thank you for everything. I love you.