Ever since Avily did her love story last year, I’ve been wanting to do mine. With Christmas season not too far behind us, this is a perfect time to start, since Christmastime was when my relationship with Justin began.
As a teenager, my family participated in a co-op orchestra for home-schoolers. One of my friends at orchestra was a girl a few months younger than me, Sarah Titus, who came from a family of nine (at the time). One of her older siblings was Justin, a guy I knew by sight but never really interacted with much—at the time Sarah and I become friends, Justin had graduated high school and was busy in college.
I remember the first time I really spoke to Justin. My senior year of high school, I babysat for the orchestra director and music teacher, Mrs. Love. Sarah took lessons her on the same day that I babysat, so we would often see each other as I was heading out the door to my piano lesson and she was coming in for her cello lesson.
One day, instead of her mom dropping her off, Justin dropped Sarah off. I don’t even think we made eye contact—my mom and I were busy gathering my things, so as Justin popped in and out, we said a quick hello. He thundered away in his Jeep, which was missing a muffler, and I remember Sarah and I laughing about how guys liked loud ‘toys’.
Justin was also at my graduation ceremony, though only because Sarah was playing cello. I can’t even remember if he came up and said ‘congrats’ to me—probably he did, because Justin’s super nice and polite that way. We didn’t even remember he’d been there until a couple of years later when my grandma found a photo she’d taken of me, with Justin in the far fuzzy background.
I knew some girls who got married right off the bat when they graduated high school. My best friend now is one of those girls, and I graduated with a girl who did that. I saw nothing wrong with it at the time, but my plans included one thing:
I didn’t want to go to college, and as for a job–well, I had one already. I was starting up my own business in writing, even though I wasn’t making anything at it yet. My parents wanted it to be college or a paying job, so we came up with a solution that we all liked—I would take a two-year online writing course in place of college and also take on some more work around the house. That was 2007.
In 2008, we moved out to our newly-built farmhouse in the country. I also began getting together with other home-school graduates in the area once a month or so. It was a time for us to hang out and have fun, and also be around others who were in the same place in life—just starting a job or college and moving through that transition from ‘high school kid’ to ‘adult’. A group of us also started holding weekly Frisbee games on Sunday afternoons.
Justin and Sarah started coming to both the graduate group and the Frisbee games regularly, and just like that, Justin seamlessly slid into being a normal part of my life.
I can’t even remember when Justin & I began talking to each other regularly. I do know that it started because of a joke—one of us said something, and the other snarked back. Our friendship quickly grew as we realized we had the exact same sense of humor. Justin and I would smart-mouth each other any time we were within shouting distance—and on the Frisbee field, it became pretty good at reading each other and playing together as a great team. Some couples had signature dance moves—our signature move was skimming the Frisbee down the sidelines to each other.
But we weren’t a couple yet. We were just, as we said, ‘really close friends’. And to be honest, the thought of Justin Titus, the tall, lanky weather nerd, being interested in short, snarky, fantasy-nerd me, was the last thing on my mind.