My lover

Today is a special day. Today marks 29 years since my love came to physically exist on this earth. For those of you who don’t know Josh, let me tell you a little bit about him.

Josh is one of the most passionate people I know. He loves and cares with all of his heart. His ability to persevere through times of difficulty is incredible. He is a hobbyist, a DIY’er, and full of great ideas. He’s always willing to extend a hand and is a faithful friend. These are only some of his great qualities.

I could go on with why Josh is a great human being, but I actually wanted to use my love’s birthday to document a truncated version of the beginning of our story. I know I’ve already shared it with many, but I don’t have it documented anywhere other than my heart. (Quick disclaimer: I am a sappy person.) There is something about reading a love story; it transports you to another realm. No, I’m not saying that ours will do that for you, but it’s still our story. As I listen to John Legend’s 2004 “Get Lifted” album, I transport myself to the time when my love and I met.

The year is 2004. Josh and I were teenagers actively involved in our church’s youth ministry programs. We were chosen by our churches to attend the Christian Leadership Institute (CLI), a week-long leadership retreat held at St. Mary’s Seminary in Santa Barbara. We were there with at least 98 other teenagers, so Josh and I didn’t make communications right away. It wasn’t until day three of the retreat that we made meaningful contact.

It was lunchtime at the retreat center. Josh and I were sitting at different tables and lunch was just about over. People were getting up, cleaning and leaving, but I wasn’t done eating. Everyone at my table had left—including a so-called “friend”—leaving me feeling like I wore a giant “L” on my forehead. (Being popular was one of the most important things at that age. Being a loner wasn’t.) As I tried working through the humiliation—I see it differently now—Josh came over and sat with me until I finished. If I was writing a fiction based on our story, I would’ve described him as a knight in shining armor.

Fast-forwarding, we officially became boyfriend and girlfriend—that sounds so cute!—almost two months after meeting. It would’ve been sooner, but I’m happy Josh asked me when we saw each other in person. See, he was from and lived in Orange County, and I was from and lived in Los Angeles County. We didn’t have cell phones, kept in contact through email, and were regulars on AOL Instant Messenger (aka AIM). (Yes, I totally had the alarms on for Josh.)

The only times we would really get to see each other was at Disneyland; he lived about fifteen minutes from it and I could use going to Disneyland as an excuse to see him. (You didn’t have to pay a limb to get in back then.) The distance between us and our parentals’ strictness wasn’t ideal for our dating situation. We dated for about eight months before I allowed the distance to get to me, which led to our break up. I had broken up with Josh, but had failed to move on.

Fast forward a year. I never got “over him”(…obviously). I began stalking him on Myspace until I got back in communication with him. There was a lot of emotion that resurfaced during this time, not many rainbows and butterflies since there was healing to be done from our previous relationship. Plus, we were at very different points in our lives. We were no longer teenagers who were youth leaders at church. We were young adults trying to find ourselves. I was living in Santa Barbara for college—I still find it beautiful that I ended up living close to where we met—and he was in Long Beach.

With the help of my tenacity, I was able to convince Josh that a second time at a relationship with me would be a good idea. ::insert winking emoji:: On New Years of 2007, we consciously decided to befriend the distance between us and become a couple once again. We visited each other traveling the Amtrak and Metro lines to and from Santa Barbara and Long Beach. Sometimes we were lucky enough to get a direct ride from friends.

This time around, we made it work.

Our road to now has not been easy. We’ve been through a lot together, makes sense considering we’ve been together almost a decade. Josh has been through my depression, a horrible car accident, family drama, a mini-stroke, dropping out of college, career changes, and so much more with me. He has stood firmly by my side and has never thought twice about holding my hand through it all.

As I bring our story to a close (for now), “So High” is playing. John Legend sings sweetly in my ears. I feel indescribably grateful for the man God connected me with in this lifetime. I’m confident that we will continue finding each other in other lifetimes.

“Let’s go to the moon baby.” Happy birthday my love!

– Big Nugget

Day 4 – Some of my favorite things about Josh (in no particular order): He’s a foodie, he can beatbox, he’s a lover of animals and plants, and he can build bicycles.

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