August 1998. Almost 18 years exactly. That is how long I have known Josh. August 2007. Almost 9 years since we re-met if you will and almost 9 years since our friendship became an unbreakable bond.
Let me back up a bit and start from 1998. Josh and I were in kindergarten together at First Presbyterian (fun fact: our moms knew each other when they were teens) and were Kindergarten buddies but then we switched schools. It wasn’t until we were 14 that we crossed paths *knowingly* at a dinner one night for the college prep course we would both be involved in for our time in high school that we re-met.
That night was the start of one of the best friendships I’ve ever had the pleasure to be in. We weren’t in the same class freshman year but shared friends so we got to know one another a bit, then sophomore year things took off and we became absolutely inseparable. Together in the mornings before classes, in the afternoons before we went home, side by side on the bus for school trips, & each other’s houses on the weekends and throughout the summers.
Everyone always said that Josh had a crush on me (one of our friends even tried to set us up freshman year) but I never believed it, throughout school I knew we were best friends and even thought we saw each other as siblings. He was protective and caring, never approved of guys I was dating. Then again I was the same way with his girlfriends. No one was ever good enough for the other in our eyes.
By the time we were graduating I was in a relationship, heading off to college 6 hours from home, Josh was leaving for boot camp in December for the Navy…but that didn’t tear us apart. He came up to visit me at WCU with my parents for family weekend and then I saw him the few times I went home. By the time I got home for Christmas break he was gone. That was hard…letters just weren’t enough, I started to realize how much he meant to me. You know, “don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”? I started to think I may feel more than “he’s my best friend”, and once he graduated boot camp the feelings didn’t disappear. I eventually broke things off with my boyfriend because I just didn’t know what to do about my feelings even though I kept telling myself I was only feeling this because I wasn’t used to be separated like this (side note, the feelings for Josh were not the only reason my ex and I called it quits there were other reasons).
Josh made the 12 hour drive to visit me at school once he got situated in Pensacola for school and could take leave. He got in on a Thursday morning and took me to Gatlinburg for a day after I finished my classes that morning and we rode the sky lift before heading to Pigeon Forge for go karts and donuts. It was the next day that meant so much to me; Josh has always been the one I tell every secret to, every dream and he knows my bucket list is important to me. He got us tickets for a weekend at The Biltmore in Asheville. I was so excited! We left that Friday after my classes and he had even checked something off his own bucket list and got us a room at The Inn at Biltmore. We had the best time but during that trip I realized for whatever reason I just wasn’t feeling like things needed to progress.
Over the next few years we talked but not as much…he had girlfriends and I had a few dates but focused on school. He moved from Florida to California, which created problems for us because instead of coming home in between he flew out early so he could get to an old friend that he ended up dating. Even though things got tricky for us between 2012 & 2014 he was there for me during one of the hardest times. He happened to be on leave and in NC when my grandpa passed away. I called Josh when it happened and he dropped everything he was doing, met me at my house put my little sisters car seat in his car and took me and all my siblings back to my grandpa’s house. He stayed with me until 9:30 that night and attempted to skip his family beach trip to be there for the funeral but I said no. He drove back to school with me a couple of days after the funeral so that I wouldn’t be alone those first few days of school. Then he went back to California where he eventually got engaged. Things got rough between us during that time (turns out the fiancé didn’t care much for me, and a lot of my calls were erased by her or she wouldn’t tell him I called). They called off their wedding a few weeks before he came home in November 2014 and Josh & I spent a few days together and rebuilt our friendship (didn’t take much). He flew from NC to his new station, Japan in early December.
Fast forward to August 2015, Josh & I began planning a trip for me to fly out and visit him in Japan. I didn’t want us going 2-3 years without seeing each other and we had been talking as often as we could while he was deployed that year. I started to notice that feeling again, where it might could be more but I just didn’t know. When I flew out March 2016 I was still really unsure until a few days into my trip. I was so nervous and worried about what could happen to our friendship if something didn’t work between us and I felt like I had to make a decision and then on my third night there I had a few drinks and told him how I felt. That was all it took once I got everything off my chest, cried and then things started to change over the next week. By the time he took me to Tokyo for a surprise he had planned I knew I had one of my own. I was “playing with my phone” before we left the room when I gave it to him and told him it was up to him if it changed. The phone screen was on Facebook and I had it set to change my relationship status to In a Relationship with Josh. Y’all he clicked update fast and definitely smiled all night. Since I’ve come home things are going just great but I for one am so ready for him to be sent back stateside some time in 2017.
If there is one thing I know it’s that even though we could have done this back in 2012 when he took me to Asheville, or even back in 2008 when our friend tried, waiting until 2016 was the best decision. We both grew up in that time, learned more about one another and what we want from the world and our prospective partner. It caused us to be stronger together, we have been torn apart as best friends and stitched ourselves back every time, we know not to walk away. I for one cannot wait to see what the future holds for myself and Josh.