This is the story of how we met.
Justin and I grew up on opposite sides of the world. Somehow we both ended up in South Korea in the same year, but in different cities. I was living in a large, modern city. He was in a small town outside of the larger city, Busan. Originally I had planned to move to Thailand, but a couple of months before I was supposed to leave South Africa, I met two girls (sisters) while out hiking. They were moving to South Korea and something about the country that they described really caught my attention. I made a last minute decision to change my plans and I ended up in South Korea. Even though I was in a completely different city to the sisters, I liked knowing that they were in the same country as me. I spent a number of weekends with them, but eventually I settled in and we lost contact for a while.
Justin found himself living in a quiet little town where there were very few foreigners and not much to do at all. In fact, he was very surprised when he found out that there were even other expats in his town. For all he knew, he was the only one. One evening he went and met all of them, and that was when he ran into my two friends, the sisters. While I was running wild in the big city, for the most part, things were pretty quiet for Justin.
A couple of months later, I called my friends and asked if we could meet up. The plan was for me to take a train to Busan, where they would pick me up, in their car, and we would drive to a nearby Jimjilbang (Korean Spa) located across the road from a famous beach. We would relax there all weekend, making use of the cheap overnight spa accommodation. That Friday, Justin had also called the girls to see if any of the foreigners in his little town were doing anything. Thinking that they had invited him, Justin said he would catch a ride with the sisters to the Spa for the weekend. Later on, it came out that they weren’t inviting him to come along, they were merely telling him their plans. However, being as kind as they were, they didn’t tell Justin this. They picked him up and the three of them drove to the train station to meet me. I made it from Daejeon to Busan by about midnight. The girls had been texting me so I knew that they were waiting across the road from the station in their car. I will never forget this moment, as I have replayed it over in my head a million times. I opened the car door and climbed into the backseat. There was a guy sitting there. He was very quiet, almost frozen. I assumed that he was a really shy guy because he didn’t say much at all. He might have mumbled “hi”, but he didn’t say anything else for a long time.
I love the way that Justin tells this part of the story…
(This part has to be described and shouldn’t be written. You can’t convey the feelings into words, but I’ll try)
I was sitting in the back seat waiting for the sisters’ friend to show up. They had told me that she was pretty, but I didn’t really know much else. The weather had steamed up the windows so when the silhouette approached the car, I didn’t really pay attention. Then the door opened, and instantly my heart sank. In came this amazingly beautiful girl, with such a wonderful smile. From the moment Catherine got into he car, I knew that she was someone special. I loved her bubbly and infectious personality. I would call it that “Love at First Sight” moment.
We drove towards the spa and I kept talking and talking. I felt like I had so much to tell my friends as I had not seen them in ages. They asked me questions. We laughed and caught up. This was, already, turning out to be a great weekend. All the while, this guy sitting next to me in the back of the car said absolutely nothing. I didn’t really pay much attention to him since he was obviously not very chatty. In fact, I couldn’t decide if he was shy or he just didn’t want to be there. Regardless of what he felt, I was happy to be with my friends so kept leaning forward to chat with them. I noticed that I liked all of the music playing, so I commented on it and picked up the iPod that was connected to the car speakers. The guy, who I then knew to be “Justin from America”, said that the iPod was his. “Hmm, this guy has good taste”, I thought.
We got to the spa and split up, the girls went to their side of the building and the Justin went to the other way. In Korea, spas are a BIG deal. You arrive, strip down to absolutely nothing, put on the provided “pajama-looking” outfits, and then wander around, deciding where to spend your time relaxing. The sisters and I found a few hot pools in the designated ladies area, and we stayed there for ages. It never even crossed my mind to ask where Justin had gone because he was obviously not too amused by us. Meantime, poor Justin had changed his clothes, and had been waiting for us. He had no idea where we had gone. When he was sure that we were not coming out to join him in the co-ed area, he sat in a couple of the sauna rooms to kill some time. When we eventually did make it to where he was, I was ready to check out the hot stone room, the ice room, and the steam room. Justin really doesn’t enjoy any of these, and he had already tried them all out, but when I asked who was going to join me, he was the first to say that he wanted to. I thought nothing of it. We spent an abnormally long time in the hot stone room, chatting away about our most recent trips to Cambodia. It turned out that we had both been to Cambodia at roughly the same time, so we had a number of travel stories to compare. We lay on the hot stones, laughing and chatting for what felt like two hours. After that we went to the ice room and again, stayed in there for a long time. I absolutely love that kind of thing, so I didn’t think it was a big deal, but Justin was not a fan at all. He just wanted to be near me, so he went whoever I suggested. By this point the poor guy was absolutely dehydrated but he said nothing because he didn’t want to make me think he didn’t want to hang out.
That night we slept on some hard deck chairs. We haven’t blogged much about Korean Spas (which we really should since we spent so much time in South Korea), but basically you sleep wherever you like. There are no pillows or blankets, you simply find a spot that looks good and you lay down and sleep. It is very abnormal for us western folk, but really a unique experience that we enjoyed. Justin ended up sleeping on the floor next to my deck chair. I’m sure that he couldn’t have found a better spot to sleep, but I later found out that he couldn’t bare the thought of leaving my side. Even only a few hours after meeting, we were already joking around and beginning to feel inseparable.
The rest of the weekend, Justin kept a close eye on me. He asked the others about me and tried to find out as much as he could. On Sunday I had to leave Busan and head back to Daejeon via train. Justin drove back to his little town with one of the sisters and another friend. The two in the front seats chatted about me the whole way home, and Justin just sat in the back and listened. When I got home there was a message from him on Facebook. Without giving it any though, I added him. As the new week started, we began chatting on Skype. In fact, we could not get off Skype. We chatted for hours and hours on end. By the end of the week, we had already planned for Justin to come to my city on Friday night. He took a train after work and made it there just in time for dinner. That was the start of many, many trips back and forth between his little town and my big city. Friday to Sunday eventually became too little time, so Justin boarded a train every Wednesday night too. He left again early on Thursday mornings. There was only one day a week that we didn’t see each other – Tuesday were the longest days of any week.
There are no words to describe the kind of love that we have felt for each other right from the very beginning. Justin fell first, and then shortly after, so did I. It became too hard to live in different cities, so when my school announced that it was closing at the end of the school year, Justin asked me to move in with him. I didn’t even have to think about it. There was nothing that I wanted more than to be with him every day. No more train rides and endless hours on Skype, we were finally going to be together. Circumstances didn’t allow for it, but we would have married each other in those first three months. There was not a single doubt in our minds – we were going to spend the rest of our lives together! From then on, life was never the same.
Justin has changed so much about my life and I know that he feels the same about me. I love what we have. It’s easy, relaxed, full of understanding and compassion, never selfish, and completely unique. Sometimes I have to sit back and remind myself of how blessed we are. Some relationships are very hard work, but things flow so smoothly between us. When issues come up we deal with them immediately. Through this relationship, we have both learned so much about each other and ourselves. Even before I met him, I knew in my heart that he was out there. He is everything that I hoped and prayed for, and so much more. I can’t imagine being on this journey, called “life”, with anyone besides him.
He is, without a doubt, the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me!
I am so blessed to be his wife, and the mother of his child.
So there it is, the story of how Justin and I met. I always say that our journey started on May 7th because it was the end of that day that we met. But Justin says he fell in love with the me second that he saw me, and that was after midnight, so technically May 8th. Whatever date it was (the 7th or the 8th), it was 5 years ago, and it will always be the date that we are most fond of. It was the day that our lives changed forever!