Growing up with a southern father I never thought I would like soccer, or even care about the sport. Which is funny because now I consider it a huge part of my life and something I look forward to each week.
Our relationship all started because of a soccer game. Shortly after graduating college AJ was living in Pennsylvania, and I was still in New Jersey. I have never met him, but I had heard about him from his mother and younger siblings. Through out my time in undergraduate school I had found Carmel Presbyterian nearby and began attending on a regular basis and became increasingly involved with the youth group. After graduation I found a job in a town nearby and starting attending the weekly youth groups again.
This was around the time when AJ began to volunteer at Carmel again as a youth group leader, which was when we met. September 11, 2013 – I can still remember what he was wearing when he walked into the fellowship hall – khaki cargo shorts, a long sleeve Sons of Ben soccer shirt and his sunglasses on his head backwards (AJ for the longest time wore his sunglasses backward on his head when not outside, and at times still does.)
After chatting with him indirectly with other youth leaders around I decided I wanted to get to know him more. It was around this time when AJ began talking about who he would bring to the Philadelphia Union game that weekend. [He claims he was being blatantly loud about this, wanting me to ask, but I disagree.]
It was later that night, after finally getting his phone number from his little brother Steve, that I went out on that limb and invited…well not so much invited as declared he would be taking me to the game that weekend. As soon as I texted that I started to freak out…waiting for a good ten minutes for his response. Thinking to myself, well I just messed that up. Luckily AJ agreed to take me and our first date was schedule.
As I continued to text with him I could not help but thinking about my lack of knowledge of soccer and how much I did not like the sport. What had I done?!
As the week progressed, and our conversation got longer and longer I knew I did not want to wait until Saturday (I know a whole three days) to see him and get to know him more in person. Being the naturally competitive people we are we made a friendly wager about who would be the better putt putt golfer.
So on Friday the 13th at 5:30 pm I met AJ in the church parking lot and he drove me to the Top of the Hill mini golf place and we decided to solve the debate. The whole day leading up to our date, I was a mess. Nervous yet excited to get to know AJ more, but nervous he would not like me or think I was too forward and loud. But as the date went on and the hours grew longer I knew I had found something special. Unlike other dates I had been on, I did not feel like AJ was being anything but honest. He was respectful and truly seemed interested in me and what I was doing or talking about.
Our first date did not officially end until 3:15 am, almost 10 hours after it began. After mini golf we went for a beverage at, what is now our favorite local bar, and then spent hours talking in the church parking lot. I did not know it at the time but not only would that be my best first date, but it would be my last.
From then on Friday the 13th holds a special place in my heart, and unlike others around the globe, it is not an unlucky day, but rather one that brings much happiness and joy.
P.S. For those wondering, I beat AJ by 2 strokes.
Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. It is where the fruit is ~ Shirley MacLaine