Group photo - Back row - Krystal, Jim, Suzanne, Captain Gino, Adam. Front row - Kristie, Kim, Carl, Justin
Krystal, Justin, Suzanne, and Kim at Hope Town Light House
Justin and Krystal on the Lion's Paw
Suzanne, Krystal, Carl (buried), Adam, and Justin
Love story (narrated by Krystal).
When people ask how Justin and I met, I usually give them the super-condensed version of the story and say we met during a youth group trip to the Bahamas. Or sometimes, if I feel I might seem like it's bragging to say it was in the Bahamas, I'll just say we met in a youth group.
But, I'll write the long version here. I'll start with what led us to meet in the first place. The summer prior to my Sophomore year of high school had been tough. I had been a cheerleader my Freshman year and did not get picked for the team after tryouts for my Sophomore year. This was the most devastating thing that could ever happen, from my little 15-year-old perspective. I remember sobbing, hugging my mom for what seemed like eternity, and then moping around the house for days. Eventually, I picked myself up, brushed off the dust, and decided I could find other things to do. I joined the cross-country team, in which I discovered my love for running. I also joined a group called Exploring, which was the young adult division of the Boy Scouts of America. It was a group meant to help both young men and young women explore different career options. My Exploring post met at Chalco Hills Recreation Area in Nebraska. I still remember the nice leader named Bob who volunteered his time to help us kids out.
At one of the Exploring meetings, there was a flyer about a group called a "High Adventure Post". It was basically an Exploring post that was dedicated to taking a sailing trip to the High Adventure Sea Base in the Bahamas. I grabbed the flyer and knew right away that I was DEFINITELY going on the trip. It took a lot of begging and pleading, but eventually my mom called the number on this flyer and asked about a million questions to Justin and his parents, who were arranging the trip. After my mom learned that we would have plenty of safety, supervision, etc., she finally agreed that I could go if I would get a job to pay for the expense of the trip. So, I began carrying out groceries at Baker's Supermarket and saving my paychecks!
I spent the next few months busy with school, running, friends, working, and obsessing over photos of the clear, turquoise water with white sand and colorful fish that I would see in the Bahamas. During the preparations for the Bahamas trip, I did meet Justin in person a couple of times. The first time was at a planning meeting on the UNO campus. The other time was at a fundraising car wash.
Finally, it was time to go on the trip. The week was everything I expected it to be, and more. The group of guys and girls was a great mix of personalities. We all chipped in with the work and learned how to sail from the captain of our ship named Captain Gino. His ship was called the Lion's Paw and she was his baby. We toured the island of Great Abaco, Bahamas by bicycle. We ate conch fritters and grouper burgers (pronounced "groupah buh-gahs" in Bahamian). We fished off the side of the ship, snorkeled, swam, and played on the white sand beaches.
One night was particularly memorable. We convinced Captain Gino to let us sleep on an uninhabited beach on Great Guana Cay. We had a campfire, told stories, and slept under the stars. Justin and I stayed awake talking after the others had fallen asleep. We decided to build some sand sculptures, so we built a Mickey Mouse and a starfish by the light of the moon. I would have kissed him, but Justin didn't try to make any "moves". I know now that he was super shy, but back then, I thought maybe he didn't like me in "that way", maybe more of a friend. I was actually pretty impressed that he didn't try any Don Juan stuff. That made him very different from the other guys I knew.
When we returned from the trip, Justin and I kept finding ways to keep calling each other or getting together. I was dating a guy at my school who was super nice, but I kept thinking about Justin. I finally broke it off with the other guy and decided to ask Justin to my Junior Prom. He said he would go and also asked me if I would go to his Senior prom. Our proms were on the same weekend, mine was Friday and Justin's was Saturday. It was such a culture shock for both of us to experience the other person's prom. I attended a fairly large high school with nearly 500 students in my class. Justin was from a very small town with about 30 students in his class. My prom was in a rented facility, with a fancy DJ, disco ball, strobe lights, etc. Boyz II Men was the popular music that night. Fast forward to the next evening, in Justin's hometown. The parents lined up to see all the couples walk into the high school gymnasium. There was a live band called On the Fritz. They played a mixture of hair band music and rock. There were door prizes, the teachers hung out with us, and us girls kicked our shoes off. We definitely had the best of both worlds that weekend!
From this point on, we dated pretty much every weekend Justin's parents would let him drive the hour and a half to my house. After Justin graduated from high school, he decided to go to Creighton University in Omaha, NE. A year later, when I graduated from high school, I decided to attend the Unvierstiy of Nebraska at Omaha in order to stay close to where Justin was. Our college years were spent studying, working, and traveling, but we always found time for each other. One regret I have is that Justin turned down an opportunity to do a college internship program at Walt Disney World, one of his favorite places. He would only go if I went, and I didn't want to quit my job at Hyatt in order to go for the summer. But, who knows, maybe he will get to work there someday!
We got married on July 11, 1998, my senior year in college. The first year or so of marriage was rough. We were both young, naive, and inexperienced with life in general (like many young adults in their early twenties, I'm sure). This wasn't the Bahamas, Hawaii, or Prom Weekend. This was work, rent, bills, laundry, decisions about careers - ick!!! There were some other issues that I won't go into. We don't dwell on the difficult times, but will always be part of our story in some way. At some point we decided to be on each other's team and cheer for each other. Things started to work better when we thought of it that way. We've made it almost 14 years. I feel so blessed to have this life with Justin, our two boys, and our doggy and kitty!