My first memory of Justin is from May 2013 at the auditions for Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5: The Musical just south of Nashville in Franklin, TN at Pull-Tight Players Theatre. We were auditioning for the same role, Joe – the hunky accountant and Violet’s love interest. He ultimately got the part and I was cast as another role in the show. Boy was I mad, but only at first. Well, I wasn’t really mad, but jealous. I thought to myself, “Who is this guy coming in stealing my part of the cute office accountant slated to sing the gorgeous romantic ballad duet in Act 2?” I soon found out that he was also the producer of the musical. MmmmmHmmmm!?! I was suspicious of a rigged audition. Later, I found out he actually turned down auditioning at first, but was asked by the director to audition anyway. It was meant to be.
Act 1: The Show
Vocal rehearsals started and I quickly saw why he got the part. It was because he WAS the part. He sang it beautifully and added so much depth, charm, and stinkin’ cuteness to the role and it made me want to know him better. Then came the dancing…“five, six, seven, eight and turn.” Well, he sings pretty, but let’s just say I’m the dancer between us. I volunteered to help him and others with some extra choreography rehearsals at my house. His frustration, but dedication, with the dances was a joy to watch and that’s when I first noticed him, I mean actually noticed HIM for who he was. Justin was dating someone else at the time so we just became friends – which at the time, was what I wanted. The whole cast became a little family. We worked together, played together and after almost three months of rehearsals and 9 performances full of music and memories, we closed the show.
Act 2: The Beginning
The show ended but that’s when WE really began. I so enjoyed getting to know Justin and felt drawn to him. I liked talking to him and we bonded over our love of live performing arts and our shared faith. After the show closed, Justin asked me if I would like to go see the Nashville Symphony play the score of West Side Story while watching the movie. I knew he had ended his previous relationship and I said that I would go, but only if it was a date (winky face). A week before seeing West Side Story, we decided to have an official first date. On August 30, 2014, we had dinner at Josephine in 12 South, followed by dessert at City House. I was instantly comfortable with Justin because we already shared such a great friendship. It felt very easy and relaxed, like home. We had such a wonderful time at dinner that we decided to continue the evening across town at City House. I remember it was raining that night and we had to run from his car into the restaurant under one umbrella. We sat at the bar for dessert and drinks – a bit soggy, but happy. Afterwards, we ended up sitting in his car for what felt like hours listening to music (I specifically remember a lot of Sara Bareilles) just talking - and again, it felt like home. I learned about Spotify for the first time. The following week, after Justin taught me how to actually use Spotify, we both made each other playlists full of our favorite songs...among the list was the “Singing In the Rain / Umbrella” mash up from Glee. Ironic? I think not. We were clearly meant for each other.
Act 3: Mix Tape
To be continued...