This is going to be the first chapter of a story that is of online forums, newsletters, election campaigns, skype chats, lightsabers, and photographs of rabbits. Yes. That’s how this whole crazy, wonderful, marvelous thing began and how I met the wisest, geekiest, most impossible, ukulele-playing, God-honoring, Christ-following guy who has turned out to be my best friend. It’s a unique story and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
March 9, 2011 at 11:53pm; Pacific Standard Time. I was a sixteen-year-old girl who had just enrolled in an college coaching program and had received her log in information to join the online forum of other students. I was insecure and still adjusting to life after we adopted my sister and I was craving academic challenges and social interaction. It was the perfect storm to throw an online forum account into. Like seriously. So, there I was. Sitting on the floor of my bedroom, attempting not to wake my sisters up, as I wrote up a little bio about myself and posted it. No big deal, right?
18 days later.
March 27, 2011 at 7:42pm PST. “Austin -Saber- Harrison” replied to my introduction and commented on a photo I had posted of my pet rabbit, Pipkin. The name is relevant; I promise.
“What a great name for a rabbit. 8-) those are great pictures.
Oh, and welcome btw… :)”
See. I told you the rabbit’s name was relevant. Well, at least somewhat. Anyway, I digress.
I replied to his post in typical online fashion, overly friendly and yet perfectly generic and eternally thankful for the welcome and the fact that he liked my photo. I was meeting so many new people through the realm of CollegePlus that I didn’t give a second thought to the 18-year-old boy from Illinois.
…Well, at least not until I discovered the fact that he builds lightsabers like a real honest-to-goodness real-world Jedi Knight. I still remember the conversation I had with my brother, Connor.
“Hey, you know those CollegePlus forums I was telling you about?”
“Well, there’s this guy who builds lightsabers. Like real, awesome, legit ones.”
Connor just about demanded that I send him photographs so I stalked Austin’s thread and found photos and Youtube videos of the sabers he had made. To a girl who is a massive Star Wars geek, Austin had just won major coolness points.
In the midst of my stalking, I found his post of confessions that he had written in October 2010. It wasn’t long and it listed typical and normal things, like a dislike for twinkies and a fear of glitter. However, one thing piqued my interest. He wrote;
“Austin is not my first name.”
Huh. Wonder what it is? And that was it. My wondering ceased.
Fast-forward a few months later to July 2011. I was making new friends, had ingested a two tablespoons of cinnamon, was listening to Owl City’s latest album on repeat, and was studying like a maniac to take the College Composition and American Literature exams on the same day to bring me up from Freshman status into Sophomore. Yes, it was crazy. Oh, and to top it all off, I was working with a few other students to start a newsletter for the online forums. Well, originally I was just helping, but before it was officially underway, I was running it and had been promoted to Editor-in-Chief. Still not quite sure how that happened. Anyway, what’s important about all of this is that a certain guy named Austin Harrison (he’s kinda going to be a recurring theme in this narrative, just in case you were wondering) had volunteered to format the monthly newsletter and upload it to a site online for us.
Our paths kept crossing in little ways in the year that followed. Nothing significant. He was just one of my fellow students. An associate. Not even a friend. He was “that guy,” you know, the one who builds lightsabers and quotes movies and whose profile picture is one of Captain Jack Sparrow. I respected him and, to be honest, I was intrigued by him. I was intrigued by the way he wrote; with confidence and maturity. I was fascinated by the way he lived in the world and yet was not of the world and how he strove to take every thought captive for the honor of Christ. I noticed how he stuck to his principals, but wasn’t legalistic. I admired how everyone else seemed to respect him too. I had noticed that we had similar interests (example: star wars, and pixar, and intelligent conversations, and Jesus) and I wanted to be able to call him friend, but he wasn’t like the rest of the students I was getting to know. He was more reserved and distant and wasn’t actively seeking friendships the way that others were. In Februrary 2012, I was elected as a “Ranger” on the forums (a kind of “junior moderator,” if you will) and became part of the birth of a brand new program that Austin envisioned, initiated, founded, and directed. And I can’t forget that once a month I’d still email him the PDF of the newsletter and he’d publish it. No big deal. Until…by