August 1, 2013 was a good day, a really good day. I had just taken the bar exam the day before and this was the first day in two months that I could unrepentantly enjoy. Although I had my freedom, I didn’t quite know what to do with it. I felt like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption after he was released from prison. I knew I had to get out and do something or I would have a panic attack. Instead of staring at the walls all day, I decided to do things I don’t usually do. So I got in my truck and embarked on my divinely inspired path. My first stop was at the Toys R’ Us. My mind was still functioning at a higher than normal rate and I needed to be productive. I figured Legos would be a great way to provide the requisite stimulation. I purchased a Millennium Falcon Lego set. It looked like it was the most challenging and, being a Star Wars nerd and all, the most fun. After Toys R’ Us, I met up with Tyler Bowland at Chili’s. We sat at the bar and enjoyed chips and salsa. He made fun of me for being pale and buying Legos but I didn’t care. It was nice to talk to someone who didn’t want go over negligence factors or secured transactions. I left Chili’s, but didn’t really have a plan. I didn’t want to go home and let this little adventure end. All of a sudden, and for reasons I can only surmise were divine, I wanted to buy a comic book. I had never read a comic book before and never had the urge to before that moment. The only comic shop I had ever been to was Snake Eyes Comics. One of the owners, Jonathan Beckner, graduated with Jacob, Joe, Bo, and Tyler. Before August 1, I had gone in there two times before with Jacob to show support for Jonathan’s startup. The first time was on their grand opening, and the second was during an event called Free Comic Book Day (which has become my third favorite day of the year). I walked into Snake Eyes comics that afternoon to see Jonathan, affectionately known as “Jingles,” Jingle-pants,” and “Jbeck,” sitting behind the counter. “Ah Mr. Hardin, what brings you here today.” I told him I wanted to read a comic but have no clue where to start. I told him, however, that I liked the Hulk. He pulled a trade paper back (a compilation of single issue comics) of The Incredible Hulk by Jason Aaron. The cover and art looked really cool so I settled on that one. As I was checking out, Jbeck told me that he, Jacob, and “a friend” were going to Anaba that night to get sushi and said that I should join. I told him that I would think about it and let him know. After checking out, I drove home with the day’s treasures and a plan to watch Star Wars: A New Hope and build my Millennium Falcon. Later that afternoon, while deep into Star Wars and my Legos, I get a text from Jacob telling me that I should join them for sushi. At the time I didn’t really want to. I had become invested in this Lego project and was content watching Star Wars for the rest of the evening. 10 times out of 10, I would have said no and continued sitting there. I have a hermit-like personality, especially when I am content on the couch. I have ditched numerous outings for watching movies at home. However, I begrudgingly got into my truck and began driving. It was almost like the Lord was pulling puppet strings. I remember really not wanting to go, but my body was not complying. I pulled up to Anaba to see Jbeck sitting on a brick ledge outside the restaurant. I asked him what the hell he was doing and he said he was waiting on this friend. He explained that she was from Atlanta and that she didn’t know her way around Knoxville yet. I told him that she’s fine, quit looking like a weirdo, come sit with me, and we’ll wait on this mystery girl inside. I asked Jbeck about this person he was waiting on. He said she had just moved here from Atlanta for a job. She was really into comics and had come into the shop a few times. Because she didn’t know anyone, he invited her to meet his friends. Now you have to imagine the image I had built in my mind of this girl… This she is a friendless comic book nerd with a career in software. At this point I figured I needed to go ahead a place my order because elephant-girl with her gut hanging out of her Avengers t-shirt is going to eat all the food. (Yes I stereotyped, get over it. Go to Comic-Con and find 5 girls that look like Kristina, then I’ll apologize). As I’m talking to Jbeck, a 5’0, 96-pounder with wedges, blond hair and a sundress walks around the corner and sits down at our table. ‘Are you lost’ I thought. ‘This guy owns a comic store and I just built some Legos… I don’t think “these are the droids your looking for.”’ (Star Wars reference for those of you who have never heard of movies). “Hey Kristina. Kristina this is Bryce, Bryce this is Kristina” Jbeck proclaimed. “Hi” the mystery girl responds. Now I begin to extrapolate that this is the she we’ve been waiting for and, little did I know, the she I have been waiting for all my life. Fast forward to October 9, 2015. The girl who walked around the corner in her sundress will walk around another corner and down the aisle in a wedding dress. It’s funny how the Lord works sometimes. You read and watch these dramatized chance encounters, but when you live one, it’s truly an amazing thing to reminisce. Any other day in the life of Bryce Hardin there would be no comic book stores or pausing a movie to eat with friends. I’m so thankful for that comic book shop and sushi restaurant. It gave me a life I would have never experienced, especially with any other girl. I get to go to Teavanna, get bubble tea from the Sunrise Asian Market, shop for antiques, watch animated comic book movies, and enjoy countless other new things. I gained the ultimate best friend and I can’t wait for you all to join us on October 9, 2015 as she becomes my wife.