In Front of the Fire

Some of my favorite moments in my relationship with Ashley on a daily basis are the times when we are able to simply be together. No agenda, no project, only us.

I do not have a lot of memories from the early years of our marriage. My head was not in the right place and I rarely was in the moment. I was always looking for the next stage, the next job, school being done, our kids being a year older, etc. But, there is a moment I remember fondly.

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Friday the 13th

I used to be superstitious about Friday the 13th…

This is me in the courtyard just a few moments before our conversation. Tim is behind me. Feb. 13th, 2004

This is me in the courtyard just a few moments before our conversation. Tim is behind me. Feb. 13th, 2004

On Friday the 13th in February 2004, it was Decade Day at school. You and I coordinated to go as a 50’s couple. I had a poodle skirt and black t-shirt with my hair pulled up into a high ponytail. You wore a white t-shirt, jeans and a black leather jacket. Someone snapped a photo of me as we were hanging out in the courtyard to eat lunch. At some point as I sat eating with our friends, you came over and touched my arm and said, “Hey can I talk to you for a minute?” Immediately, I got flashbacks of freshman year when you had turned down Cait, and thought, “Crap. He is going to have the talk with me about how flattered he is that I was interested, but he didn’t like me in that way.” My face felt cold as I followed you over by the fountain. You propped your leg up and leaned back against a pillar, and I felt like I was going to throw up.

The day before, I’d been at the library during lunch talking to your friend Adam about you. You had been so hot/cold. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Some days you had been super flirty, so sweet and attentive, I was getting my hopes up again. Then the next day, it seemed like you barely noticed my existence. I was getting whiplash. So like the mature grown-up person that I was, I asked Adam to talk to you for me and see what was going on. He said he would talk to you later that day after school. I spent the rest of that day trying to focus on classes and then cheer practice, and then homework. The next day was Decade Day, and we had agreed to match, but... you would have done that with anyone, right? Or did it mean something?? I wanted an answer, but I was afraid of what it would be. I prepared myself for a “no” and immediately regretted asking Adam to talk to you. I felt that no answer and just going on as we were would still be better than “no.” You felt so far out of my league, I had little hope.

“I have feelings for you, and was wondering what you would think about the possibility of us dating because I would like to explore having a relationship with you and see where it goes.” - You

I felt dizzy and in disbelief. This kid I had spent the last year and a half pining over, was standing there telling me everything I wanted to hear. I probably grinned like a lunatic. But then I panicked. “What if we dated, then he found someone better, broke up with me and then I had lost him both as a boyfriend and a friend?” Over the course of that year, I had really grown to appreciate our friendship and didn’t want to lose that. So I said, “I like you too. Um, but I want to think about this.” You were calm, cool and collected and I tried my best to mirror you. Didn’t want to scare you away. I saved the squealing and screaming until I was safely in the car with my mom on the way home from school.

When I got home, with shaking hands I sat down at the computer, I made the decision to tell you how I felt. I don’t remember everything I said in the email, but basically I told you I was tired of high school relationships and getting my heart broken. I didn’t know if I wanted to date at the moment because I wanted the next person I dated to be “The One.” I hit “send” and immediately wanted to take it back. What was I thinking?? I had just screwed this up. I knew you were going to be like, “Woah girl, I just wanted to date you- not marry you.” But I liked you so much and valued our friendship so much, that I chose to give you an out so that we could stay friends and I wouldn’t lose you. I think I checked my email every 2 minutes the rest of the afternoon. Finally, just before dinnertime, the Juno email loading bar paused at 97%, which means I had gotten an email. It was from you. I opened it, afraid to read it. I scanned it quickly looking for words like, “crazy” or “nevermind.” Instead, I found 5 words that cemented the way I would forever feel about you, “I will wait for you.”

-ASH

Getting To Know You...

I knew Ashley from track Sophomore year but I started getting to know her more in other places. The more I discovered about her, the more I became attracted to her.

This was Ash, just before junior year

This was Ash, just before junior year

We had a project in geometry together once. I went to her house to work on the project and I ended up staying for dinner. I got to meet her parents and her sisters for the first time. They were kind and welcoming.

We were in a church youth group together and went on a mission trip to Mexicali. I started to see Ashley’s heart for the poor and the needy. We danced next to each other in a “human video,” which was an early 2000s church thing. I remember dancing and laughing together, even though dancing in public was not my thing, I think I impressed her with my moves.

We started talking more. Junior year we had all of the same classes together. We always paired up in Forensics class solving mock crimes. She laughed at me because I could not figure out how to prick my finger to test my blood type. I kept poking the wrong part of my finger but I did not want to show how much it hurt because she poked her finger with ease and I did not want to get shown up. Finally she must have felt bad for me so she showed me where to poke on my finger to get enough blood.

I let her borrow my sweatshirt when she was cold. Pro tip: I would spray the inside of my sweatshirt before going to school with Axe Body spray, anticipating that I would let a girl borrow it when they were cold. That way when they put on the sweatshirt it would smell good.

Ash pictured here with her sisters, junior year

Ash pictured here with her sisters, junior year

When I look back at our classes together, we always seemed to be close by one another. She is beautiful physically, but what also attracted me to her was her compassion. She was friends with everyone, especially the kids that would have been considered outcasts in high school. I never heard her say a harsh word about anyone. I was safe with my preppy jock group and I did not venture far outside of that. She was adventurous and befriended whoever needed a friend. She did not judge, but took people as they were. She loved people better than I did. As an insecure high school kid, I think I knew that she would like/love me for who I was and that I did not have to be something I was not. I was what I think a lot of boys in high school want to be. I was smart, good looking, starter on the basketball team, and popular. But those things were not who I really was. I knew that Ashley would like me, even if I did not have all of those other things, and that is what drew me to her the most.

All of those things led to a conversation we had on Friday, February 13 that shaped the future of our relationship.

-Tim

I looked into the crowd & found Ashley...

I’m all the way to the right, #33

I’m all the way to the right, #33

My senior year in high school it became a thing that every time I made a free throw during a basketball game I looked into the crowd, found Ashley and winked at her. I do not know how it became a thing or when I started doing it, but it ended up being a memorable event for Ash and I.

I tend to be a private individual. Shocking as that may be given that Ash and I are now putting our life out in public. But that is not my natural bent. Ash feels more comfortable in public. She thrives off of being around others. Ash loves theater and being on stage performing. I used to feel uncomfortable expressing public affection to Ash. Quite frankly, I do not know how I started the wink thing, given the fact that for that moment, Ash and I’s relationship was on public display. My friends on the basketball team gave me a hard time and my coach would shake his head. But I think the fans found it endearing and Ash loved it.

You can see a clip of this below.

As Ash and I have gone through our relationship, I realized that she enjoys it when I acknowledge our love and her publicly. I am just fine with telling Ash Happy Anniversary or Happy Birthday in private and giving her a homemade card. She enjoys those things, but I also know that she enjoys it when I acknowledge her publicly. As result, I make an effort to do so. I will go on Facebook and write on her timeline or tag her in a post, even though I do not usually post on social media.

Often times, the way that your partner feels most loved is different than yours. You must be mindful of the way your partner feels loved and move outside of your comfort zone to love them in that way, even if it may make you feel uncomfortable.

The basketball wink is one of my fondest memories in high school. My love for Ash overcame my uneasiness of putting our relationship on display and I’m so glad we can look back and remember those moments.

-Tim


The First Time I Saw You -Ash

I remember the first time I saw you.

It was freshman year in highschool and we were on a field trip to GCU. You and your friends were playing frisbee on the lawn and this girl Cait who had a crush on you at the time was remarkably how cute you were and pointing you out to us girls. I remember thinking you were really cute. Then at some point later on she sat you down at lunch and asked you out. You turned her down. I remember thinking, “Who turns Cait down? She's one of the prettiest girls in school.” And suddenly, you were super intimidating to me.

Sophomore year, I remember being so excited on the first day of school when you showed up in every single class I was in. I would just sit and stare at you all during class. I would sit and think, “I'm going to marry that boy.” I had it all planned out. Your dad, I found out, was a military chaplain so that was perfect. He could marry us in his uniform. As I sat observing, I began to notice you paid a lot of attention to this other girl, Bekah. You guys were just friends, but I could tell you liked her a lot.

We weren't really even friends at that point and I sent my best friend, Jess over to ask you what you thought of me. You told her you didn't like me “like that” but thought I was a cool girl.

Never ask questions you don't want the answer to.

I wanted to cry. Pretty soon thereafter, you started really hanging out with this girl, Liz. She was pretty, blond and super athletic. I felt like she was the opposite of what I was and that's what you wanted.  My heart hurt. I wondered if maybe being around you more, you would finally see the light and develop a crush on me, so I decided to join the youth group at the church where you and a few of our friends went. On my first night there, they announced the missions trip to Mexico and asked who would be interested in going. I shot up my hand thinking maybe you would be impressed by me volunteering to go.

You didn't even notice. But you did go on the trip, and I was so excited to get to spend some time with you without Liz there. On the drive down in a van full of girls, I remember sitting in the back listening to, “Stand By Me” I cried quietly to myself feeling very hopeless that we would ever be together. I begin to wonder if I should date someone else or move on. But no one else interested me.

In Mexico, we talked more and I felt like we were becoming friends. I knew I shouldn't get my hopes up, but you let me borrow your sweatshirt when I was cold one night. It smelled so good (Old Spice Pure Sport) and I thought, “Okay, maybe he likes me?” But no, you were just being a good guy and a gentleman. I still held onto a small shred of hope after that trip, but then track season started.

I joined because you and Liz were joining and I wanted to keep tabs and maybe impress you with my skills. In track, you just ran- how hard could it be??

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Sadly, not being a runner, I was terrible. Like really bad. So any hope of trying to get your attention pretty much died. Although one day, my knee gave out during practice and you carried me back to the school. You were strong and I was so smitten. One practice we had at Mesa community college, my grandparents came to watch and afterward we went out to lunch at Burger King. My mom had pointed you out to Momo and she remarked to me at lunch how handsome you were and said she had a feeling things would work out. My heart sank and I try not to cry because at that point, I had truly given up on that. I felt like I had lost you, which was weird because it wasn't even like we had dated. I was done though, my friend Jess had encouraged me to move on. You just weren’t the right one. So I did. And that was how sophomore year ended… little did I know, things were about to get serious. But not with you.

-Ash

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