I can remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was September of 1986, I was 15 years old, it was my sophomore year in high school. I was walking to math class when I saw him. He was wearing Levi button fly jeans, a baby blue Nike t-shirt and yellow high top converse. I thought he had the cutest walk...he had a bounce to it. I asked my friend, Tamara if she knew his name...."Ashley" she told me. I must have looked at her funny cause she said, "really, that's his name." Wow I wasn't expecting that and I thought how cute...I like that name, Ashley. He must have heard us 'cause he turned around and made eye contact with me and smiled then winked. My heart skipped a beat. Maybe two.
After that moment he started coming around my locker and would twirl my hair and call me Madonna. (I was in that phase back then....dressed all crazy....different than everyone else.) He would only tease me or poke my side never really talk with me. Within this time he started dating my friend Pam....I was pissed because she knew I liked him. Although he dated Pam he continued to flirt with me. They broke up after only two weeks. (he later told me he dated her to get closer to me!) After they broke it off is when he actually started talking to me and holding a conversation and not just flirting. The first real conversation we had is when he told me his first name was John but everyone calls him Ashley....his middle name.
Homecoming was coming up that week and he asked me if I was going to go to the game. I had to work that night at TCBY but told him I would try to get off early. He said if I could get off early to meet him on the top bleacher of the stadium to the right of the concession stand. I begged and begged to get off early and they finally gave in. I had come to work prepared with a cute outfit to change into. I changed and walked over to the football field. Which by the way was about 2 miles from where I worked. I was so nervous walking up to that field. I hadn't had a "real" boyfriend before and I was imagining him asking me to be his girl. Maybe he would give me his ring. I spotted him immediately. I walked up to him and said, Hi, Ashley! And you know what he did....he shushed me!!! I was so mad. I just looked at him like seriously, you asked me to this game and then you shush me?!! I guess he could tell it bothered me cause he said, Oh, sorry I'm watching my friend Sean play. I thought of a million things to say in that moment and not one of them was pretty. All I could think of was I took off work for this? For him to be rude? To ignore me? To shush me?!!!! But, I thought he was cute, and I liked his personality, and the cute way he walked so I brushed it off and took a seat. I just sat there while he watched the rest of the game, we didn't say another word to each other until the game was over. Then I had all his attention. We went to the homecoming dance after the game. We hung around for about an hour then decided to drive around in his VW Beetle. We talked about our futures....what we wanted to be, where we wanted to go to college. We talked about family, friends and work. It was the best night! Obviously, one I've never forgotten. When he pulled onto my street to take me home I glanced at my watch, it was 11:45. We sat there for a moment just gazing into each others eyes. Then it happened, oh the butterflies were fluttering in my tummy, he asked me if he could kiss me....I didn't mouth a word....I guess my smile was yes enough. He leaned into me and kissed me.....my first real kiss! I was so nervous I said goodnight so fast and got out of the car. He yelled out, See ya later as I slammed the door.
I watched him turn the corner and as he did I let out a squeal of delight! I went in the house skipping with joy. I laid across my bed just giggling and hoping to see him the next day. My mom walked in and asked me how my night went. I told her that I just kissed the boy I was going to marry! That was October 3rd 1986!
Here we are 22 years later still together. We married 14 months after we met and had Meg 2 months later....I was only 16 years old! We decided to extend our family and had Tori 20 months after Meg. We did try for a 3rd child but was never successful.
This photo above Meg was 8 days old. This was the first time John got to meet her. He was in Tech School when she was born.
I was 4 months pregnant with Tori in this photo.
We beat all the odds that were against us being a young couple. A very young couple with a baby!!! I couldn't believe how many people were rude and would say horrible things like....It'll never last.....They don't know how to be parents.....They'll be divorced in a year...etcetera etcetera. Hurtful mean things!! Fortunately, My parents were very understanding and supportive!! Not once did they tell me we couldn't do it...they always said we could!! We celebrate this day more than our actual wedding anniversary (December 23rd) cause this is the day we fell in love with each other; the day we shared our hearts.
I believe being young parents helped us be better parents....we knew what to expect and we weren't shocked when things happened. We reacted differently to them then "older" parents would have. We knew when to be the parent and when to be the friend. We have always had the best relationship with our daughters. We have always been open and honest with them and they are the same way with us. I love it that they can call their Daddy or me and tell us secrets that most kids would only tell their best friends and would just die if their parents found out. Now that they are adults our relationship with them has become even stronger.
Above is a picture from this summer of our tattoos. We say 3 instead of I love you....cause of Oct. 3rd....we decided to get matching tattoos of our love.....John drew it up and we decided to put them on our ankles.
To my love, John Ashley....
Thank you for 22 amazing years. They weren't all easy but we learned from the mistakes we made and in return our marriage got stronger. Thank you for giving me two beautiful daughters...who we raised together to be beautiful strong women. I'm so thankful to God that we found each other at such an early age!! You are my soul mate!!! You still make my heart skip a beat and I still love the bounce in your step. I'm so happy to have grown up with you and happy to be growing old by your side. As always we will take it one heartbeat at a time. I love you. 3