As the historian of the relationship, it's only appropriate that I, Ashley, tell this story.
Cliff Notes Version: We met spring semester senior year of college, started dating long distance between Missouri and D.C., moved to Hawaii a year and a half later, and now are getting married!
Now, the Extended Version:
Classic cliche, we actually met on Valentine's Day 2014, but prior to meeting it was early into senior year of college when a Chi Omega friend, Paige, first told me about her boyfriend's (now fiance, hi KJ!) friend, Billy. She thought we'd really hit it off and we agreed I'd let her know if I needed a date for a date function or what not.
*Before posting this, I texted Paige to make sure I wasn't making this story up and accidentally mixing Billy's name into the conversation. She did confirm remembering telling me we'd make a "perfect match"!*
Time passed, we never met. UNTIL Paige and KJ had a group meet up at KJ's apartment before going to midtown for Valentine's Day. We both remember this particular "pre-game" being pretty lame (haha, sorry guys). On top of that, we barely even exchanged two words with each other, so probably can't call it love at first sight, but here we are. After then recognizing each other out a little more frequently and actually talking to each other, I'd say we hit it off (or I obviously left some sort of impression). I ended up bringing Billy as my date on our sorority senior formal event. However, Billy knew he was moving to Missouri to start his career in May and starting a relationship at that point would've inevitably ended up with long distance and/or breaking up.
Fast forward to June, Billy's in Missouri, I just found out I was moving to Boston to complete my internship to graduate, and we started talking again occasionally. Mostly just catching up and figuring out which Gator games we'd both be attending that fall, you know, the normal stuff. Well, this went on for over a year and I had had enough.
For anyone who knows me, once I graduated from college I was likely on a plane 3 out of 4 weekends a month. After collecting an appropriate amount of points, I threatened and then followed through with going to visit Billy in Missouri to really just figure this whole thing out. I knew I liked him but if it wasn't going to turn into anything, it was time to shut it down (Jon Taffer reference for you "Bar Rescue" fans out there).
Of course, I get to Cape Girardeau, meet some of Billy's friends, go out, am taken to the infamous local Mexican restaurant (view Michael & Zach's bios for more info) and overall just have a great weekend, making things THAT MORE DIFFICULT. Before I even landed back in St. Louis (45 minute puddle jumper flight from Cape Girardeau) Billy had started texting me about New Years. Hesitant to keep this unknown going, I was sure I still wanted to see him again, so I told him okay.
A week later, the Gators were deemed SEC East Champions and were heading to the 2015 SEC Championship. I had just gotten back to Virginia from Jacksonville where I saw Florida beat Georgia (an infrequent experience as of late) and Billy texts me to call him about an "idea" he had. I give him a call and of course his first words are, "can you call me back, I'm in the middle of eating a burrito." He's such a romantic. Insisting I couldn't call back later, the burrito was put down and in conclusion I was going to the SEC Championship with my "boyfriend."
November 2015 through May 2017 consisted of a ton of Facetimes (thank goodness for modern technology) and traveling between Missouri, D.C., Gator football games (although we still have never been to a game together in the Swamp), and friends' weddings. Long distance was tough, but we got the hang of it! The plan was wherever Billy's job took him next, I was going to move to the same place. Thus transpired another phone call I'll never forget. It was about 8:00am end of March, I was in Destin helping out my mom who had just had spine surgery, when Billy called, "Well, we're moving to Hawaii!" Billy says he thinks he blacked out during that whole morning because it was just such a shock!
Want to know if a relationship will work? Move to an island of less than 8,000 people in the middle of the Pacific Ocean knowing absolutely no one else and you will certainly find out! Billy moved out to Molokai, HI end of May 2017, I followed mid-July. The whole move actually went way better than either of us expected which was good because there aren't a whole lot of places to escape to on the 38 x 10 mile island.
In case no one realized, Hawaii....pretty dang far from the East Coast where most of our family and friends live! Fortunately, with my job being online, I've been able to go home for a month or so at a time. I spent December 2017 in Florida and then the following April I traveled around the mainland to see family and friends.
Before moving to Hawaii, I knew we weren't ready to get married. We had never even lived in the same state while dating and we were so unsure how this HUGE move was going to pan out. But, once I got to Molokai and everything just fell in place so perfectly, they say you'll know when you know, well I knew and I started getting anxious. I knew I wanted to marry Billy and it was as simple as that. Billy kept reiterating the plan of ring shopping after his MBA graduation. SO I WAS SUPPOSED TO WAIT UNTIL AFTER DECEMBER 2018?!?!
During my April mainland travels, Billy also had to come to the mainland for work and school, so we got to see each other in Gainesville, FL. Little did I know, right before that trip, Billy had picked out a ring with his mom and plans were set in place to pick it up in August when he knew he'd be back in Florida for more MBA exams.
Whether I was getting annoying talking about an engagement or Billy was actually too excited to keep in such a big secret like he says, he decided to get the ring sent to Hawaii because picking it up in August was way too far away.
Billy flew back to Florida for the weekend (if that doesn't make him the absolute best...24+ hours of traveling for less than 48 hours in Florida to be my date) where I was wrapping up my April travels with my Chi Omega "Big Sister," Claire's wedding. I caught her bouquet then feeling bad for the other ladies because if the tradition held true and I was the next person to get engaged, they'd be waiting until at least December!
We got back to Molokai and I was excited to spend my birthday with Billy for the first time in the two and a half years we had been together, just 4 days later! My mom LOVES birthdays (or really any excuse to get a cake), but I grew up loving birthday celebrations! So, I kept pressuring Billy to come up with SOMETHING as a surprise (options are limited for the surprise element in Molokai). He told me to be ready by 3:30pm which I was, even with Billy pacing the condo like a mad man.
We got in the car, turned the opposite way from where dinner would be and headed to the beach. He told me he knew I liked walking on the beach, so he wanted to take a little walk. Mind you, it also started sprinkling so I wanted to say we could just forget about it before I melted away, but I had been so insistent with him coming up with something special to do for my birthday, I couldn't tell him never mind!
We're walking, talking about our time in Hawaii, life, all that cheesy stuff and we ran into a Hawaiian Monk Seal! I love the Hawaiian Monk Seals, so Billy told me to stay there starring at it until he told me to turn around. At this point I'm thinking someone is going to pop out behind me, but when I turned around it was just Billy which is when I knew what was happening and naturally I started freaking out with excitement, not letting Billy finish saying anything before he got down on one knee!
10:15 PM - 2:00 AM