Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How I Fell in Love with Chris...

***Originally written as a guest post***

Hello, hello!

My name is Ashton and I blog over at Something Swanky Desserts and Designs.
I've been blogging about desserts for over a year, and I started designing blogs just two months ago!
I love doing both, because I'm obsessed with all things blogging-- so imagine how happy I was to discover that my next door neighbor was a blogger too!

Yeah. Mackenzie and I are next door neighbors :) It's awesome.
And we've both got cutie-pa-tuties that are about the same age.
Which is just even more awesome.

As much as I love Mackenzie and Friday Night Date Night, 
I must admit that I was not overwhelmed with excitement when asked if I wanted to guest post.
Don't get me wrong-- it's an absolute honor to appear on FNDN!!
It's just.... all this mushy-gushy love stuff.
It's not me. I don't do that.
which is what make this post so painful for me to write---
my husband and I have the cheesiest, mushiest, gushiest love story of them all.

It's gross.

But here I am anyway, and you're looking for a love story.
So we might as well get this over with... yuck.

You should really know-- this is gonna be lengthy. Lots of little details here.
I wish I could pare it down a little, but most of them are kind of important to the storyline.
You've been warned.

I met my now-husband, Chris, in May 2004. He was serving a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I'm going to give a little background information for those of you who aren't LDS (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

In our church, young men ages 19-25 spend two years teaching the gospel to people. 
They can be asked to serve anywhere in the world-- and they don't generally get to pick.

Once there, they are asked to completely dedicate themselves to the gospel and spreading our message.
This means-- they don't communicate with the folks back home except through snail mail and emails once a week, they don't watch TV, they don't participate in social activities (outside of church functions), and they certainly don't date!
And this is what makes our story so unusual. 
You don't meet your wife on your mission.
(most of the time ;)

Ok, back to the story.

From the moment I laid eyes on Chris, I had a heavens-opening-angels-singing-pit-in-my-stomach kind of crush on him.
Oh my gosh. He was so ca-UTE! 

But missionaries are off limits. 
(And besides that-- he didn't reciprocate. Apparently he had a girlfriend. Technicality.)
And despite my gigantic crush, and my 17-year-old-boy-crazy mind--
I kept it all to myself and nothing happened.

Well.. almost nothing.

There were brief conversations in the hallway, frequent smiles, and the occasional (gasp) eye contact across a crowded room at church.

Silly stuff, really. But enough to fuel my somewhat-successfully hidden crush.
(not that it takes much when you're 17)

Then came our last Sunday together in my hometown.
He was being transferred to a new town, and I was moving to Provo, UT for college.

He asked to take a picture with me (which is customary for missionaries to do when leaving an area-- to take a picture with people they've especially connected with).
(this is the picture-- Chris is in the middle. 
Uh... we grabbed that other kid to make the picture a little less awkward-- 
and instead made it the most awkward picture ever)

And then,
"I'm going to need your email address to send you this picture," he said.

And that's how it happened. We exchanged email addresses, and soon enough we began writing actual letters to each other every week.

The next 18 months passed pretty quickly.
We continued to live our lives 2,000 miles apart, each doing very different things in our lives.

Chris was proselyting day in and day out (and at some point, letters from the afore mentioned girlfriend stopped coming), while I was living the life of a single gal out at college!

(this was my childhood home-- I thought it was pretty cool that he got a picture here!)

As the weeks passed, the letters continued to come.
Sometimes we even recorded cassette tapes for each other to listen too.
That felt more like we were having a conversation. And I loved hearing his voice.

We only ever talked about silly, mundane, day-to-day things. 
Nothing romantic, nothing that screamed you are my soulmate.
Sometimes I sent him silly packages and cards. This one was my favorite:
And, impossible as it may seem, we learned a lot about each other. 
I learned how he handled daily frustrations, how he liked to spend his time, who was important to him, why he decided to serve a mission, and what he was looking for in life after his mission.
We never said I love you-- we never even said I like you more than normal!
But that's what I read in every sentence he wrote, and it didn't take long for me to fall completely in love through these letters and cassette tapes.
A pivotal point for us came in December 2004. 
I was in a serious car accident with two of my brothers. It was pretty ugly.
And I remember distinctly, as my brothers and I lay on the side of the road, waiting for the ambulance to come, thinking, "I wish Chris was here." I knew he would be a comfort to me at such a difficult time. I emailed him as soon as I could to let him know about the accident and that were were all going to be ok.

(me with some of my siblings, Christmas 2004, just a couple of days before the accident happened)

I don't even remember what he wrote back. I'm sure it was kind and comforting. What really stuck with me was that I had thought of him at all in such a chaotic moment. When he should have been the last thing on my mind-- he was the first. And that's when I knew. And I think that's the experience that really made it stick for him too.

He came home a year after that accident.
His family lived in California, so he made a special 3-day trip to Utah to see me.
By the end of those three days, we had established ourselves as dating each other exclusively, said "I love you," and planned on getting married by the end of the year.
Oh- and we got my first kiss out of the way.
Chris is the only guy I've ever kissed.
--which was totally not my plan (just if you were wondering), but that's how it worked out, and it's kind of special that way :)

(after our first date)

Chris moved to the east coast for a job offer, and I stayed in Utah for the rest of the semester.
In March I flew out to NC, where he was living, and got engaged.

I'm going to gloss over that bit of the story, if you don't mind.
None of you need to hear how I completely botched his proposal by impatiently demanding the ring once I knew he had it that story.
 (the day after we got engaged)

(our-- framed, sorry-- engagement photo)

We were married that summer (7 months after he got home from his mission), and it will be 6 years for us in July. We have a beautiful and active daughter-- she's fantastic!

(ugh- excuse the just-had-a-baby swollen face)

We're very happily married and love our little family to bits.

And I'm so glad this post is over. Whew!

Thanks so much for reading to the end!

And thanks to Mackenzie for hosting me on her wonderful blog!
Life is all about love and family, and that's what this blog is all about.
Thanks Mackenzie for putting that out in the blog world!
And when you're done reading all the ooey-gooey love stories and date ideas over here, swing by Something Swanky for dessert. And I'll tell you all about my other great love-- chocolate :)


Miss Ashley said...

Literally felt like I was living in 2004 all over again and reading "Ashton E. Swank" written on anything that wasn't moving. LOVED reading this. And good pics!

Shanna said...

You missed the part where you ripped the mailbox off the side of our brick apartment and kept it =)) that's my favorite part of the story!!! This was so fun to read. The days that we all had missionaries out so we didn't care about current boys and just had lockdowns with each other were the best ever. P2 baby.

Beth said...

awwww....boy, reading this really brings back memories of your high school days. Sarah and you were as thick as thieves. Little did I know you were corresponding with Chris!! How could I have not known???? Great story:)

Sarah said...

OMG... I dont know which I loved more - your oh-so-adorable love story or your attitude about it. :) You are my favorite. PS- I am pretty sure that I took that picture of you and Chris in front of th church. Gotta love those long aimless walks down the hall with you so that you could gatch a glimpse of him. Hehe...
PSx2 - Ryan just told me that there was a Ryan Street here and asked me why I didn't get a picture in front of that for him. Baha!! :)