Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other,
but in looking outward together in the same direction.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
A year ago this weekend my awkward, awful-at-flirting, freshly-scorned self met a boy whose opening line was to compliment my drink in the middle of a very loud, crowded night club we had taken one of my best friends to for her birthday.
I can remember casting him my side eyes-always skeptical of any and all members of the male species in any room-and mumbling something about always drinking bottled beer when I go out because it was cheaper...and safer.
He did his best to make conversation with me over the loud music-his eyes never leaving my face.
I think that was the thing that struck me about him first-the feeling like he could really see me: Ashley.
In the middle of this crowded bar with probably a hundred other desperate girls in their trashiest dresses, he saw the girl in the blue jeans and a black tank top drinking Coors Light-bottled-and watching over purses while her friends danced.
I can remember him asking for my number as the girls came over ready to leave. I hurriedly typed it into his phone not realizing that I had forgotten the last number. I told him good night and stood to leave with my friends, and just as I was getting into my car. I heard him running up behind us. Chasing me down for that last number.
The finally digit that changed my life.
We talked a lot about that last digit this weekend.
About where we both would be if he wouldn't of come after me to get it.
About how different our lives would be now-a year later-without each other.
I've got to say, God has a way with timing.
My life has been whirlwind this past year.
A whirlwind of him and this new life we have quietly settled ourselves into.
I never would of pictured myself here a year ago, but I am so thankful that God has lead me down this path with this boy whose patience and selflessness floor me every single day.
He has held on through some of the roughest days of my life.
He alone has watched me navigate the deepest waters of who I was to who I am becoming. He has helped guide me through even the roughest of waters and all the moments when I have been anything but full of grace.
There have been a thousand times when I wouldn't of blamed him if he ran, and yet he's still here.
Loving me in spite of my mess.
Teaching me every single day what love truly looks like.
Reminding me daily that this is so much better than anything I've left behind.
So much better than anything I could ever deserve.
And that this is what forward looks like.
This is the type of forward I have always dreamed of, but didn't think was possible.
The kind of forward you both work towards together. Not his dreams or my dreams, but our dreams. Not his way or my way, but our way.
And for the first time in my whole life, I know what it means to truly be excited about tomorrow.