Ashley + Alex
There are so many things I cherish about our love story, but one of the things I love most (aside from my deep admiration and respect for Alex as an individual) is our way of communicating with one another. I mean, our personalities have always clicked, and we feel wildly attracted to another in a visceral way, but it's also the ways in which we sensitively communicate, combined with our desire to understand and be understood, that brings huge meaning to our lives together.
Our story began in high school, Alex was an exchange student (you'll read the whole story below), and distance was a factor we knew we'd come up against, but we gave into our feelings as teenagers do. Things changed in our University years as we studied in different countries, and we went separate ways to pursue our studies and grow as individuals. We had remained good friends and technology made it easy to keep in touch with each other over the years (as opposed to back in 2005, when we went through hundreds of calling cards!). It was only until recently, when timing, circumstance, and curiosity brought us to meet up in person. What next? Well here's our story:
When did you meet?
Alex - I spotted Ash for the first time in my first semester as a senior in high school as an exchange student in Manitoba. She was in grade eleven. But we only met many months into the year when we were both walking on our way home from school, and she crossed the road and introduced herself on March of 2005. Still not sure why.
Ash - It was a very small school, we had different friend circles, I was super reserved and shy, and we never really talked until his last months of the year. One day I just randomly decided to say hello on our walk home from school. He has a great aura, I suppose I was just drawn to him.
Describe your first date?
Alex - It was great, we had coffee and dessert, the waitress – a sweet old lady – thought we made a cute couple and took a picture of us. Ashley only realized she went on her first date till years later.
What was it like seeing each other in person again, after 8 years?
Ash - Exciting, familiar, and strange mixed together. I couldn’t stop looking at him, I’m still very obsessed with admiring his features. His eyes shone. His hug felt real good. To hug him, breathe him, all the realness of who he is embodied, it felt too good to be true! He’s still the most beautiful human in the world to me.
Alex - It was weird, we had Skyped many times over the years, so her voice was so familiar, but to hold her and perceive her scent were new again. I felt like I had to get familiar with her presence, because her voice and her way of talking were home to me. It took me a day to sink it all in. But overall it was pretty intoxicating. I'm very drawn to her.
When was the moment you felt your heart fall for him/her?
Alex - The first time she spoke to me and walked me home, and the third day after I came to visit her last year in Toronto. She threw me a birthday party and at some point she started dancing with her friend Heather, and she was absolutely radiant and joyful.
Ash - I remember the quiet moments when we were first dating, when nothing had to be said. Specifically, I remember playing with hands, it was very simple and romantic (despite the fact we were hanging out on top of a toboggan slide across from the school). How I felt his hands, and how he’d touch mine back, it was a conversation of feelings without words, and I’ll never forget that feeling, that moment. I felt he understood me, and I really fell for him.
What's something that Ashley/Alex does that you can’t get enough of?
Alex - Smile, snuggles, go about the city and explore/wonder, her baking! The rest is too private, but it does imply food sometimes.
Ash - The way he talks when he is passionate about a subject – mega turn on. I also just can’t get enough of some of the things he does to me but, those are a secret.
What’s a favourite travel memory you have together?
Alex - Probably when I was 18 and followed her around by land as she was on a cruise with her family making stops along the Caribbean. When we went to Guatemala together and hiked an active volcano (Pacaya) and were literally 3 meters away from the lava. And at the beginning of this year when we spent two weeks in the Mexican Caribbean again. I don’t think we were ever as passionate as kids as we were on that trip.
What’s your ideal way of spending a Sunday together?
Ash - Simple things: Sleeping in late together, picnic-ing, naps, nudity, and ice-cream.
Three words that describe him/her?
Ash - He's curious, perceptive, and charismatic.
Alex - Warm, censorial and playful.
What is something Ashley/Alex does that makes you laugh?
Ash - The expression he makes when he sees little dogs. The questions he asks me sometimes, he's very curious, I love that.
Alex - Her approach to simple things, specially when she’s being a goof.
How did you start dating?
Ash - I don’t remember when we became “official”. But we went from friends to lovers pretty quick. It was in the spring/summer of 2005. We would write each other a lot, and he would write love notes and give me little gifts like jewelry, hand made things, and the infamous mix "cd".
Alex - We had one class together, and I pretended I cared to catch up with Canadian History after having been away for a month traveling through Canada. So, it was initiated by the topic of studying together, her objective (But truth is, I really didn’t care much about my grades then. I already had a Mexican High School Diploma).
How would you describe the dynamic of your relationship?
Alex - We try to be as naked in front of each other as much as possible, both literally and figuratively.
Ash -Honest, passionate and candid.
What was your first impression of Ashley/Alex?
Alex - When I saw her I thought "what a babe!!!" Then we talked for the first time and I thought she was incredibly nice and sweet. She may come off a bit stand off-ish if you've never spoken to her, but she is so far from it.
Ash - He was very exotic to me. In a school full of southern Manitoba country kids, he was the only guy with long (really long at the time) curly hair, baggy jeans, and an attitude and outlook like no other. He really didn’t care what anyone else thought (–ahem, honey badger), and I loved that. At first I felt shy because he was so different and I myself was so different from him in personality, but the more I knew him–the more I got to true glimpses into his mind and heart– I was simply awe struck by his beauty.
What talent does she have that most people wouldn't imagine when they meet her?
Alex - She’s an opera singer and she often thinks there is nothing extraordinary about it.
Ash - That he’s an AMAZING dancer, speaks 3 languages fluently, but is also a total brainiac who majored in mathematics and economics.
If you had to pack an emergency care package with 5 items in it for Ashley/Alex, what would they be?
Ash - Dark Chocolate, my cookies, a book, a journal, and a guitar.
Alex - Some sort of music player, homemade coconut desserts from Chiapas and HotNuts (funny fact, in Mexico you can have some HotNuts while sipping on some refreshing Squirt, it’s a real thing guys, look it up), sunscreen (mainly because of me, she loves the sun and tanning, I actually burn easier than her, so I guess she would wish me to bring an emergency bikini, but sorry hun, it’s my list!), a good camera, and a book (to inspire and let her go lose herself with the camera).
Which attribute from him/her do you wish you had?
Ash - I wish I had his courageousness. I definitely feel inspired by him to be more adventurous. Oh, and his ability to remember so many things. He's a human sponge, so I'm pretty jealous of his bank of knowledge.
Alex - Her singing skills and some of her patience and non judgmental ways towards people she cares for.
Photography - Vanessa Mayberry