The year was 2020, a decidedly terrible chapter in the book of years: It began with talk of some rapid spreading sickness and quickly escalated into a pandemic of sorts. Lame.
For Ashlea, the onset of the pandemic was marked by her apartment catching fire. Also, her dog died.
For Nathan, the pandemic meant working from home and not meeting new people. Working from home was a nice change of pace from the norm.
It was during the pandemic of 2020 that Ashlea and Nathan both found themselves single and thinking, “I would like to not be single.”
It was during the pandemic of 2020. Therein, as the bard would tell us, lies the rub.
Confined to their homes, both took to the world of internet schmoozing. Nathan heroically created accounts on a number of people meeting apps; Ashlea did the same and she felt fine about it. ...She’s more of a social butterfly than Nathan, so it’d be kind of dramatic to describe her efforts as heroic.
Nathan courageously took to wading through the cesspool of internet profiles: His swipe-left game was strong, almost as strong as those for whom he would swipe right. He didn’t get very many connections, probably because he didn’t have any profile pictures of him holding up a fish he had just caught. It’s hard to compete with that and the shirtless gym pics. Whatever.
Bravely, Nathan continued. Then, on June 23, 2020, exactly 17 days after the anniversary of D-Day, he came across Ashlea’s profile. “She cute,” he thought, and continued reading the information she had provided:
“Energetic, loud, and happy.”
“Nice,” he thought.
Profile Prompt: What’s the strongest opinion you hold?
Ashlea: “Microwaved leftover chicken is the most disgusting thing ever.”
Nathan, sending Ashlea a response to her unique, albeit wrong, opinion on chicken: “I see your chicken scenario and raise you pizza that has been refrigerated, re-heated, and then allowed to cool back down to room temperature.”
Unlike all the squares that never responded to Nathan’s Fisher-Price inflatable icebreakers, Ashlea saw a challenge and ran with it.
For the next week, Ashlea and Nathan sent messages back and forth, discussing dessert preferences, why dessert is the most important meal of the day, and other things beyond dessert. Having approved of each other’s beliefs on dessert, the two exchanged numbers and started having phone calls. Due to pandemic reasons and also distance reasons, it would be another three weeks before they would meet in person.
Ashlea drove to Houston for the weekend of July 27th, 2020 to visit with her brother and his wife, Ben and Artchalee. She and Nathan met in person for the first time on that Saturday - they went to the picnic loop at Memorial Park, where Ben and Artchalee had followed Ashlea and had filmed her and Nathan’s first in-person interaction. This was done as a contingency in the event that Nathan turned out to be a crazy person.
The two spent all of 10 minutes at a picnic table before a torrential downpour forced them to retreat to her car. They spent the afternoon talking. At day’s end, Nathan asked Ashlea to be his girlfriend. She said yes.
They met with each other the following day and spent another afternoon getting rained out before Ashlea had to drive back to Waxahachie. They continued having phone calls throughout the week and planning weekend visits with each other and disagreeing on the merits of microwaved leftover chicken.
On February 6, 2021, Nathan asked Ashlea to marry him. She said yes.