Ashley and Courtney
How We Met
When I turned 19, I struggled to find a local dance studio for “adults.” I only lived about 10 minutes outside NYC, but between work and college, traveling into the city for dance class was not my first choice, so I decided to stay at my local dance studio that I danced at since I was 8 years old. The Summer right before I turned 19, my dance studio held a “master class” which is when an outside choreographer is hired to teach a class; that particular Summer, it was a girl named Courtney. She was full of energy, young, and unlike any hip-hop class I’ve ever taken before. That September we were notified she would be teaching full time at our studio, however, she would only be teaching tap. Me being curious, signed up for her tap class (keep in mind up until this point I haven’t taken a tap class in 3 years) and that is when we officially met.
A year later, Courtney left my dance studio to open up her own, and I followed. From there, I began teaching dance, we became good friends, to best friends, and eventually, one night, my feelings poured out. She was obviously taken back because she thought I was straight and then she was angry because I didn’t tell her sooner. I knew I always had feelings for her, but was dating a boy a the time and was unsure if it was feelings, curiosity, or confusion. As we grew closer and I really began to know her, her triumphs, her struggles, and the person she was on the inside, I knew it wasn’t curiosity or confusion, it was actual, real feelings.
Above is the spark notes version of “our story,” however the dramatics and the lesbian stigmas, is what makes our story unique and way more interesting. Being “new” to the lesbian world, or as I use to say “a freshman,” I never realized how much emotion and drama goes into a relationship with two women. Ex-girlfriends never want to leave, space is taken to a whole new level and trying not to look/talk/act alike but you spend 24/7 together is probably one of the hardest tasks known to man.
Courtney and I were both in relationships with I confessed my feelings for her. Courtney with a girl, me with a boy. Neither one of them stopped us from pursuing each other moments after I confessed, and I am so happy for the first time in my life, I didn’t think, just went for it. Within a week, I knew I wanted to be with Courtney or as Courtney called it, “becoming lesbian.” I broke off my 6-year relationship, cried because I felt terrible for hurting him, and texted Courtney hoping she would be doing the same. Well, Courtney’s situation was a little different. Not only was she dating this person, but they were living together, and worked together … well we all worked together. Although their relationship was unhealthy in more ways than one, Courtney never wanted to do what her ex did to her and wanted to do things the right way. Eventually, they broke up, Courtney moved out, and we could finally be us.
Remember where I said there would be drama?
Being “us” never really happened. We kept “us” a secret for a few reasons; 1. All of us working together (court, me, & ex) 2. I hadn’t officially come out to anyone except my friends. That year of “fake us” we broke up, got back together, broke up, saw other people, got back together, etc. Apparently, in the lesbian world, this is normal but I felt like I was going through a whirlwind – why couldn’t two people, who obviously loved each other just be happy and together? Eventually, we broke up big. Big in a sense, that I quit my job and we didn’t speak nor see each other for 2 months. I finally came out to my parents, which they did not support at all, Courtney finally told her ex (who worked with us) and she tried ever which way to break us up, and we were pulled down by every direction. The stars were not aligning and it was time to let go and just “see what happens.”
Everyday I thank god we broke up for 2 months. We both needed space. Space to grow, space to heal, and space to really see if we were meant to be in each others lives. I would be lying to say I didn’t cry a lot, because I did. I felt like a part of my heart had a hole in it and I wasn’t sure if it would ever be filled again. I worked 3 different job to keep my mind busy, but there wasn’t a day I didn’t think about her, and thats how I knew. I knew I needed closure, for that I knew I wanted to be with her but I couldn’t be with her if it was going to continue down the same path. So I reached out. She responded. We met. We hugged. And eventually, we got back together … for good. Courtney eventually gave up the rights to her business with her ex, we moved in together, opened up our own dance studio together, have 2 dogs, a cute little place we call home, and are happier than ever.
We both always knew it was each other. Some people will say, how could that be with all the drama? My answer is, without rain things cannot grow, embrace your storm and what is meant to be, will find its way.
How They Asked
On September 5th 2018, I proposed to Courtney. I was nervous, but calm – if that makes sense. Up until this point, Courtney and I have been dating for a little over 5 years, so her saying no wasn’t the reason for the nerves, it was the way I was proposing that had me feeling like I was about to dance behind Beyonce at a sold out concert.
The background: From the moment I met Courtney, I knew my life changed forever. Not just because I officially “came out” but because we just made sense. When we started dating, we both knew this relationship was going to be a forever thing and even though we had many obstacles to climb (which eventually I will get in too), we equally loved each other in all the good ways one should. We always talked about marriage and joked around with all the “firsts;” who was going to propose first, walk down the aisle first, be pregnant first, etc. If you know us, you know we do not stereotype our relationship at all, which is one of the things I love about us. Courtney always said, she was going to propose to me first (she has a few good reasons) and I agreed, but always in the back of my mind I always knew I was going to beat her to the punch; if you know me, I love to surprise people and always, always, always, do the unexpected.
I wasn’t supposed to propose to Courtney on September 5th, 2018. I actually was supposed to propose on May 4th, 2018. Everything was planned. We were in Disney (our favorite place) with one of our teams for a competition, I flew out a photographer from Jersey to Florida, set up a scavenger hunt around the Magic Kingdom, bought the ring, and was set on proposing on May 4th, 2018 – which signified 2 things; 1. May the 4TH be with you (star wars) 2. The FORCE is female (signifying woman empowerment and together we, both girls, are unstoppable). It didn’t happen. I pulled the plug, lost some money, and went home with a ring in my bag hoping airport security didn’t pull it out in front of her.
She knew. She knew something was wrong with me. It’s hard to hide your feelings from your partner, let alone your best friend who you spend every waking moment with. I felt horrible, but in my heart, it wasn’t the right time. I messed up, did not plan accordingly, and put others before I put myself, but more importantly her. See, in an LGBT relationship, you (mainly speaking of myself), try and do things the right way, the “straightway.” You try and normalize your relationship the best you possibly can so you make it easier for your friend and family, but sometimes by trying to do that, you hurt not only yourself, but the person who loves you for exactly who you are.
I told her. I had too. I believe what makes a successful relationship, in anything in life, is honesty. She was heartbroken and angry, which she should be, and I felt terrible. She understand the barriers we would have to climb, but this one moment, she wanted, not just for her but for us.
Back to the Drawing Board
I thought about a few different ideas, but nothing compared to a scavenger hunt in Disney World. So we booked another trip. She booked the trip thinking it was our Summer Vacation right before we go back to work. She invited a few of our friends and I did nothing. I let her plan and let her think it was just a friends trip, if I even tried to involve myself, she would know something was up – so I stayed quiet and let her do everything. I knew I was going to propose, just didn’t know the how or when. We did not have enough people for a scavenger hunt and I did not have the money for a photographer. As the weeks got closer, I tried to rack my brain. If you know me, I am a very creative person, but so is Courtney. I kept thinking I needed to go over the top for her because I know that’s what she would do for me, but every idea I came up with, I just wasn’t in love with.
It wasn’t until one day I was driving in the car with one of our friends who were coming on trip with us, that it hit me. She was asking if I was going to do it and really go through with it this time. I laughed and said “if I am getting on a plane again (because i hate flying), I am doing it. I don’t know when or how, but its happening.” A light bulb went off. It didn’t really matter how or when I did it, we were going to Disney, her favorite place, all I had to do was, just do it.
Our trip was coming to an end. I knew this was going to be the last night we were at the Magic Kingdom and if I was going to do it anywhere, it was going to be there. As we headed over on the monorail, my friend texted me from across the way and asked if I was going to do it. I said yes, but didn’t know if I should do it during the firework show (which I ALWAYS vowed to Courtney I would NEVER do because it’s so corny and typical) or at the end of the night when everyone leaves the park and we are the only ones on Main Street. My friend replied, “you have 7 minutes until the fireworks.”
The Moment: As we ran down Main Street trying to get a good spot for the firework show, I whipped out my camera and gave it to my one friend and handed the ring box to the other. They looked at me like a deer in headlights – yup, this is it, guys! My friends pushed there way to make it so we were in a perfect spot, center of the castle. Now, all I had to do was pick a moment I was going to do it. The fireworks I thought, thats when I’ll do it. BLANK. I LITERALLY WENT BLANK. I’ve seen this firework show about 10x already, but for some reason, I couldn’t remember it. I knew the show was about 14 minutes long because we constantly sing the sound-track in the car, but were there fireworks right at the end? Then it hit me – TINKERBELL. Tinkerbell comes out at the end, right before the fireworks, she will be north star.
As we stood there watching the fireworks I was nervous. Courtney was crying already (she always does during this show) and I was literally reminding myself to breathe. There were millions of people around us and although I am a dancer and have danced in front of thousands (not millions … yet) this was the most nervous I have ever been. As the moment got close I reached back my right hand to signal to my friend to “hand off” the ring to me. Courtney suddenly reaches back t that same time to hold my hand, so I toss the ring quickly into my left hand. I whisper to Courtney, “where is tinker bell”– she points. A few moments later I whisper, “when is tinker bell coming” – with an attitude she snarls “soon! just watch.” I laugh now knowing I was “ruining” the show for her at that moment, but really trying to plan the 8 counts I was going to go down on one knee.
Let the Ugly Crying Begin
Tinker Bell finally flew across us. The music starts to get louder and the fireworks start going off. I turn back to my group of friend who created a barricade around us, along with flashlights from their cellphones, so they could capture every detail of the moment (I am so grateful you all were there), and give them a “wink” – I honestly do not even remember doing this until I saw the video. I took a breath and suddenly all my nerves went away, it was the weirdest most calming feeling ever, and said, “Courtney” (I never call her by her real name unless we are fighting or I am typing about her), she turned around and even before I could get the words out, she started crying. I, of course, finished the sentence, “will you marry me?” She didn’t answer and continued to cry. I was on my knee for what felt like a lifetime and she finally started shaking her head yes!
The Celebration: So when your in Disney and get engaged, EVERYONE is happy for you. I cannot thank our friends enough, but the cast members who made our last days there so amazing. I did not “plan” anything in particular, for that I just wanted to enjoy the moment and go “with it.” I tried so hard to plan this perfect proposal back in May and it ended up to be the biggest disappointment. This time around, I planned NOTHING. I also told, NO ONE. Yes, I did not tell her parents, my parents, sister, or our closest friends who were not on the trip with us. For us, it worked. Sometimes asking telling too many people ruins the moment, and for once I wanted the moment to be ours.
People did send us stuff to our resort room and when we arrived home, Courtney’s parents dressed up our puppies like a bride and groom (LOL, we thought this was funny because we are going to be BRIDE and BRIDE, but it was the thought that counts … and also our one dog technically is a boy). From celebratory dinners with my family and our friends, we are both so blessed to have such an awesome support system.