In between Ashlyn's university experience in Boone and her next chapter obtaining her master's in New York, she had a summer job in Asheville. While living in Asheville, she joined a gym (Summit CrossFit) that Anthony was a member of. Unbeknownst to Ashlyn, Anthony had been trying to find the right time to introduce himself. Well, the right time was just a month before her move to New York. Knowing grad school was imminent and distance posed a challenge, they decided to "see how it goes". Well, it went!
Anthony went to New York several times, some by car and once while stuck circling JFK because of an Air Force One landing. They traveled together, including a trip to Italy. But the journey was not always pleasant. They received news of Anthony's cancer diagnosis which made the distance seem that much further. Through hardship and trials, they gave it their all. Yet they knew they had some growing to do.
They took some time apart, yet remained friends, congratulated each other on milestones, celebrated victories, and talked (a lot) about their shared love of food. During the pandemic, Ashlyn decided that New York was not forever and it was time to come home. In doing so, Ashlyn asked to reconnect with Anthony and then they began their next chapter.
Shocking to most, Anthony was smooth. There were plans to go for a hike near Asheville, but mother nature had other plans. Knowing this, Anthony planned ahead. Anthony told Ashlyn they were to meet a friend from out of town at the Omni Grove Park Inn for some afternoon beverages. His friends called to confirm the plan earlier that morning.
Having stayed at the Omni Grove previously with some ghost encounters (another story), The Grove Park had a piece of personal history. While Ashlyn waited for his friends to show, Anthony suggested they go around the corner to a patio where they were waiting. The patio was empty. The rain was pouring. The fireplace was on. An employee was lurking nearby. Ashlyn turned around to tell Anthony, "I don't think we should be here" only to see him prepare to take a knee. So sneaky!