a little story.

I looked back into the sweaty sea of El Salvadorean people as the back doors of the old school bus closed and my friend Chris Rees' noticeable blond head quickly disappeared into the noise and heat of the Aughechpan street market. I nestled into the green vinyl seat, pressing my arm against the cold metal, propping my ancient black moccasins on the wheel hub of the bus floor and pulling out a Sebald novel about immigrants, I thought about the last two minutes which went like this:

Chris- 'Is this bus heading to the capital?'
Bus Driver- 'Yes, hurry, get on through the back.'
Me- 'Chris, I don't know about this, I'll just stay with you, really...it's fine, I don't need to go....'
Chris- 'You'll be fine, don't worry about a thing.' (slightly pushing me onto the bus and waving goodbye confidently) (He later confessed that despite his calm demeanor, he was just as freaked out as I was as he sent me away on a rickety and crowded bus in my yellow polka-dotted dress and green backpack to meet the boy I hadn't seen in four years).

The bus ride was long, crowded and hot. Turns out I'm not as latin looking as I might like to think as people gave sly and curious glances and kids whispered loudly and questioningly as they pointed with genetically brown fingers at my whiter than I realized skin. I smiled and tried to practice my yoga breathing. As we got closer to San Salvador I started to calm down and really wish that the sleeping man within centimeters of my shoulder would wake up and move to one of the 20 empty benches. But, since he didn't even budge, I took to looking out the window, as we rounded a bend in the last canyon before reaching the city I saw in medium sized white and blue spray-painted letters on a cement barrier written, 'Lo mejor esta por venir', which means, 'the best is yet to come'. I took it as a sign.

I was supposed to get off in Santa Tecla and find the park. I quickly realized that I had no idea where I was or when I should get off so I asked the man in front of me, as the one next to me was entirely indisposed. He said, next stop, hurry! I leapt over the sleeping man without his even flinching, grabbed my worn backpack from the rack and hopped down the bus stairs. There I was, apparently in Santa Tecla, where somewhere very near there was a park with a corner where I was to wait until a boy I met so long ago would nervously walk up with a bouquet of simple red flowers and take me back to his house.

We met four years ago when I went to El Salvador to work in a school for the summer. One Saturday our volunteer group met up with a group of kids from San Salvador to hike a volcano. As we waited for the buses I saw Mario from across the way. I knew immediately that I just had to know him. I remember firstly how happy he seemed and how kind he was to all the people around him. I didn't think he would talk to me, especially considering that my spanish was all but fluent at the time, but at the base of the volcano he walked over and we begin to talk. We talked for a long time that day, though, seriously, looking back I am always baffled at how we did with both of our language skills.

That day was the beginning of so many things and to make a long story short; we spent the next three weeks together. I went home. 4 months later he decided to get baptized into the LDS church. 2 months after that I started my mission in Uruguay. We wrote letters, and I finally understood what he was saying to me in spanish. The last couple months of my mission he received his mission call to Honduras and left a couple weeks before I got home. I came home, went to school, was with old friends, and met some of the most lovely and important people I will ever know. We wrote letters. I bought a plane ticket. Mario got finished his mission. Three days later I was sitting on a bench in a park corner. We had a lovely time together. We are getting married in the fall.

We are both a little eccentric and impractical, and sadly, not very good at being on time. He's studying architecture and the cello. His dad is a poet, and passed on to Mario the ability to write the loveliest metaphors. He is so kind and friends with everyone (which I love most). He is happy and funny. I'm excited for him to know everyone. He already knows about so many of my friends and family.

I find it hard to express gratitude properly, but if I could, I would say thank you to so many people. I would say thank you to those who have always supported and believed in my crazy ideas (parents, siblings, elisa, so many friends). I would say thank you to the people I've dated, who in so many ways have done more to help me understand love than anyone else. And above all, thank you to a God who knows us so well and wants to give us good things.

I had a hard time thinking about marriage for the longest time because people had always told me that it was the closing of so many doors, but I'm realizing that is not the case, the world seems open wider than it ever has. I am understanding more about joy everyday.

p.s. sorry if this is over indulgent, i kept getting embarrassed as i was writing, but i just kept going.


Gritty Pretty said...

Oh happiness!! Wow, I'm so glad to have read this wonderful tale and to know your wonderful news!!

shelly said...

I'm so glad you just kept going with that story! What a HAPPY ending...or beginning...Love you!

britt said...


And indeed, marriage is only opening of doors, not closing.

Please more details when you have a moment -- where will you live? Where will the wedding be?

In the words of Brett, "Huzzah for the eternities!" we love you!

Heather said...

YAY Ashley!!! I'm SO excited that you posted this beautiful love story! I can't WAIT to have a Latin lovin' cousin with a cute little brown baby brother! (just kidding!). Anyway, I couldn't be happier for you! xoxo.

Lindsay Ross said...

ah! I love it. I love you and I love Mario even though all I know about him is what you tell me.
congratulations! (is it spelled with a "d" or a "t") best cuz

Club Narwhal said...

oh, i can't even express how joyful this news is! when i saw what transpired on that gorgeous sketchbook of yours there was no question that mario was an amazing person. i'm so happy that you two are getting married! the world needs amazing people being amazing together.

Nicole said...

Holy shit ash!!!!

I am shocked....

Erik said...

Congrats Cousin Ashley! What a great love story. You're an excellent writer.

Sofia said...

Your story ignited my soul more than the films Like Water for Chocolate or Il Postino, which are both really good by the way. I wish you the best. Lo mejor por venir!

Lia Kim said...


it seems so silly all of a sudden that i am finding this out on your blog from so many miles away and missing you so incredibly and wanting to hear the story over and over again from out of your mouth but - all i have to say is:

p.s. the best image i have of mario has something to do with that poem he wrote about you, you as the girl with the socks.

Brooke Stoneman said...

Ash - I'm soo stinkin' happy about this! We don't have to get Oprah involved after all! Write soon and tell me all the details - where will you live, get married, that kind of jazz. I have a little something for you from ye olde Middle East. I think they made it just for you. Love you!!

A & O said...

I'm so glad you kept on writing.

'Lo mejor esta por venir'


l'├ęcureuil said...


Ashley Mae!!!! I'm so happy for you. This has just made my day, though I'm sure your day is made much more than mine!!!

Love you!

hybrid said...

Ashie-face, I'm so excited for you. This is wonderful news!

Hyeku said...

Ash, I have tears in my eyes just sitting here at work. Tears aren't that common in my life lately. I still think you write beautifully and your story is beautiful. I can't wait to meet Mario.

Joshua said...

Yeah!!!!! Ash, I am so happy for you. I remember over a year ago when you had me talk Mario on a cassette tape and I knew then you were going to marry this handsome man! I am so happy for you and this feels so right! Love you forever, and I am so happy I get to keep you as a sister forever!

darcie said...

dear ashley, i remember when you came home from el salvy 4 years ago. "are you going to marry him?" i asked and you shyly nodded. about a month ago we repeated this exact same encounter. i love you and am so happy for you.

Caitlin said...

Wow. What a beautiful love story! And who better to deserve it than you.