I love Ashley for the sound of her voice and the glow of her smile, for the way she reaches up to hug me when she comes home in the evening, for how good her arms feel around my neck. I love her for how she squeals and laughs when I lift her up and hold her, and spin round in a circle like lovers do in cheesy movies.
I love Ashley for the line of her neck and the softness of her skin and her tiny elfin ears. I love her for the way she stands on her tip-toes when putting on make-up in the morning. I love her for always making sure she has a pair of sunglasses with her, and for looking like a movie star when she’s wearing them.
I love Ashley for steadfastly refusing to like professional wrestling just to placate me. I love her stubbornness, and her drive, and her determination. I love her passion, and her many kinds of courage, and her righteousness — because she is righteous.
I love Ashley for how she looks when she is asleep on the couch, or reading a book, or holding our cat. I love her for how eagerly she anticipates putting up the Christmas tree, for how nervous she gets before doctor’s appointments, for how hard she can make me laugh when I am least expecting to.
I love Ashley because she always thinks the best of me, even when I don’t deserve it; because she is unforgiving, but willing to forgive me; because she is as gentle as she is ferocious. I love her because she makes me a better person without ever trying to. I love her because she gives me so much, more than anyone ever has, and asks in return only that which I would have given her anyway. I love her because she is beautiful, and smart, and funny, and sexy, and surprising, and exciting. I love her because she is someone I am always happy to be with, always proud to be seen with, and always eager to return to when we are apart.
I love Ashley for being the girl in the red beret who laughed with me about the suicide of Ernest Hemingway, the girl in the blue hat and gloves I kissed in the parking lot outside her dorm, the girl who brought me back a rat puppet from London. I love her for being the girl who inspired me to try and do better, for standing by me when I failed, for encouraging me to try again. I love her for caring enough about me to be disappointed, for loving me enough to not give up on me, for trust me to help see her through her tough times. I love her for her writing, for her oils and incense, for how exquisite she always smells. I love her for being my lover, my companion, my best friend; for the last five years and the next fifty; for being with me and for allowing me the invaluable privilege of being with her — because there’s no one else in the world I would rather be with.
I love her because she’s my girl.
I love Ashley.