To the casual observer, Ashley Sizemore, a pretty 19 year old junior with a big laugh, seems to be a college student like any other. Ashley, a psychology major, a flutist in the college band, and a member of the Psychology Honor Society, seems to be doing the typical balancing act of classes, studying, and having fun. This interview, in fact, is conducted in between commercial breaks of “America’s Next Top Model” ? one of Sizemore’s and her roommate’s favorite television shows.
However, there is another layer to Ashley Sizemore beyond that of just being the run-of-the-mill college student. On August 29th, Sizemore ?n?e Beattie ? married her high school sweetheart, Bryan Sizemore, 20, a member of the United States Air Force, who will be deploying to Iraq in October for 6-8 months.
The couple, who met through friends at a party during Ashley’s senior year of high school, has been in a long-distance relationship since Bryan, a Security Forces officer, left for Basic Training in Texas in December 2006. Since that time, the two have only been together on a total of six different occasions, between Ashley’s visits and Bryan’s military leaves. They keep in contact mainly through phone calls, text messages, and instant messages.
When faced with the question about when she knew that Bryan was the person she would spend the rest of her life with, Ashley shrugs her shoulders, “There’s nothing specific, really. You just know. When you’re in love, you know.”
“He was hard to get,” Ashley explains, cracking a grin, “but then I got him. And then I couldn’t get rid of him.” She explains that the couple knew they wanted to get married when Bryan was in Basic,
“I think a lot of couples go through that,” she says carefully, “it’s kind of that first rush of being away from someone, living without them, it makes you appreciate everything you have so much more.” That being said, Ashley says she’s “glad we decided to wait until after he was out of Basic before we got engaged. I think that was a smart move.”
After Basic Training and Tech School, Bryan was transferred to his permanent base in Missouri. They got engaged in May 2008, when Ashley went to visit him.
The subject of the proposal sends Ashley into a fit of laughter. “We were out to dinner and he stuck the ring in my iced tea while I was in the bathroom. Like, way down at the bottom of the glass, and I didn’t see it. He had to take the cup into the bathroom and pour it out to get the ring back. He was scared the waiter was going to take the glass.” She shakes her head, smiling ruefully, “so then the next night he just gave it to me and asked.”
The Sizemore’s original plan was to get married the following May, in 2009 ? but then, in mid-July, Bryan found out that he would be deploying to Iraq in the fall. How did Ashley re-act to this news?
“I cried a lot,” she admits, “We had to decide what we were going to do, and we decided that it would be better if we got married before he left.” There were a lot of different factors precipitating this decision.
“We were ready to be married anyway,” Ashley explains, “and this way if something happened to him, I would be the first to know, and if something happened to me, he would able to come home on emergency leave.”
Ashley planned their wedding, an intimate affair with sixty guests in the couple’s hometown of Williamsport, MD, on her own and in less than a month, and credits her family with lending their help and their patience.
“Basically, everyone hated me,” she jokes, “because I was so stressed out about organizing everything. I was a nightmare.”
Even the wedding day itself didn’t go off without a hitch ? it was raining, the florist ordered the wrong flowers, and Ashley ended up with only 45 minutes to get herself into her dress.
“It was worth it though,” she says thoughtfully, “as soon as I got to walk down the aisle and see him.” Her smile widens, “Bryan told me that I took his breath away.”
Her favorite part of the day? “Just being able to dance with Bryan and all of my friends at the end,” she says immediately, “I felt like all of the work had paid off, and I felt like I could finally relax. It was a perfect wedding.”
Now that the wedding is over and Bryan is back in Missouri, waiting to being pre-deployment training, Ashley says that while she misses him terribly, she knows it’s imperative for her to remain in school.
“It’s important to me to get a degree and get a good job,” she says, referring to her goal of becoming a child psychologist, “and I need to be able to do things for myself. Bryan supports me too ? it’s important for him that I’m getting my education, even though we hate being apart from each other.”
Once Bryan deploys, they will only be able to talk on the phone occasionally, or over the internet, and Ashley is already planning the care packages she’ll send him.
“You always worry,” she says quietly, her eyes distant; “you can’t help it. But at the same time, you can’t allow yourself to worry because if you did it would drive you insane. You just have to try and go about your day-to-day life as best you can.”
“I worry about things like ? what if he calls me when I’m in class? That might be the only chance that I would get to talk to him for a week, so do I take the call, walk out of class? Yeah,” she says, jiggling her foot and looking anxious, “I wonder about things like that.”
“I get frustrated a lot, but this is my life,” Says Ashley sincerely, adding that “I feel very lucky that I’ve gotten the chance to experience what it is to be the wife of someone in the military.”