September-October 2019 | Bethesda Magazine

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Two high school friends fell in love after college and got married a mile from where they grew up

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Photo by McKenzie Elizabeth Photography

The couple: Ashley Long, 29, grew up in Bethesda. Kevin Pernick, 30, was raised in Chevy Chase. They graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and live in Greenwich Village in New York City. Ashley works in strategic planning for the media agency Canvas Worldwide. Kevin is a marketing project manager for The New York Times.

How they met: Ashley and Kevin had the same group of friends at B-CC but never dated. “We were both interested in other people, actually,” Ashley says. “I went to prom with [Kevin’s] friend and vice versa.” Ashley recalls enjoying Kevin’s sense of humor and chatting with him on AOL Instant Messenger. “Kevin would make me mix CDs,” Ashley says. “But he made them for a couple other girls he was friends with, too.” Even though they got along well, Kevin says it’s for the best they never got together as teenagers. “It never would have worked in high school. I was a different person.”

More than friends: After high school, Ashley went to James Madison University in Virginia, and Kevin to the University of Michigan. They went on “lunch dates” when they were home for breaks yet still considered their relationship to be platonic. “But I wasn’t going on lunch dates with many other people,” Kevin says. In 2011, Ashley and Kevin had graduated college and were both living in the Washington, D.C., area. They were on a trip with high school friends to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and Kevin got sick. “I had my wisdom teeth removed and was allergic to the surgery or the Amoxicillin. Ashley took care of me,” he says. They watched Olsen-twin movies in Kevin’s room, which had two twin beds. When they got home, Ashley ended things with her boyfriend. “When I heard she and her boyfriend had broken up, I was pretty nervous because I got this feeling that we were going to start dating and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that.” Their relationship was casual at first, as they adjusted to their new dynamic.

Photo by McKenzie Elizabeth Photography

Making it work: A month or two into dating, Kevin accepted a yearlong internship with the Chicago White Sox. The couple kept up a long-distance relationship, even after the internship was extended six months. “When I knew I was really missing [Ashley], it was a pretty good signal that I wanted to be with her,” Kevin says. He came home often to visit, and Ashley visited Chicago a handful of times. “Looking back on it, I think it gave both of us a little bit more room to continue to grow and mature and figure out what we wanted to do independently while still being able to rely on each other,” Ashley says.

Settling down: After Kevin’s internship, the couple dated while living in separate apartments in D.C. for two years. “I got the bug that I wanted to move to New York, so I paid him back and moved to New York without him,” Ashley says. After another year of long-distance dating, Kevin moved in with Ashley in New York in 2016.

The proposal: Ashley and Kevin had talked about getting engaged but hadn’t set a timeline. One night in August 2017, they went out for a big Italian dinner, then stopped for gelato—Ashley’s favorite. She popped her leftover gelato in the freezer when she got home. “[Kevin] snuck into the freezer and put the ring on the gelato spoon so when I went back to get it I would see it,” Ashley says. But Kevin hadn’t planned on Ashley being stuffed. A half-hour later, Kevin brought the gelato—and the ring—to her in the living room. “It was very special and low-key,” Ashley says.