When Amy Giberson was in preschool in St. Petersburg, Florida, she developed her first crush on a boy. As expected, their relationship mainly involved sitting together at lunch, playing tag in the schoolyard, and constructing castles out of building blocks.
But 30 years passed, and they forgot all about each other. Little did they know that something would bring them back together again.
Their teacher reminisced on the toddlers’ adorable romance, “They had a blast with each other. It was a quiet, bashful romance. They liked each other from afar. It was a young love, like a sweet crush.”
Sadly though, this cute love affair was short-lived. Amy, then three, and her tiny man went their separate ways after graduating kindergarten. But would this be the end?
Several years later, Amy was off to university, leaving her long lost preschool crush behind her. She found new loves in adulthood, but they all proved to be tough experiences that left her heartbroken.
After being hurt time and time again, her friends stepped in. So no matter how hurt she was, her friends were always there to help her move on. And move on she did.
“People would tell me, ‘Don’t be so open, Amy. Don’t trust so easily,’” Amy said. “But if I stopped doing that, it wouldn’t be me. It’s just absolutely nuts that I [was] the tragically misguided girl who was always let down.”
But this unlucky streak wouldn’t last for long. When she hit 32 years old, everything changed.
At 32 years old, Amy was ready to settle down so she decided to move back to her own hometown of St. Petersburg. But without her dream man, she felt like she was only half of the equation. So she signed up to an online dating site.
Not soon after, her shiny profile caught the eye of another St. Petersburg local, Justin Pounders.
They were bound to hit it off. Much like Amy, Justin had also returned to his home town after a heartbreaking love story of his own.
Justin and his then fiancée, Adrianne Roberts, were about to move in together when tragedy struck. On her way home after having a few farewell drinks with her roommate, Roberts was attacked and brutally murdered.
It took Justin two years until he finally felt prepared to move on from his unfathomable loss. So there he was, back in St. Petersburg, looking for a real connection for the first time since the incident when he came across Amy’s intriguing profile.
He thought about what to say for a moment and then got in touch. It was a move that changed his life.
“I saw her photo and for whatever reason was instantly drawn to her,” Justin said. “She just had this great energy, you could tell. I can’t explain it, but I knew I had to get to know this girl.”
They chatted for a while online and felt an instant connection. It wasn’t long before they planned their first date.
Justin asked Amy out for dinner at a classy restaurant. They met, and Amy felt an instant attraction to him.
“When we met up and we hugged, it was like I had known him my whole life,” she said. They talked for a whole 4 hours straight. Time passed in the blink of an eye as she looked at him from across the table. But how did Justin feel?
“Not even halfway through dinner I found myself shivering because I was so excited,” Amy reminisced. “I remember telling myself, ‘I’m going to be having dinner with this man for the rest of my life.’”
Justin felt equally as hopeful after the success of the first date. He even told the waiter to write the date on their desert. Their love began to blossom as they started meeting up nearly every day.
It was about two months into their relationship, when Justin made a very telling confession. “Justin casually mentioned he always liked my name because his first crush was a girl named Amy in preschool,” Amy said.
“I joked and said, ‘Well it wasn’t me, so I don’t want to hear about this Amy.’” But she wasn’t joking. In fact, she was a little jealous.
Amy had always been a confident and secure woman. She was independent, smart, loving and funny but when it came to men, she was also weary.
She had been hurt so many times before that she started to listen to the advice her friends had given her. To not trust men so easily. And now, she was putting that into practice.
She wasn’t feeling too secure in the genuine feelings Justin had for her since he told her about his fiance. She was heartbroken for him and her of course, but she was worried that perhaps she would never match up to the real love of his life who had tragically died.
Sometimes, she felt unsure as to whether he looked at her as second best. The thought hid in the back of her mind.
She did her best to talk herself out of her insecurities. After all, he was doing nothing wrong. She just wasn’t sure if she should get involved with a widow who was already deeply in love.
She was worried that he mightn’t be as emotionally available to her as she needed him to be. But then something happened that gave her all the reassurance she needed.
She started to pay closer attention to how Justin behaved around her after he told her about his fiance. She was looking for any behaviors in him that made her feel unwanted.
As the days passed, she was coming up empty, she really couldn’t fault him. He was attentive to her, affectionate and caring. But something did annoy her.
Randomly, he would talk about his first crush. The Amy he had met in kindergarten. He laughed as he reminisced on their sweet relationship.
When she asked if he knew where she was now, he looked sullen as he answered no. It was obvious to Amy that he was curious about her. Then something happened that changed everything.
After the third month of their relationship, Amy caught Justin touching a small scar on his forehead.
He told her it happened in preschool when he was horsing around on the monkey bars, he fell and cut his head. That was the moment that they discovered they had much more in common than they first realized.
While they knew that they had both grown up close by, they figured that they had never known each other as they didn’t know any of the same people.
But as it turned out, 30 years ago Justin went to the exact same preschool as Amy did. They tried to work out if they would have been there at the same time. They were.
This revelation led Amy to ask her mom to find the old photos from her preschool days. When she brought out the old group picture of the kindergarten class, Amy and Justin’s connected past became crystal clear.
Astonishingly, Amy and Justin were there 30 years ago. And not only in the same photo but sitting side by side!
“We asked our parents to dig up any preschool photos they had,” Amy said. “Justin’s mom found a photo of the two of us together and I just started crying, I was ecstatic. I was the Amy he had liked all those years ago! It was definitely meant to be.”
All her doubts of what he felt for her vanished. She was finally at peace, but was he?
A year had passed since they had met – for the second time! And now, Justin had a surprise up his sleeve. After making a special appearance on The View, while the couple were retelling their amazing story, Justin sprung into action.
Unexpectedly, the cameras were rolling at the preschool where they first met. There, a group of little students were holding up a sign that read, “Amy, will you marry me?”.
A year after the big engagement surprise, Amy and Justin became husband and wife. They married at the Mahaffey Theater in their beloved hometown, St. Petersburg.
It was a love that defied time and all other outside forces of life. It took them 30 years to unknowingly reunite. It was like the universe was guiding them to meet again.
Friends and family were gobsmacked at their incredible love story. And after word got out, so was anyone who heard it. But it wasn’t always an easy ride.
Justin and Amy knew they wanted to start a family immediately. That’s when they encountered their first heartbreak and challenge as a couple. It was a challenge that completely blindsided them.
“We had three early miscarriages,” Amy said. “I would test positive and then lose it.” It was a really hard time for them. But soon, their fate would change.
When their son Conrad was born, Amy remembers how they both “cried and held him close.” Now, she looks back at everything that had happened and thinks of the impossible chances that led them back together.
“The stars really had to align for everything to happen,” Amy said. “Everything that transpired in our lives, us coming back together and making this beautiful little person, it’s all very surreal”.
“For Conrad Pounders to exist, it’s been a long journey, but it does feel like everything has come full circle.” A truth stranger than fiction!
This wasn’t the first time that a photo has caused such a stir and invited either happiness or despair into someone’s life. A girl named Kayla across the country knew this all too well when she posted a photo on her birthday.
The photo was seemingly harmless, but Kayla would learn that things aren’t as they seem when the school made a fuss about it.
Kayla Kennedy was a happy fourteen-year-old girl living in Louisville, Kentucky, with her family. She was your average teenager with unconditional love for friends and family.
Kayla lived a happy life. She always stayed true to herself regarding what she liked, and she was never afraid to be herself. She didn’t know how much her choices would affect her school life.
Kayla attended Whitefield Academy, a private school in her neighborhood. Since she was a child, Whitefield had always been on Kayla’s mind.
She’d been a part of the school for two years now, which was a dream come true. She’d expected to spend her entire high school journey here and was well on her way to fulfilling this wish. But something happened.
The beginning of the end started on one of Kayla’s favorite days. She’d just turned fifteen, and as was her family’s ritual for birthdays, they went out to celebrate.
As Kayla had always done since being young, she invited her close friends and extended family. Her mom made reservations at their favorite restaurant and requested a beautiful multicolored cake. But the festivities wouldn’t last for long.
Kayla saw her fifteenth birthday as another year of adventure, love, and powerful memories. She would usher in the day the best way she knew how.
She dressed in her favorite outfit, with a rainbow sweater to match the birthday cake. She rounded up her friends, and they went to the restaurant where everybody else was anxiously waiting.
Kayla’s birthday hit all the marks she expected it to hit. None of her friends and family failed to show up. The love and affection she received made her heart swell with joy.
Keen to freeze such a special moment in her daughter’s life, Kayla’s mom took a photo of the event and shared it on Facebook. She had no clue what this would do to Kayla’s school life.
The following week, Kayla received a notice from the school head, Dr. Jacobson. Seeing that the school had addressed the note to her mom, she brushed it off as a regular letter and hurried home.
But that night, her mom came into her room, asking Kayla if she’d read the notice. Her eyes were glossy with stemmed tears, and she held the crumpled letter in one fist. What was happening?
Kayla rarely saw her mom shed tears. She knew this was serious. “What’s wrong, mom?” she asked, noticing that her mom was not sad but angry.
“I’ll be taking you to school tomorrow,” her mom said and left the room mumbling things to herself. What could’ve happened that ticked off her mom like that? Kayla needed to find out.
Kayla had always been an above-average student. She rarely got herself in trouble and generally stayed on everyone’s good graces. So why was her mom upset?
She stalked after her mom, keen to know what could tick her off like this. She found the note next to her mom’s purse on the kitchen island. She skimmed through it, and her heart skipped a beat.
“An expulsion notice,” Kayla repeated for the fifth time. Her mouth grew dry, her eyes stinging with tears. Energy leached out of her body, and she stumbled back, but her mom caught her.
“Why?” she grated. “Why am I being expelled, mom?” Her mom didn’t answer. She wrapped her arms around Kayla and held her tight, promising she’d take care of everything.
The school was expelling Kayla because of the cake and sweater in her birthday photo. It insisted that Kayla presented herself in a light contrary to Whitefield Academy’s beliefs.
But Kayla’s mom wasn’t hearing any of it. To her, Kayla was a happy, expressive, respectful, and kind girl. She loved her daughter more than anything in this world and would fight for her till the end.
A woman in a suit visited Kayla’s home the next day. In her conversation with her mom, Kayla heard them talk about an invasion of privacy and defamation. Her mom was nodding keenly, but Kayla couldn’t understand what they talked about.
That night, her mom came into her room and explained everything. She was taking the school to court under several grounds, two of them being defamation and invasion of privacy. “This is war,” she said.
A wild back and forth ensued between the school and Kayla’s mom over the next week. It became clear that the school didn’t approve of homosexuality, which they linked to Kayla’s expulsion.
What pained Kayla’s mom the most was that the school singled out her daughter for expulsion. The school didn’t follow its disciplinary steps, jumping directly to the extreme measure. Would such a case hold in court?
Kayla’s mom took the school to court, but the case proved harder than she’d projected. The school insisted that its rules were in line with Kentucky laws.
The school also revealed that this wasn’t the first time they collided with Kayla. She’d been warned before regarding her lifestyle choices and how they didn’t align with the school’s values. So, did Kayla and her mom lose the case?
Kayla and her mom lost the case against Whitefield Academy. But the school changed the expulsion into a voluntary departure for Kayla, cleaning her record.
Although this experience was harrowing for Kayla, it helped her find her true self. It also showed her she could always count on her mom to stand by her through thick and thin.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.