Saturday, September 24, 2011

Parris Island Cont.

A year ago today was my love's graduation. My Mom and I got to the base even earlier than the day before. I set up camp on the empty bleachers. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans will get a kick out of the fact that I made sure I had a towel, and it came in quite useful. It was dewy and insanely dark but warm. Mom went to get coffee and I drank it without really tasting it, then when it got light enough I read to pass the time. I wore a sundress paired with tennis shoes because I knew I'd need to run.

The ceremony was amazing, as was the band, but all that truly stuck with me was heart-pounding trembling impatience and overwhelming pride in my love and what he had accomplished. When they were released and the stampede started, I vaulted over the rope and sprinted out on to the parade deck as my Mom snapped some priceless photos. When I reached Andrew I slammed into him and knocked him back a bit into the Marine behind him. Then it was just a matter of some congratulations, introductions, and collecting Andrew's things.

I don't know that there's any way to relate what that day was like, driving off base with my fingers entwined with my love's, taking pictures in the old churchyard, having a great lunch that I hardly remember, repacking Andrew's things and seeing just how baggy his civvies were now. Getting a bit shy around our parents and him saying across the room "What are you doing all the way over there?" just when I needed to hear something like that.

The flight back to Seattle the next day was the most enjoyable plane ride of my life, and probably the most comfortable with Andrew as backrest and pillow. For once I wasn't anxious to get somewhere good, or sad to be leaving, I had him with me and the plane could have gone and landed anywhere and I probably wouldn't have minded a bit. His boot leave turned out to be pretty darn eventful, but I think I've told a bit of that story before...of how less than a week later I ended up with his ring on my finger, where it still sits proudly as I type this.

Every day since then I've only grown prouder and loved him more, even with him away. I look forward to the day I am once again waiting with my heart in my throat, then breaking into a sprint when I spot him and launching into his arms where I belong.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Parris Island

On this day in 2010, I was at Parris Island on Family Day.

I woke with my heart in my throat, barely having slept the night before. It was early, it was dark, it was already warm. I don't think I was completely still the whole drive from our B&B to the base. We parked and headed to the side of the parade deck and found some Marines doing crowd control. They told us right where my newly-minted Marine was going to pass by on the upcoming moto-run and I nabbed a spot right on the corner where I would be the most visible and the first person everyone passed. Andrew's Dad and Step-mom found us and I introduced my Mom, a little awkward still because this was only the second time I'd met them. The sky gradually lightened and I could start to see the new Marines out on the parade deck. It seemed like forever until they started running. There were so many, and I was looking for "portals", the government issued glasses, but little did I know my love was wearing his contacts so I missed him at first. My Mom spotted him and said she was sure he had seen me. We ran over to another spot on the route and waited again. This time, I saw him and his irresistible grin. So very close but still far...

We had to hurry up and wait some more before they were released to us families. We had coffee and moseyed on in to the All-Weather Training Facility where a video was played that I hardly saw and people spoke that I hardly heard and finally my Marine was coming in the side door and standing there in front of me. They tortured us a bit longer until at last they were released and everyone was pouring out of the stands to grab their men. I vaulted out of the bleachers, pushed through the other people and landed in Andrew's arms. I had been told some rules about no PDA during family day and while they were in uniform so I looked up at him, smiled, and said, "What can I get away with?" He kissed me and I completely melted but it was over far too soon as he said, "I don't think anyone noticed that," with a smirk.

I had been a little worried about how he might have changed during the time apart but it only took a few moments for me to say, "Yup, you're still my Andrew." We all started walking, him telling stories and catching up with his Dad, I clung to his arm and just grinned and grinned and drank in the sight of him. We shared a Subway sandwich for lunch and went through the museum, stealing a couple more kisses in a back corner and on the very short one-story elevator ride. He played tour guide as we explored the base, in one building we ran into a group of high-ranking military officers from multiple countries and one stopped to thank Andrew for his service. He was bewildered and ever humble, commenting after the fact that he "hadn't done anything yet."

Eventually I had to give him back as they started graduation practice. My Mom and I watched for a bit but after the Drill Instructors yelled for them to start over a few times we left them to it and met his Dad and Derri for dinner, then on to another sleepless night as I waited for graduation and when I could leave there with my Marine by my side.