Boot Camp Bond
In high school, I had always joked with my girlfriends that I would never become a military wife. My reason was actually really selfish-I wanted my husband to come home to me every night. And so, I set out for college, keeping that joke on the back of my mind. I dated every type of guy out there. And big surprise, absolutely none of the relationships ever worked out. So, naturally, I never expected to end up where I am today. Then again, no one really does.
And so it would happen, much to my own shock, that I am one of "those" women who can truly say that I married my best friend. We met our freshman year of college, had really bad timing, both of us in relationships with other people, all of the normal reasons we didn't immediately become a couple. And of course, there was always the famous standby: "The friendship is too important; I don't want to mess anything up". Looking back, there were so many opportunities, so many instances when we could have been together, but both of us were just...stupid! So, like every romance story, it didn't start out easily; it was, obviously, very much the opposite.
You could say that it was fate, or destiny, or whatever, but clearly better things were intended for us. Having almost six years of a close friendship as a foundation, we finally came to our senses, and eventually thought, "Hey, why not?" Really, after all of that time, it WAS that easy; the story itself is a little more detailed, but sparing those, the main point is that we actually realized that we had more going on than just a good buddy. Less than a year after we even became a couple, we were married. Many frowned upon our hastiness, but unfortunately, we had reasons, and they weren't the typical kind.
Those months in between being just boyfriend/girlfriend were actually the most difficult; few women have had to experience separation so early in their relationship. Just three months into ours, my then boyfriend shipped off to begin his training to become a US Marine. That meant thirteen weeks not only physically apart, but with little to no communication whatsoever. He was, however, able to write letters. No, not emails, but actual, put-a-stamp-on-the-envelope letters. I had thought that it was a bit romantic, like the old war movies, the heroine patiently waiting for her soldier to come home. But it was far from the fairytale. Stories circulated about the terrifying Parris Island, what went on there, hardships, and so on.
Even so, I tried to stay as busy as possible. At the time, I was working as a full-time barista, writing as much as possible, and spending time with friends and family. That certainly was how I spent the majority of my time. And yet every night, I went to bed, praying that whatever my man was going through, that somehow he'd find the strength to get through it. After some weeks, my own strength began to wane. My old demons resurfaced, a dreaded thought that maybe he would come home so changed that he would actually want out of the relationship. Our friends were always reassuring, always supporting me, as well as him, telling me that what he was doing and everything that he was going through would only make it easier and better for us in the long run.
Getting Through It All
So with everyone's help, I had something to look forward to, even if it was a small thing. My comfort came with the letters he sent home. Every day I anxiously waited for 3pm, when the mail truck would pay me a visit. Days when I would receive a letter were precious, and unfortunately, few in between; my heart always palpitating, eyes beyond eager to read his news. He wrote me narrations of his training, being constantly screamed at, the crazy things he and his fellow recruits were expected to be able to perform, tasks any normal person would consider impossible. And me, well, I was spending my summer next to the pool, enjoying the company of my friends, sleeping in, and all around being lazy.
But that didn't matter, all of the free time and liberties I was experiencing. I was missing my heart. It wasn't just some guy I was romantically involved with, it was my best friend, the very person that knew every detail of my life, my hang out buddy, my partner in crime. With every day we spent apart, people always asked, "Is it worth it? The separation and heartache?" There was never a doubt in my mind. Every day was grievous, absolutely. And of course, I kept an updated countdown to the day I finally got to see him, much to the dismay of my over-annoyed coworkers. But even those things – the letters and friends - important as there were, were only snippets of what kept me going. It was the promise: at the end of the separation, at the closing of the journey, we were together. No physical distance, lack of communication, or worse…Drill Instructors…could keep us apart. Thanks to long-standing companionship, the old saying really came true: Absence, did in fact, make our hearts grow fonder.