Monday, October 17, 2005

R&R


I had looked so forward to those two weeks of R&R with my boyfriend. I had essentially waited 28 weeks for those blissful 15 days. I had read other people’s accounts of R&R, both from the soldier’s side and from the family’s side. Every time a soldier from our unit would come home for R&R I always wanted to hear details…the anticipation, the reunion, the two weeks, and as little as possible about the inevitable separation at the end. I thought I might glean some insight on how my R&R was going to be. In some ways my experience mirrored theirs, and in others it was completely different.

After 5 days of traveling, and a few nights spent in Ireland, my soldier arrived at Los Angeles International Airport. I got a call from him at around 4:30 AM telling me his flight number from Dallas to LAX…although the flight wasn’t going to arrive until about 10 AM, and I could reasonably sleep another three hours or so, sleep was out of the question. I was just too excited. In just a few hours, he was going to be there. So, I showered and primped, settled on an outfit I thought worthy of his first sight of me after months’ of separation (although my father claims that a paper sack would have probably sufficed, and I would tend to agree). I brought a magazine and tried to look as casual as possible…leaning just so on a pillar, or sitting nonchalantly flipping the pages of my magazine…trying to not get too excited. And then people started coming into the baggage claim. I jumped up looking thru the human stream trying to see him…and then he walked thru the revolving doors.

He says he didn’t see me until a Tazmanian-like animal attacked him. He was in his BDUs, so I could proudly gloat for all to see, that I was picking up a soldier returning from “over there”. But I was really too excited to even care about that anymore. I was just hugging and kissing him. I think he was perhaps a little overwhelmed with all the attention after months of such dearth. We waited for his bag to arrive, and then went to the car. As we were walking, I teased: “you’re shy.” He replied: “I AM shy.” We laughed, and the ice had been broken. We were back to our routine.

The next two weeks were spent between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and visiting his family in Kentucky. It was my first time to the “mid-east” and I was completely enamored. Finally I was seeing my boyfriend in his “natural habitat,” so to speak. His family and his friends, people who loved him as much as I did, and brought a whole new context to the person he was.

It was a whirlwind of 2 weeks, and once again saying goodbye. Once again, I was the first to leave. He dropped me off at the airport and we said our goodbyes. Once again I had to fight off the cold realization that this was perhaps the last time I would see and hold him.

I would say that this goodbye was easier than the first goodbye of this deployment, because we are on the other side of the hump now. Past the halfway point.

Although the separation itself was easy – no dramatic hugs or tearful goodbyes – it proved harder on my subconscious. Unlike the months of mental preparation before the deployment, before R&R there are months of anticipation of his return. I hadn’t really prepared myself for him leaving again. So while I was very easily able to slide right back into “life together” during R&R, the separation after R&R was harder. I would wake up and think about things I wanted to do that day with my boyfriend, or something I wanted to tell him, and then realize he was gone. It only lasted a few days, but there would be moments when I would be in a store or somewhere, and want to turn around to tell my boyfriend something, before I realized we were thousands of miles apart again.

The two weeks were blissful. Such a gift. The first day was filled with exclamations “Oh my God, you’re here!” (mine) and tired, contented smiles (his). There was also a certain element of readjustment. We were both a few months and separate experiences older, and we needed to recalibrate our relationship.

I always think I love my boyfriend so much, and it’s not possible to love him anymore, but then suddenly I do. There is another level of “boyfriend adoration”.

Before he came home I felt that even if he didn’t come for R&R, it wouldn’t be a problem. We had survived over 6 months, and the rest of the time was just zipping by. But in retrospect I realize that we grew a lot closer in those two weeks. It was a reacquaintance of sorts. It refreshed all my feelings for him, made them brighter although they hadn’t really gotten duller.

Right now I feel like I have just fallen in love. Like those first few weeks of a relationship where everything is new and full of promise and unknown possibilities. Where every answered question helps to paint the tableau of who your partner is even further.

I told my mother that I can’t wait until he comes back. And she laughed and said: “but you’ve only just seen him.” And I said: “yes, but that was a vacation…it wasn’t real life. It was this wonderful gift, but I look forward to getting back into a routine with him.” To going on bike rides with him. To annoying him by playing human shadow. To preparing grilled veggies and steaks together. Basically to the tango of everyday relationship bliss.

I can’t really remember any one day or one moment of the two weeks that stood out especially. It was just a very nice time. And at the end of it, I didn’t feel cheated. Of course I wished that he could stay longer, but I also just wanted the rest of the year to hurry up so he can come back “for good”.

10 Comments:

Blogger airforcewife said...

You're so right, it's just like that!

And it stays that way even after years and years and years of marriage, too.

It always bothers me when someone asks me how I can stand it when hubby is gone so long at a time, because it's said with this undertone of "you must not really love him all that much." When what some people don't see is that it's exactly the opposite - I love him even more.

Hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there, though.

4:14 PM  
Blogger The Girl said...

I've been waiting for this post for months :) I'm glad to hear that it was so wonderful for both of you. I'm also glad you enjoyed Kentucky!! haha

4:35 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Good Job . . . it brought back memories of R&R like it was yesterday. Thanks for sharing the photo too!

Heidi

5:28 PM  
Blogger Homefront Six said...

Yay!!! I'm so glad it was a good 2 weeks :) And the picture is great!

My prayers are with you that the last few months of this deployment are quick and he comes home safely.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I normally won't comment on the personal posts, but I am glad you had a nice time and were able to be together again. I'm sure he misses you just as much.

And I'll try not to make any Kentucky jokes :)

10:45 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

What a wonderful picture - you two look terrific together. I'm glad that the 2 weeks were so good! I was beginning to worry a bit when you didn't say anything that all hadn't gone so well and my heart would have hurt for both of you.

I hope the second half of the deployment flies past faster than the first part did. Oh yeah, and I'm really glad you enjoyed his family - it makes life so much easier. *grin*

10:51 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

*Happy sigh*

Just like the annoying little kid in the backseat who keeps asking, "Are we there yet?" I find myself asking....is it October yet? Is it November yet? Yada, yada yada - you get the picture.

You know I find time is never on my side. I'm either wishing time would go faster, or stand still. But here's to the next several months flying as fast as a Chinook!

2:17 AM  
Blogger dwitt said...

Is that the Cincinnati, OH skyline in your photo? If so, I hope you two sampled some Cincinnati Chili and Graeters' ice cream! Best wishes. dwitt

2:54 AM  
Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

Dewitt,

Yes, that is! That picture was taken from Convington, KY. And I had Skyline's 2x (a 5-way)...and Graeters' once. I had something with peanut butter and chocolate. And I just finished my box of buckeyes...*sniff*.

9:37 AM  
Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

A paper sack! Your Dad makes me laugh! (I read your post about the Apple II, too!)

Having been on the other side of the "walk" (plane to girl), the whole event sounds so familiar. It's weird coming home, 'cause you've been in a truly _foreign_ environment and come home to the _familiar_. It is almost hard at first to realize everyone else's happiness ... sounds weird, but true for me.

It did take me a day or two to adjust back.

Well, glad to get a chance to laugh at your Dad's line, and read this from "the other side".

Take care!

8:45 AM  

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