About six months ago my husband returned from his third deployment overseas. True to military life: the deployment, homecoming and reintegration have been a rollercoaster of a ride, and I don’t think I’m getting off just yet….
These are the jabs, pushes, pulls, twists and turns of the feverish temperament of my current love state. Some of you may be thinking this sounds very familiar. Let me count the ways I have fallen in love over and over again with this man.
The first time we fell in love was at AIT (Advanced Individual Training) that took place in Fort Gordon, Ga. AIT is the schooling after boot camp to learn the job one will do for the Army. It was about two months after being there that I first noticed him…I mean REALLY noticed him. He was a platoon leader, standing front and center in front of the whole company, receiving his recognition for being soldier of the month for the battalion. He was good looking, an obviously quality individual, and he had an intense look in his eyes.
At the time I probably would have described that look as ambitious, determined and focused. One night when I went to watch TV I found him playing pool alone in the rec room, and I eventually asked him if he wanted to go a round. What I learned that night, besides the fact that he was an excellent billiards player, was that those eyes were also very kind, genuine, liked to laugh, and went wonderfully with his beautifully dimpled smile. SWOON!
It was ALL GOOD, and just like our love life now it was a whirlwind of crazy and magnificent emotion all at once. Those familiar with love found on military time…it happened fast and furious! We had a total of four months together before he left. When he graduated I still had another two months to go. Both of us being National Guard, we would go straight home once we were done. So for me that is exactly what happened. The only difference was that I did not come home alone. My dimpled Texan transferred out of his Guard unit and came home to California with me.
A marriage and a couple of kids later, we went through the typical ups and downs that all couples go through. He travelled often working full-time for the Guard, and as a dual military couple there were challenges. In order to put food on the table and a roof over our head, his career became his main focus. Raising our two boys and finishing college was mine.
I eventually graduated with my Bachelors degree and went to work full-time for the Guard, which was right before deployment #1. Three years after 9/11, it was time for our Guard unit to deploy. That first homecoming came and went without a big love story. I think we were both just happy to have survived it.
Falling in love the second time came after the struggles of homecoming number two. There were major challenges. I realized, “oooh, ouch, that’s what is meant by reintegration.”