Sunday, March 27, 2016

The best 72 hours

The 72 hours I spent with Pete in Virginia (during his final days of liberty before he departs for Afghanistan) were some of the best hours of my life, followed by some of the saddest as I returned home without him.

I arrived in Virginia on Thursday morning after 2 early flights, to signs proclaiming "Virginia is for lovers." I wonder about the meeting at which it was determined that this would be the state's motto*, but as far as places-to-see-your-husband-one-last-time-before-a-6 month-separation go, it's not bad. I met Pete at his unit's hotel, then we spent most of the day at Busch Gardens. Sometimes the military gives you insubstantial information and substancial inconveniences, sometimes they give you free tickets to amusement parks. We spent 6 hours riding roller coasters and eating soft pretzels and watching adorable dogs and cats who were rescued from shelters and trained to perform "Pet Shenanigans." Then we checked into the cabin Pete had rented for us on base. It was a pretty sweet set-up, with a kitchen, living room with fireplace, bathroom, two bedrooms and two porches, one screened and one open. We went out to dinner then watched a movie back at the cabin.

Friday we went to the gym on base, where we played some basketball, used the treadmill and these weird spin bikes that tilted from side to side, I guess to mimic the feeling of a real bike, and where I did 2 (Pete-assisted) chin-ups. Later we went to Pirate's Cove to play mini-golf and we both got a hole-in-one on the same hole! After golfing, we wanted to get ice cream so we stopped at The General Store which has a Haagen Dazs counter inside. But Pete noticed that the Haagen Dazs didn't open until 1:00 and it was only 12:30 when we arrived. Pete went outside to look up other ice cream parlors on his phone. I bought a bottle of water from The General store and asked the cashier what time the ice cream opened. She said she was new and didn't know, so she asked another employee. He said the Haagen Dazs opened at 1:00 but he could serve me some now if I wanted. Sweet! I thanked him and called Pete, who came back inside, and we got some pre-opening Dazs. After ice cream lunch, we went to the Go Ape zipline park/high ropes course. It was awesome! We got to spend 2 hours climbing up rope ladders, across cargo nets and rings and ziplining through the trees. Once we finished going ape, we went to Food Lion to buy burrito ingredients. Back at the cabin, we ate burritos and watched movies. 

Saturday morning we stopped for bagels then ran some trails at Yorktown State Park, which was peaceful and beautiful and reminded us of Ellison wetlands. We went back to the cabin to eat lunch and relax, then headed to Pete's favorite tavern (at the age of 40, he has discovered a love of calzones, which they serve at this tavern) to get dinner and watch the RIT hockey game on ESPNU. RIT lost at hockey but I won at eating pizza and crazy bread. 

On Easter Sunday, we went to Mama Steve's Pancake House for breakfast. The waitresses were wearing these weird colonial dresses and the pancakes were actually quite terrible, in the way that makes for funny memories in retrospect. And there's no one I'd rathet eat terrible pancakes with than Pete. We went back to Pete's hotel then, far too soon, it was time for me to drive to the airport. The weather had been sunny and warm for pretty much the whole trip, but it was overcast and rainy on Sunday. It was kind of comforting in a way; I felt like the sky was crying with me as I made my way back home alone. 

Well, not entirely alone. Pete had made me a copy of the dog tags he wears, one of which he'd had inscribed with "PETE AND JEN 09-06-2015 ON THE TRAIL." And whenever I look at them I think of what he said as we were hugging goodbye, "I love you and I'll be back and we're going to spend the rest of our lives together. And retire early." 

Pete also said this will make us stronger. I think that is true, even though if I could, I'd be tempted to fast forward over the next 6+ months to the day I finally get to see him again. I'd be tempted to wish that the Navy wasn't a part of our lives and our marriage. But I realize it's not that simple. Without the Navy, Pete wouldn't be the man I met and married, the man I love. Without this deployment, we wouldn't have had 72 hours of adventures and awesomeness in "the" place for lovers. Without this year of challenges and distance, we wouldn't become the people we'll be when we meet again, the Pete and Jen who can go any distance.

Lyric of the moment: "I been getting used to waking up with you. I been getting used to waking up here. Anywhere I go there you are, there you are...Everything is fine when your hand is resting next to mine..." ~Vance Joy "Fire and the Flood"

*I imagine it went something like this: "Ok guys, Virginia is for...? Elephants? Donkeys? Construction workers? No, wait, I've got it...Lovers!"

No comments:

Post a Comment