love story: it'll be okay [part four]

during the crazy that is wedding week, i thought i'd share the story of how Ben and i met and fell in love. our love story, if you will.
these are scheduled posts because i'm not crazy enough to try to blog and get married at the same time.
don't you worry.
if you'd like to follow along with wedding week in real life time, as it happens, i'll be  the bride tweeting and instagram-ing away at @wildchild_jack.
[you can find the beginning parts of our love story here].
happy reading!

so things between Ben and i were over. but then, as quickly as it seemed to fall apart, it fell back together. we decided to start again, take things slow and then re-evaluate in a little bit. 

taking things slow to us apparently meant going to Winter Formal together the next night [which was one of the most awkward things i've ever done] and then going on a road trip to New York City together the next weekend. we already had tickets booked and plans in place, and we're both a little crazy, so we decided to hell with it, why not just go? as much as i believe that that one road trip back in May changed things between us, this trip did even more. we got back into our groove, got comfortable with each other again, and started falling in love again. something about New York at Christmas time makes you want to make things right.

a few weeks later, after a night of Sherlock Holmes at the theater, Tim Horton's hot cocoa and an "i love you" finally exchanged again, we knew we were going to be okay. we spent the next months learning how to be a winter couple too. we built things up again, trusting and loving and hoping for the best. those next six months were a little rocky, to be honest, but a lot of fun. we played in the snow and went ice skating when it was still cold. i got even closer with Ben's friends and they slowly turned into my friends too. as it got warmer, we went for so many walks, and to so many bonfires and as he learned to skateboard, i sat on the stoop and kept him company through a zillion failed ollie's. things between us slowly became better and stronger than they were even before.

when school ended that year, panic set in. i was planning on spending my summer working and living on campus, like Ben did the year before, but he wasn't going to be around this time. he was set to leave for Air Force basic training on June 2. the three weeks in between the end of the semester and our personal D-day were spent going for bike rides, making dinner together, moving his stuff home from school, watching the series finale of LOST [never mind that i hadn't seen a single other episode] and spending time with his family. our one year anniversary happened to fall on Memorial Day, so we spent the day at the beach and when we came home, after i showered and got changed in my own room, i walked into his room to see rose petals on the floor and a table elegantly set with dinner. he lifted the tray open to reveal a hearty McDonald's meal, and we sat there eating our chicken nuggets off of fancy china, with candles lit all around. he gave me a heart necklace and a teddy bear in an Air Force uniform that he sewed his name onto and i gave him a book i had made of our year together and everything i'd miss about him while he was gone.

then on June 2, after a flight fiasco in the morning, we made our way to the airport together at 4 in the afternoon and i left alone. boot camp meant 8 weeks apart. 8 weeks of not seeing my boyfriend, getting to hear his voice only on the rarity that his instructor allowed him to call home, and being able to only rely on letters to communicate. i was beyond excited about getting so many letters, but about everything else, i was not. 

those 8 weeks were alright. i worked full time as a student office assistant on campus, sitting at a computer, making copies, and rushing over to check my mailbox on my lunch. checking my mailbox meant being close to Ben. whenever i saw a letter through the little glass window on my box, there was this squeal that involuntarily came out of me as i turned the dial as fast as i could to get it open. i'd open the letter on the walk to my car and then sit in my front seat with the windows down and the seat pushed all the way back as i read it. i was having as good of a summer as i could without him, but those letters were what kept me going. i'd get out of work, go run on the elliptical for 30 minutes to prepare myself for our reunion and the bikinis that Texas in July would surely require, and then either go back to my room and read all night, or go over to Ben's sister and brother-in-law's apartment. sometimes i went out with my friends, sometimes my little sister or best friend from high school would come over, and most of the time, i'd go home on the weekends, but what made that summer tolerable was knowing that towards the end of it, i'd see Ben again.

finally, it got to the middle of July and i could start packing for my trip to San Antonio, Texas. i flew down by myself and sat next to some boys that were headed to boot camp themselves, so we spent the flight getting to know each other, them asking me questions about basic and me telling them stories i'd heard through Ben. it was nice to have some company when i was so jittery and it seemed like a good sign that i met those boys, but the second that we touched down in San Antonio, i took off and didn't look back. i got to the shuttle van as fast as i could, checked into my hotel as fast as i could, met up with Ben's parents when they arrived and anxiously awaited the next morning, when i knew i'd be able to finally see my boyfriend again. 

on that Friday morning, we arrived at Lackland Air Force Base and they proceeded to make us wait HOURS before we could have our reunions. there was a parade, there were hours waiting in the sun, there was a ceremony, and then finally we heard "loved ones, go get your Airman". you had better believe i was running down those bleachers as fast as my little legs would take me. Ben's dad hugged him first [which i'm still a little bitter about], but when i locked eyes with that boy for the first time after 8 1/2 weeks, you had better believe that my heart was fluttering. those next few days that we got to spend together were heaven. there were more ceremonies and more rules about when and where we could and couldn't see him, but every possible second together was eaten up. he had to wear his dress blues all weekend, which meant we were allowed barely any PDA, which meant every time we got into the car, the first thing we did was reach for each other's hand. that part wasn't my favorite, since we're a pretty affectionate couple and i hadn't touched him in EIGHT WEEKS, but it was alright. just being around him finally was enough.

i had to come back home after a few days and he had to stay there. we tearfully kissed goodbye, but we knew that this time would be a little bit shorter and that it'd be easier. this time, he had his phone and could call whenever he wanted. we could Skype, we could text, we could talk every damn day finally. it was still hard, especially because he was sick right when i left and there was one message he left me that broke my heart when i heard how awful he was feeling, but overall, it was do-able. i finished up work for the summer, classes started again and he finally came home at the end of September. he came home and everything was okay.

our NYC trip, after everything happened.
post-ice skating loving
on a spring time picnic
anniversary beach trip
a favorite from a photo shoot Ben's sister did for us
and finally reunited.


Alyssa said...

I'm loving reading your story!!! And I'm so excited to hear all about your big day. You'll definitly be in my thoughts :)

Amy - Book Monster said...

Oh my GOD. Basic training was the WORST. I didn't hear from Aaron until the 6th week. And running to meet him in the sea of Airmen that looked EXACTLY like him? Stressful. We should compare stories of in-laws and the Air Force. I've got some doozies.