Homecoming. Not the one from high school where your football team played against the rival team and won big and then you went to a super awesome dance in your best clothes. I'm talking about the date-ever-changing, feels-like-the-first-time, stress-about-what-to-wear, shave-every-part-of-your-body, try-not-to-cry homecoming. You know the one ;)
It's the thing that every military spouse lives for (not everything leading up to it, just this one day) and the common theme is that everyone wants it to be perfect. Spouses clean their houses, buy new clothes, make signs, bring flowers, buy presents and go out of their way to make an already special day even more amazing. And most of the time, things go off without a hitch and everything is great. But I'm looking for the spouses who didn't have the picture-perfect romantic reunion that everyone craves. Because let me tell you, my first (and so far only) homecoming was probably the least romantic it could have ever been.
The Sailor was what you would call an "early bird" on his ship, where he flew home before the ship arrived so that he could take over for those on the ship when it finally came into port about 10 days later. I had ridden up from NC to Norfolk with the Sailor's parents in my nice red dress with my hair and makeup done just right for 3.5 hours to get to the airbase where he would be coming in. So we arrive to the gate and find out that no one has let them know that civilians would be coming on for a homecoming so we can't get on (this is before we were married, so I didn't have a military ID). Unsure of where we were or what to do, we park at the closest NEX right near the gate and wait to hear from the Sailor.
About an hour into waiting, I get a message from him saying their flight was delayed and they would be arriving hours later than they had planned. We continue waiting in a parking lot in the middle of July and try to figure out how to get him to us after their plane landed. The Sailor contacted me and said that he could get a ride from his chief out to where we were in the parking lot. Hours later, we see a car coming up to us and out comes the Sailor, his chief and his chief's wife. He's not dressed in his whites, or any uniform at all, just a long sleeve shirt and shorts. And with everyone watching, he gives me a hug and a kiss. His chief and chief’s wife leave, and we take some pictures in the parking lot with his parents. The Sailor seemed out of it and not very into pictures, so we get in the car and head home. We stopped for some lunch along the way and arrived in Durham that night. The Sailor was exhausted and slept most of the way back in the car. His parents dropped us off at my apartment and fairly soon after we went to sleep. It was Sunday and I had to work the next day.
Looking back on that day, it’s kind of funny how terrible everything was up until I got to see my Sailor. It gave me a large reality check and made me realize that homecomings don’t always look like the ones in tv or movies. They don’t even look like everyone else’s! Everyone’s homecoming will be different, even for people on the same ship. I was so jealous of the families of the sailor’s who came back on the ship because there is large pomp and circumstance surrounding a ship homecoming. Even though the Sailor came back weeks before them, which is totally irrational! What I’m actually trying to say is that even though almost nothing went right during that homecoming day, at the end my Sailor was home and safe back with me. And that’s all that really matters.
I’d love to hear your homecoming horror stories! Please tell me not everyone else’s was picture perfect?