We left off when I said yes. No, not the yes where we start planning our wedding. If you don’t know which one I mean, make sure you stop reading until you have caught up on part one and part two! Click the links below to read them:
Okay, now on to the major hiccup you have all been waiting for. Joel and I started dating in June 2010. Well, several months earlier before Joel and I were honestly even friends, he had decided to follow his brother’s lead and enlist in the military! He was scheduled to head to boot camp once he graduated high school.
Which meant, end of June 2010.
Yep! If you do the math, once we started dating, we literally had two weeks together to really figure out if we wanted to make this work long distance. Let me tell you, two weeks goes by very fast when you are trying to make that big of a decision!
We spent basically every single minute together.
Swimming. Going out for dinner. Hanging out with my family. Eating ice cream. Honestly, you name it, we probably did it. And it didn’t matter what it was, just as long as we were together.
As the day quickly drew near that we would have to say goodbye, we knew that we wanted to try to make it work! He was headed off to boot camp for 4 months, with the only communication being through letters, and I was headed off to my first year of college in August. But we made a promise to be there for each other and truly see if distance makes the heart grow fonder.
On our final night together before he headed out, we stood on my parents front porch like we always did. Talking about the day we had and struggling to say a goodbye. We knew leading up to this it would be tough, but I never imagined how tough it would truly be. I had only started dating this guy two weeks ago, but somehow I was hooked.
He reassured me we would be okay, and then it happened….
He pulled me in and gave me a kiss. Our first kiss. The one to let me know that no matter what he would always be with me. That we could make it through this! And then, just like that, he headed out. The last time I would see him for the next four months.
Somehow that kiss gave me all the reassurance I needed!
The next couple of days, as he was being processed, we were able to text on the phone here-and-there. If you don’t know, there is a lot of “sitting around” in the army as you wait for things to happen. Those times became my favorite because we could constantly text just to check in and say hi. He was filling out paperwork and getting all of his tests done before he could officially head to boot camp. It was interesting following along in the whole journey. I never knew what all went into it. Sadly though, once he headed down to Georgia phones became a privilege that was earned not very often (for the first two months he wasn’t allowed to have it at all).
So we had to get creative.
We started writing letters back and worth. At the end of each day, I would write to him, telling him everything that happened. New people I met in college, what I had for dinner, how volleyball was going, when I got to see my parents. You name it, I told him! And then the next day, I would head to the mailbox and send it out. Hoping to find one in my mailbox from him at the same time. Sadly, his were a lot less often.
You see, in boot camp, they only get mail on certain days, so he would get several from me and then respond to them all in one letter. The waiting period between his letters always felt like forever. But when they finally came, it was the best surprise in the world! He would tell me all about the guys, the punishments they would have, what things they ate each day, and all of the rules!
It was crazy!
One rule that was most important was that, with every letter you received in boot camp, you had to do push-ups before you could earn it. So me sending a different one every day, caused Joel to do quite a lot of pushups.
So I got smart, instead sending a letter every day, I would write one each day but would wait a week and then send them all together. Still the same amount of letters but less pushups for him. He was already doing enough physical labor, I didn’t want to make him do any more.
As the weeks continued on, slowly their ability to use their phones was granted more often, as long as no one would get in trouble. So we were able to do one (maybe two) phone calls a week, with a few texts in between. We took anything we could possibly get, but we still continued to write back and forth!
I wanted each of us to know what was going on for the other each day, even though we were apart.
Honestly, there really was never a time that we waivered about being together. We both truly wanted to make this work for the long run! We took each day one-at-a-time, knowing there was an end in sight but not dwelling on it.
Then the weekend finally came that he would be coming home. It was the end of October. I couldn’t get home from college for the weekend quick enough! Everyone at school was talking about what they were going to be for Halloween, and I was just worried about how soon I could leave. Each hour felt like forever as we waited. A few of his best friends came over to my parents’ house to welcome him home, as well.
I’ll never forget standing at the front door in my green army shirt. Hands clenched so tight together. Anxiously waiting for his headlights to come down the road! And then it finally happened! He stepped out of the car with the biggest smile on his face. It was finally here.
He was finally home!
Sorry, not sorry, for the bad quality!
What seemed like forever was finally over. But let me tell you, it was one of the best things for us. After making it through not talking everyday or not seeing each other for months, we knew we were committed to each other! We loved each other!
In total, I wrote him 96 letters! And we still have all of the letters each of us wrote in a box in our house. Always there for us to look back on to remember where it all began. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
But there were still so many great things to come for us. You’ll just have to wait till Part 4 to find out!
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