My Wifey

When our guys are deployed, we all need a wifey. I didn’t know what a “wifey” was until this last deployment, when I heard friends saying it and it immediately clicked. A wifey is the first person you call when you have something exciting to share or good news to tell. A wifey is also the first person you call to talk you down from the ledge when you’re going through the worst of the deployment blues. Often times, your wifey is the only person you’ll want to see during this time, because she’s the only one that truly “gets it.” Her boyfriend/husband/fiancé is more than likely going through the same thing, and you can be together to talk about how much it sucks (without being annoying), talk about everything but deployment (when you need to get your mind off it), or to not talk at all.

In my experience, a wifey is basically your husband’s replacement while he’s deployed. You can vent, eat with, laugh, cry, be excited, be miserable, and not worry about being judged by your wifey. You still have your family and other friends, and talk to them and rely on them as you always did, but when your lover is missing, you need your wifey. And when you find her, your friendship will last for the rest of your lives.

On Joshua’s first deployment to Iraq, I met a girl through an online Marine wife support group, Kim. Kim lived in Maine and I lived in New York, and we only saw each other once the entire time our men were gone. But we had the phone… and email… and Facebook. And even though we don’t talk now as often as we did then (her lover is now out of the military), I was invited to Kim’s wedding a year or so ago. I couldn’t attend, but then this past Christmas Kim contacted me and asked me to design a newlywed Christmas card for her and her husband. I love Kim!

On Joshua’s second deployment to Afghanistan, I was lucky to have a few really close friends… Genna, Debbie, Liz, Kristine… they were all awesome girls who offered great support. But my #1 wifey was and always will be Felice. We have a different relationship, because we met in the 5th grade and we’ve been friends for over 15 years now! I basically consider Felice to be my sister. I don’t have any sisters, and Felice is my closest friend because we’ve both laughed and fought together over the years, and been through so much together.

A couple summers ago, Felice was planning to spend her vacation between nursing school in North Carolina. Joshua and I suggested she meet up with Christian, his closest friend in the Corps, for a “summer fling.”

Well… their summer fling turned into so much more. Felice has since graduated nursing school, moved down to North Carolina permanently, and is planning their wedding for this coming August! And you’ll never guess who her maid-of-honor is. ;-)

Anyway, Christian just deployed unexpectedly last week, and as I type this my wifey is on her way up here to spend a few days with me! I’m so happy she’s coming, I’ve missed her so much!

A wifey is the person who reads your blog when you first start it and you don’t have any followers, then calls you instead of leaving a comment to let you know she’s read it. I love you, wifey!

Life After Deployment

[Note: I’ve had this post written for almost a month now. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to share it, since it’s quite personal and hard for me to write. But after a fellow mil•spouse blogger posted a similar post, I’ve decided to share mine as well.]

Since this blog began as a deployment blog to help me share and connect with others while my fiancé was in Afghanistan, I think it’s only fair to do a follow-up post on how life really is after deployment. One thing I learned after his first deployment to Iraq was that things don’t go completely back to normal when they first return… it’s never the fairy tale romance we expect.

First off, let me say that life after deployment has been FABULOUS. I love it— I love having him here with me, safe in our home every night, up early to work every morning. I love being together— we have so much fun! We go places together, we work out together, we eat together, we stay in together.

But we also both have our own lives. And we balance each other out. He’s here for me to bounce ideas off, to show my latest projects to, to ask his opinion or advice about my work or my latest endeavor. I’m here for him to talk about his day at work, the people, the PT, the scheduling, routines and online classes.

When Joshua first got home from Afghanistan, I think I had a harder time adjusting than he did. Weird, right? Well, from day one, Joshua has always taught me to prepare for the worst. Prepare for the absolute worst case scenario in every situation, because that way if something better happens, you won’t be disappointed and you won’t be overly hopeful in the process.

When we first found out that Joshua would be deploying to Afghanistan, he told me that he probably wouldn’t be coming home. Of course I had the appropriate freak-out session and cry-fest, followed by the obligatory anger and resentment and impending fear. He apologized, said not to think of it like that, told me he’d do what he could to come home and that he truly wanted to come home. I set it all aside so no more arguments or tears would ensue, but it stayed with me every day thereafter and throughout the entire time he was deployed.

I really believed he wasn’t coming home. When I did get the sporadic phone call from him, I always answered and said goodbye as if it was the last time I’d ever speak to him. So many days, there were more and more stories from the news and the wives in the battalion of Marines getting injured, blown up, or killed. So many days, I stood in my family room stalking the front window, nervously staring up and down my street looking for the black car with the suited ones telling me my beloved was not coming home.

Even the day of homecoming, when I heard he’d landed in the U.S., I was afraid the plane would crash on its way to North Carolina. Even after he landed in North Carolina, I feared the bus on its way to base would be overtaken by the floods and awful rainfall we experienced.

And then, he was home. For the first week, I was afraid I was dreaming and I would suddenly wake up and it wouldn’t be real. That was hard! What was also hard was adjusting to living together. This is the first time we’ve lived together, and as most of you know that alone takes a whole lot of getting used to!

So there have been lots of times when I needed “my space,” because sometimes it’s hard to be on my game/happy/supportive all the time. There have been nights where I haven’t wanted to cook, and days where I haven’t wanted to clean up the house. When he first got home, I felt like I was striving to be perfect at everything, to show him that I will be a good wife. Perfect at cooking, cleaning, working, entertaining, loving, relaxing, etc.

It’s honestly taken a few months for me to finally feel normal, and like I could let my hair down for a bit. It took me awhile to realize I don’t have to be perfect for him, and he doesn’t expect that (thank goodness). If I don’t feel like making dinner a few nights a week, we order take out or go out to eat. If I’ve had a busy day freelancing and didn’t clean up the house, we wait until the weekend and clean up together. We visit with friends when we want to and we like to, not because we have to. And it’s fun!

Joshua is a perfectionist too. He hasn’t really cooked at all since he’s been home… which is fine, but I think it’s because he’s afraid of messing up in the kitchen or making a meal that doesn’t taste good. He came back from Afghanistan with a really positive attitude… much different from the one he left with! He’s optimistic a lot and happy more… he says it’s because he has a new appreciation for everything after what he experienced on deployment. This is good. :-)

We have our good days, we have our bad days. We have days when we fight, and days when we can’t get enough of each other. But always, the good days outweigh the bad, and he really is the love of my life. He makes me feel like I’m the love of his, too, and we couldn’t be happier together. It’s been a long road to get here and I’m sure it will be much longer into the future, but things feel right. They feel balanced.

To those of you going through a deployment or whose loved ones have just gotten home… be patient. Stay true to yourself. Be open. Make compromises.

And be sure to give him a helluva lot of lovin’.  ;-)

The 10-Hour Homecoming!

He’s home! After 7 long months, my beloved has made it home in one piece from Afghanistan. I’ve been so busy loving him up and reconnecting with him that I haven’t made the time to blog, and it’s been wonderful!

The night Joshua’s company was supposed to arrive, we were given an arrival time of 10pm to be waiting on base for them. As always with the Marine Corps… his arrival didn’t actually happen until 5 hours after that time. Funny story…

So I spent the day of his arrival cleaning house, primping (shaved, showered, waxed my lip, white stripped my teeth, pore stripped my nose, lotioned, painted my nails, flat ironed my hair, did my makeup, TMI?, etc.), cooking and baking. Yes. The weather outside was horrendous… absolutely horrendous. It literally would not stop pouring rain. Thick, heavy, loud rain. I waited half the day to take out the trash and finally just layered up in my rain boots, windbreaker, and umbrella and did it. I still came back drenched!

Around 7pm, Felice was over at my house while I was running around like a crazy woman, and we decided to leave to go to her house since it’s a bit closer to base. Then, a friend called and told us there was flooding everywhere and it would take forever to get on base, so we should leave earlier than planned.

Leaving the island was a bit ridiculous. The gated entrance to our condo community was flooded so high, I didn’t think I’d be able to get out. The water was up against my car doors and it was scary! Once we got to Felice’s and our friend Kristine met us there to also meet her Marine, she told us the main gate to base was CLOSED due to FLOODING!

[Cue panic attack.]

We left five minutes after receiving that info, hoping that the gates would reopen and we could get on base before they closed them again.

Two hours later, we got on base.

It wasn’t because the gate being closed, no. Halfway to base (with Kristine in her car, followed by me in my car, then Felice in her car), traffic completely stopped. We sat there for what felt like an eternity before a cop stopped us and told us the road was closed.

[Continue panic attack.]

Not only did he tell us said road was closed, he told us every road to base was closed and our “best bet” was to just “go back where we came from” and “wait it out.”

Um, no sir, I’ve been waiting 7 months, this isn’t a matter of just “going back where I came from and waiting it out.”

I must have been staring at him with such wide eyes and my mouth dropped so low, that a female cop then came over and informed me, “We just finished rescuing a person whose car was overtaken by the flood. No one can go through this way.”

Mmhm. So! After a frenzied game of calling each other cell phone to cell phone in the middle of horrific rain while trying to get to our deployed men, Felice told us all to follow her. Thank God for Felice, I just have to say this right now. She’s incredible with directions, and despite the fact that she just moved here from New Jersey… she knew what she was doing! Granted, we had to drive nearly an hour north and then back south to get there, but we got to base! The main gate was reopened, and we arrived right on time, around 10pm.

Kristine & I, ready to go
Our friend Debbie, myself and Felice… waiting at the gym
Home at last!

Five hours later, around 3am, our Marines marched into the gymnasium where we all awaited them. By then, our hair had frizzed out and our makeup had rubbed off. Well, at least mine did. My eyes were red from being tired and worried and anxious, and my face hurt from smiling too much at all the new people I met while waiting.

I don’t quite know what took so long for them to arrive… the flooding for one, of course. Their buses had to trek through it as well. The armory, as well. The armory always takes hours on end. After a brief formation, the Marines were released and given back to us.

I was standing on the side of the gym behind Joshua, so he didn’t see me. I grabbed the back of his daypack so he wouldn’t get away too quickly, and he turned around, and we had our first hug… then kiss.

We couldn’t go right home, because he had to get all his bags and then wait for all his Marines to get their bags. Then, once we were ready to go home, we weren’t even sure we’d be able to because of the flooding. It took another 2 hours, but we were home by 5am. I made him some food, showed him around the condo, and we finally went to sleep later that morning.

The first week back felt like a dream. I didn’t believe it had really happened, that he was really home. This second week has still been dream-like, but it’s finally sinking in that he’s home, here, and we’re together.

We’ve had lots of company since he first got back, and more coming. So I must head off now to clean house again for our next house guests that are staying with us for the next week. I get a whole Saturday with my love! Life is very, very good right now. ♥

Best Apps for a Deployment

Best for deployment: Military Wife & Big Day!

Before Joshua deployed, I bought myself an iPod touch. I got it so I’d have some games, music, videos, etc. in case I ever got bored or to make the time pass by more quickly. I also found two of the BEST apps EVER for getting through a deployment. They both only cost $0.99 and are well worth the pennies!

My top fave is the Military Wife Deployment Survival Guide. It’s hot pink camo and super cute. I never did the whole “donut of misery” a lot of girls do because I can’t stand Excel, which is why this app is soooo great. It does a little pie chart for you right on your iPod!

Seriously, how exciting is my most recent chart?!

It also tells you the time “over there,” and gives you the times for Afghanistan and Iraq.

So that and the pie chart are the two best features. There are some other cutesy things as well, like “Get Motivated!” and “Find My Zen!” quotes. There is a “Surprise Me!” part that you click on the box and it makes this sparkle noise and gives you a present. There is also a “cork board” where you can save your fave quotes and add photos. I didn’t really use that over the deployment but it’s there if you like it!

My second favorite app is the Big Day Event Countdown. There is also a lite version that is free, but I like the paid version because it supports multiple events. For me, that’s homecoming and our wedding! I love this app. You can upload your own photos as the background and move the little counter wherever you want on the screen.

These are older countdowns I caught screen shots of so I don’t violate OPSEC. I also removed the dates from the Military Wife countdown screen shot for the same reason. But they’re so fun!

This-Close

I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for 7 months and I can almost just almost let it out. I’m going to have to learn how to breathe again… How to walk without feeling like I’m tiptoeing around eggshells. How to sit without being on the edge of my seat. How to sleep… without my phone on the pillow next to me. How to get through an entire day without playing every worst case scenario over and over in my head. How to answer the phone without the first words from my mouth being “Are you okay and do you have all your body parts and did you get any concussions?!” How to say “I love you” without worrying it’ll be the last time I hear it back.

If these are the thoughts going through my head… which believe me, they are… I can’t even begin to imagine the thoughts going through his head.

The homecoming sign is waiting to be hung. The kitchen cupboard is stocked with all his favorite snacks. New bottles of shampoo and body wash are lined up neatly in the shower, new razors and toothpaste and a toothbrush on the shelf by the sink. I picked up all his favorite magazines and set them on the coffee table. I bought all the ingredients to make his favorite cookies. I’m washing all his clothes to freshen them up.

It doesn’t seem real. Will this really be over soon? Will he really be home again? Has anyone else ever felt this way, or am I just nuts? I wasn’t like this the first deployment… I was sane, I think. More sane than I am now. Oh, my.

It’s going to be an interesting ride!