+Monday, March 28, 2005+
Oi. What a Monday it's been! You know that saying that you never know what you had till it's gone? I came home to an empty house after spending the weekend with my in-laws and absolutely rejoiced. I made myself a nice big DiGiorno pizza and lounged around in my pajamas watching "Legally Blonde 2" for this must certainly be heaven. Having the house to myself, that is.

It wasn't until I went to bed that I tried to recall the last time I'd spent a night completely alone in that house. My dog growling at a dream had my heart thumping and me sitting up in bed like a 5-year old with uncontrolled fears of the Boogeyman. The house was so QUIET it was almost too eerie. I always complain about my roommate, but until now I've never realized how grateful I am to have someone sharing the house with me. Most military wives have their kids to keep their house alive with the sounds of every day life; those who don't, I can understand why they'd be inclined to spend a hefty portion of the deployment living back at home with their parents. I'm glad to have the house to myself for the week, but I have no doubts now that if I had the house to myself for the entire year, I'd probably go nuts. Like put me in a straight jacket and commit me to a room with padded walls nuts.

Needless to say I didn't sleep very well last night. I couldn't stop thinking about how quiet the house was; I couldn't stop being a big scaredy cat. I kept waking up every hour from a quick restless sleep, and when I finally fell asleep for the last time at 5:30, I didn't wake up again until 7:20. Quite a predicament considering I leave for work at 7:30. So far this hasn't been the best way to start off a week, but luckily the day was busy and went by relatively fast.

Matt called me Friday at around midnight, and in a groggy and disoriented state, I hit the wrong button on my cell phone and hung up on him. You can bet I went from groggy and disoriented to wide awake and upset in a matter of miliseconds. I hadn't heard from him for over a week, and my dumb ass had just gone and hung up on him!!! I cried over my cell phone for a few minutes, begging Matt to call back as if he could hear me, when thankfully he called back on our house phone.

He sounds like he's been incredibly busy - working 10 hour days and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. He'd sacraficed his lunch break to get to the phone tent so he could call me, and while I felt bad that he was going without a meal for my sake, it was so incredibly good to hear his voice and know that he's okay. He said he'd been worried about me and how things were since it'd been so long since we'd last talked (HE was worried about ME...hehehe) and promised that he'd try to make the time between his next phone call much shorter. Oh, how badly I'd needed just to hear his voice, to have that contact and know that he's okay. I feel much better now. :-) It's strange to have such minimal communication, to be pushed back in time to the days when a girl actually had to wait for a boy to call.

Going to see Matt's parents this weekend was the most therapeutic thing I could've done next to hopping on a plane to Afghanistan and actually seeing Matt. I've never spent time with Matt's family without Matt and was worried about whether or not it would be awkward, but it wasn't. Not even a little bit. It was just as natural as if it were my own family. The drive was quite lonely and unfamiliar without his company, and I found myself talking to him anyway as if he really were there, sitting next to me in the passenger seat. Am I losing my mind? LOL.

On Sunday I got to see Matt's grandma, and while I was sitting in the living room talking weddings with his sister and mom, his grandma said, "It's just so normal with you here, Erika. It's like you've always been a part of our family." As you can well imagine, that made me feel really great. They ARE my family - my "other" family - and I'm grateful for the close relationship I have with them. Matt's mom sent me home Sunday afternoon with an entire cherry cobbler for myself, some cheesecake, some lemon pie, and a chocolate bunny for Easter. I think they're trying to fatten me up!

Matt's mom and I got to exchange our "Matt stories," and I love him all the more hearing about what a little brat he was when he was a kid. I constantly stopped in their hallway to admire the family photos they have hanging up on their walls and have officially decided that had Matt and I gone to the same high school, I would've had an enormous crush on him. He was a regular high school hottie (dreaded teenage acne and all!!). I've seen hoards of pictures of Matt from the time he was a baby up until the time I met him, but I never get sick of looking at them. I love learning about the part of his life I'll never be able to be a part of as it's already come and gone.

I washed my car on Saturday before heading out. It was probably a little silly since I knew it was going to rain, but my car was so disgustingly messy inside and out, it would've been humiliating for his parents to have seen it that way. I also got my license plate frame on Friday, so I was able to add it to my already supportive car just in time for my trip. Here's a picture of my beautiful, supportive haven :-) (I accidently blurred out some of the frame when I was censoring my plate number, but it's not too bad):

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wishing matt was here @ 5:55 PM+

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+Thursday, March 24, 2005+
I'm so sad right now I can hardly function. It's been a week today since I last talked to Matt, and I wouldn't mind it so much if I didn't feel like it was being rubbed in my face. I know it's NOT, I know it's probably crazy of me to even think that, but my heart aches because of it, and that's how I feel. I'll explain...

For the most part, the families of my FRG are from Reno, but there's a handful in Vegas and even one in Texas, so someone got the idea to start up a Yahoo! group so that we could stay informed and email each other for support inbetween our monthly meetings (and it comes in handy for those who aren't in Reno and can't attend the meetings). It was fine at first, I suppose, reading email after email of families pouring their hearts out; I opted to keep my responses to a minimum as I personally feel like some of these women are sharing too much information. I won't elaborate, but I'm sure you can imagine. There's parts of mine and Matt's relationship that aren't for the general public. I won't share them here, and I won't share them with the folks in my FRG because frankly, it's no one else's business.

But I digress. As of late, I HATE this "email support." I dread checking my email because of it. I'll have to log on and read how so-and-so heard from her husband 3 times today, and how such-and-such got flowers from her hubby for Easter. I know they're only sharing their happiness with the group, I know it's not meant as a "ha ha, my husband called and yours didn't," but for the same reasons I chose not to tell Matt's mom how often I heard from him while he was at Ft. Sill, I don't want to hear about how often these women hear from their men.

It's not jealousy, per se, and it's not causing any aggravation toward Matt as I know he'll call when he gets the opportunity and I know it doesn't mean he misses me any less (in fact, I get comfort from the knowledge that he loves me and misses me just as much as I do him), but it has come to feel like they're gloating. Matt and I can't afford the $4.99/minute it costs to make a call on a cell phone from Afghanistan. I cherish the times we get to talk on the phone and put just as much love into my letters and care packages as I do into our conversations, but it's an unfamiliar feeling that gnaws at my heart a little every time I hear about those few who have the luxury of talking to their soldiers almost every day.

What I should be focusing on is the vast majority who don't hear from their soldiers every day, the other families who can't afford the atrocious cost of an international cell phone call, the families whose soldiers have to wait in line for the phones just like Matt, but it's hard when I have to read about the rest in my inbox every day. I keep my mouth shut (or rather my hands away from the keyboard?), but I have to wonder if they ever think about how it affects the rest of us, and moreover, I wonder if it even affects the "rest of us" the way it's affected me. I don't know how to put into words what it is I'm feeling - I'm not mad at Matt for a lack of calls nor do I really think I'm jealous. I'm mad at the people who find it necessary to send out an email to the entire group every time they hear from their men without taking into consideration those of us who have to wait for a call because we can't call them, those of us who only get to talk to our guys when they have the time to stand in line and wait for a phone. Am I being completely out of line here? Perhaps what I should be doing is feeling happy for them instead of being selfish, but I can't help but feeling what they're doing is wrong. Before, the emails were all about how sad we were and how much we missed our loved ones, and now it seems it's become a contest of whose gotten the most phone calls.

Nonetheless, I don't really mind so much not hearing from Matt every day. I think in the long run, I'll even be grateful for it. We have more to talk about when he does call, and because of their inconsistency and the time I have to wait between them, each and every phone call is meaningful and special. A rarity is a hard thing to ever take for granted. And of course, we can't forget the old cliche that absence makes the heart grow fonder. :-) It's just that feeling of having it "rubbed in" that's made me uncomfortable, and I'm not really sure if I'm just being selfish and blowing this out of proportion or if there's any validity in the anger I'm feeling toward those who seem to have made a contest out of this.

Next week is my spring break, and even though I still have to work, I love spring break for allowing me to go straight home after work every night. Instead of sitting in rush hour traffic to go to the campus so I can spend a few hours feigning interest in rocks, I can go home and be lazy. On top of that, The Roommate and her boyfriend are going out of town, so not only do I get to come home after work every day, I get to have the house to myself for the week! I haven't yet decided how to celebrate this, but I think I will by allowing myself to be an absolute slob for the week. We'll see...

Any insight that can be given regarding my feelings toward my FRG's emails would be much appreciated, even if it's just, "Erika, you're looking way to deep into this. You need to get over it." At least then I'd know I'm being ridiculous LOL. I'm hoping to hear from Matt within the next couple days, and if not, at least I have a nice long boring class to write him a letter in! :-)

wishing matt was here @ 2:45 PM+

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+Wednesday, March 23, 2005+
There's a "Chicken Soup" book for pretty much every subject imaginable, and this one came just in the knick of time. It's not released until April 1, but you can bet I preordered my copy, and thought I'd share it with my fellow military wives/fiances/girlfriends. :-)

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wishing matt was here @ 9:40 PM+

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+Tuesday, March 22, 2005+
When I woke up this morning, I got a little worried because I saw I had a missed call on my cell phone. Sometimes I sleep through my phone on nights when I'm dead tired; in fact, out of fear that I would ever sleep through a call from Matt, I set up a "sleep" profile with the most obnoxious ring turned up to the loudest volume. I recollected my phone waking me up, though, and hitting the "silent" button when I saw that it was just my friend H. I would've beat myself up over it if I'd slept through a call from Matt. In the past 2+ months, my cell phone and I have become inseparable.

I think I'd decided before I even woke up that I'm not going to go to class tonight. Bad, I know, but it's just one of those nights that I need for me. The Roommate's had a girlfriend in town visiting and what was supposed to be just a night or two turned into a week. Supposedly The Girl was leaving last night, but that didn't happen either - she was still sleeping on my couch when I left for work this morning. And it's not that I can't stand The Girl - she's polite enough and nice enough, I guess - but I feel like my house has been invaded. They were up till 2 in the morning on Sunday screaming across the living room to each other and thus proving that if things get loud enough, sandwiching your head between two pillows doesn't work very well. The Roommate works till 8 tonight, and I've decided that instead of going to class, I need to go direcly home after work and relish in the house being MINE at least for a few hours.

I ended up not going to visit my in-laws this weekend as planned. The first day of Spring here in Reno was preceded by snow and lots of it (actually, it rained in Reno, but it snowed in the mountains). The roads weren't closed, but my Jetta wasn't the right vehicle to make the journey. Chains were mandatory on all roads leaving the valley, and my dad called right before I left and being the overprotective loving father he is, basically forbade me from making that drive unless I took Matt's truck, which of course I couldn't because Matt's truck isn't currently insured or registered. It mopes in the garage and wonders why I only drive it up and down the street once a week. Even his truck misses him.

Instead, I'm going this weekend for Easter which incidentally will probably work out better anyway as Matt's grandma will be there. Matt's grandma adores Matt. It's no secret that he's the favorite, and while I'm certainly no substitute for Matt, I know she'll be happy to see me. His family was very understanding in my reasons for not going to see them - his mom was the one who initially called me and said that she'd heard the roads were bad and that I shouldn't feel obligated to come if I couldn't make it.

Friday night I went out with a few of Matt's friends and had a great time. There's something almost soothing about hanging out with Matt's friends - they're a boisterous bunch of guys, but I feel more connected to Matt around them. They treat me like "one of the guys" when I spend time with them, like I'm just Matt's fill-in for the next year. I suppose hypothetically "being" Matt is one way to feel closer! LOL.

I went by Best Buy on Saturday after the weather decided it wasn't going to let me go visit Matt's family and bought more DVDs. It's like a crutch now. I miss Matt and am sad about it, so instead of solving my depression by eating or smoking or drinking or however many other ways people cope with depression, I buy movies! I successfully managed to sit on my ass all day Saturday (like it was hard to accomplish...pssh).

I had an FRG meeting on Saturday that I wasn't going to be able to attend because I was going to be out of town, but after much debate, decided still not to go even though I hadn't gone to visit Matt's parents. I'd already told our FRG leader and the RDC that I wasn't going to be there, even met up with the RDC so I could get all the paperwork that they'd be handing out (and finally got the car magnet ribbons with our unit on them), so there really didn't seem much point to going. The RDC also gave me a stack of American Legion stars for myself and Matt's family, but I went a step further and bought a yard sign with one on it that says "Proudly Serving America."

I've officially upgraded myself from "Proud Military Fiance" to "Damn Proud Military Fiance." I have my "Proudly Serving America" yard sign; my car is equipped with a yellow "Support our Troops" bumper magnet, a magnet that says, "Half of my heart is in Afghanistan," our unit's magnet, and a license plate frame that says, "I love you Matt God bless our troops." Incase that wasn't enough, I also have a cute baby doll T-shirt and a mug that say "Half my heart is in Afghanistan" (if you're interested, you can find all sorts of cool stuff at HalfMyHeart.com - there's products that cover Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait, so you're pretty much covered wherever your soldier is!). As soon as I get my license plate frame (I had to order it off the internet to get what I wanted engraved), I'm going to take a picture of our yard and my car to send to Matt so he never forgets just how loved he is!

I planned on going through Sunday as a sit-on-my-ass repeat of Saturday, but The Girl didn't want to go to work with The Roommate, and I didn't want to feel obligated to entertain her, so I left (I know, I'm so nice, huh?). It was rainy and dreary and cold, yet despite all this, I called up K (another fiance from my FRG) and we took our dogs to the marina. I spent most of the time griping about how cold I was because my dopey ass wore nothing more than a hooded sweatshirt when I should have been bundled up in my warmest winter gear, but I was still glad to get out of the house. Maybe sitting on my ass for 2 days in a row wasn't that good of an idea, and it was good to see K again - she's one of the only girls from the FRG that I've really been able to connect with so far, and even though I don't know her as well as my close girlfriends, she's so very much easier to talk to about this deployment since she's going through the same thing.

I wanted to share a new blog with everyone because it's the blog of a soldier who's also soon-to-be a part of TF Storm, and I was absolutely so smitten to finally have a blog from Afghanistan to read. You can check it out here, and there's also a link to it in my blogroll (A Storm in Afghanistan) so you can return often. :-)

I haven't talked to Matt since last Thursday, but I think I'm adjusting rather nicely to minimum amount of communication. I compensate by writing him lots of letters and making him videos; those are my connection to him, and they make me feel just as close to him as his phone calls do. I remind myself often that there's really no question of whether or not I can "make it." I will make it because I have to, because I love Matt and he's counting on me to be strong and supportive for him. We've both made a sacrafice for our great country, but he believes in the cause, and so do I. Sometimes you have to give more than you take.

wishing matt was here @ 2:45 PM+

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+Friday, March 18, 2005+
It should be noted that never, under any circumstances, should you send an email to every single member of an FRG whose soldiers are station in Afghanistan that says (and I quote verbatim from an email received in my inbox on Thursday morning): "No to scare everyone but didn't any one hear more details on the explosion in Kandahar?"

That's it. That was the entire email.

This email is in response to the bombing in southern Afghanistan that killed 5 Afghani people and injured many more, but of course I hadn't even heard about that yet when I got this message in my email. The fact that she started the email with "not to scare everyone" is absolutely atrocious; she knew damn well that it would strike fear in the hearts of every unfortunate soul who got that message in their email because it directly affected everyone it went to. The very least she could've done was RESEARCHED it a little more before sending out a mass email.

Such a vague email does not paint a pretty picture in my head, and I did what I'm sure every other wife/fiance/girlfriend in my FRG did upon receiving that email - I lost my mind. This bomb was a little too close for comfort. It seems like it's been so long since there's been any intentional malicious acts in Afghanistan that the news of this one caused a wrenching in my heart that I know I'll most likely have to feel again, but hope to God I don't. The most awful, suffocating fear took hold of my heart, and I started to panic. I had my first ever full-fledged panic attack.

I knew this would happen every time something bad happened over there. I vowed to avoid the news for the next year (as if that were somehow possible); "no news is good news" is my new mantra. I recite it to myself often just incase I ever forget that a couple weeks of no phone calls is better than a knock on the door. I jinxed myself with my last post about how "lucky" I've been in the consistency of Matt's phone calls - I haven't talked to him since Monday morning. And I can't say I was grateful that it was only Afghans that were killed - the fact that this happened at all is just terrible (haven't these people suffered enough??) - but it was relieving to know that no Americans were in the blast.

I managed to compose myself enough to check up on the story at a few different websites to be absolutely sure that there were no American deaths involved. If there were any questions about the wellbeing of our unit, I wouldn't have been able to make it through the day.

(For some reason when I made some changes to this page, half of this post got deleted. I don't know why, but I apologize!)

wishing matt was here @ 1:11 PM+

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+Tuesday, March 15, 2005+
I consider myself very lucky thusfar in the deployment. Well, "lucky" all things considered. So far Matt's called me pretty much every day since getting into Afghanistan, and I know further down the road when they start to get busy with missions or what have you, this may not always be the case, but for the time being, I'm loving it. He called me his first night in Afghanistan (actually it was Thursday night here, Friday morning there), and he's been able to call me just about every day since. Granted, I didn't talk to him on Sunday nor have I talked to him today, but nonetheless, so far I've talked to him much more than I ever expected to. For once the army has actually exceeded my expectations. It's a miracle.

He called me on Monday morning right after my alarm went off (it's probably not coincidental since he knows pretty well the time I wake up), and it was such a pleasant way to wake up - a call from the other side of the world! It was Monday evening there, and while his day was just winding down, mine was just beginning. He told me not to worry, that he'd already been through Monday and that it wasn't so bad. He's so cute. He cracks me up. It's so strange to think about how far away he is, and I generally try not to as it makes my heart hurt to fathom how many miles are currently separating us. I missed him tons while he was at Ft. Sill, but there's almost draining about him being in a different part of the world. He's not even in the same country as me; he operates on a different schedule, he sleeps when I work and vice versa. He's not even in the same DAY as me, and I miss him all the more because of the distance between us.

I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, but it's tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I'm still basically just getting into the "tunnel." I spent some time with my parents this weekend, and my dad took the liberty of reminding me how many other things I've waited for in my life - my 16th birthday, my 21st birthday, etc - and how quickly those came and went. Hell, I started counting down the days to my 21st birthday before I'd even turned 20. And I know in retrospect, I'll look back on this year and it won't seem so bad, but right now, it sucks. Matt tells me to be "timeless" and keep busy, yet it seems no matter what I do, I can't help keeping track of the days.

At this point it sounds like Matt should be home by April of next year (this is taking into consideration his demobilization, and being quite liberal with the length of that - hopefully he'll be home before April.) Originally they'd told us 3 months for demobe. 3 MONTHS! Before Matt left Ft. Sill, they were told 5 days. That's, you know, just a minor difference. Of course, keeping in tradition of the army, I'm not banking on anything. The countdown at the top of my page is counting down to April 1, 2006. Thank God next year's not a leap year. I think the extra day would be my own personal hell. I miss Matt so much. Everything I do every day is just an effort to make time go by faster. I hate that it's not physically possible to speed up the process.

I'm going to visit Matt's parents this weekend; I haven't seen them since Christmas and am actually really excited to get to spend the weekend with them. I have no doubts, however, that the drive will be painfully nostalgic of all the times Matt and I drove it, of all the conversations we had in those 2 hours. I was only going to go down for just a day, but his parents were insistent that I stay the night, spend some good quality time with them. They'll be the closest connection I have to Matt for the next year, and I'm grateful for their support and understanding. His mom misses him greatly; it's apparent how much she loves him and worries for him, yet she knows how hard it is on me in different ways, how I'm affected by the loneliness of an empty home, how I have to go day by day without a person who has been a consistent part of my life every day for more than 2 years, and she expresses her understanding of that. I'm so grateful for the relationship I have with Matt's family. I'll have very good in-laws :-)

The rest of my life has been pretty per usual since my return from Oklahoma. The first week back went insanely slow, but things have started to pick back up now that I'm getting back into my routine. I've even discovered a new addiction. America's Next Top Model. Yup. From the beginning of this "fad," I've never been a very big advocate of the whole reality TV craze. I thought Survivor was stupid, and I'll even admit that I don't see why American Idol has gotten so popular. The tryouts are a riot, but I lose interest after that. It might have a lot to do with my utter disdain for pop music, but American Idol has never struck my fancy. The only other reality show that I never missed an episode of was the first Bachelorette with Trista and Ryan, but didn't everyone love that season? I mean, it was Trista and Ryan. Given the circumstances of my feelings toward reality TV, I never would've even considered watching America's Next Top Model, except this season there's a girl from Reno - Noelle - and I know her. I don't know her in the sense that we were old pals that go way back, but she went to my high school, and in a high school of only 450 people, it's difficult not to somehow be associated with everyone. She was in my drama class.

So in light of someone I "know" being on a reality show, I decided to watch it. It's strange to see a familiar face on TV - oh my God, that girl took the part I wanted in our high school play. And I got sucked in almost right off the bat. Not even because I know this girl, but because the show itself is so catty and interesting. At the end of the day today I caught myself thinking, yes, tomorrow's Wednesday - America's Next Top Model! Yikes. I really am addicted, aren't I? Matt would get a kick out of it; he'd probably tease me endlessly (and most likely will when he cruises by my page and reads this post). See baby, this is what happens when you leave! :-)

I've been watching a lot of movies lately, too. On nights I don't have class, I come home from work and watch a movie. My DVD collection is slowly but surely growing into a fabulous library of romantic comedies. I love it! I suppose this is my way of coping - watching trashy television programming and happy love stories by the boat loads. Luckily the weather's been really nice lately and spring fever is starting to kick in, which is just about enough to peel my ass off the couch and take our dog to the park or go play some tennis with a friend. Without fail, winter always brings me down in the worst way. By the end of Reno's winter, my head is spinning from being couped up indoors for so many months - it starts to get cold usually around October, it warms up in March just long enough for everyone to start getting really antsy for summer, it gets bitter cold again in April, and snows in May over Memorial Day weekend. This is Reno's winter every year. Matt and I always bet on whether or not it'll snow in May - he bets it won't, I assure him it will. So far I've always won. If he was here to bet me this year, I'm sure I'd win again LOL. (Yes, baby, I'm gloating. I love you!)

Going to visit Matt's family this weekend is a great excuse just to get out of the house. My dad made me go skiing with him on Saturday, and I was glad just to have something to do that didn't involve TV, work, or school. I just want it to be summer again so I can quit moping around the house - no matter where I go or what I do, I always miss Matt terribly, but at least if I get out and DO things, time tricks me into believing that it's going by quickly.

wishing matt was here @ 10:27 PM+

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+Friday, March 11, 2005+
So first and foremost I must apologize for how long it's been since I've posted! I've been insanely busy since I got back from Oklahoma - everyone in my office thought they'd "help" out by attempting to do my job for me and in the long run, only created MORE work for me since now I have to go back and fix everyone's errors. Ah, se la vie.

Going to Oklahoma was...wow. Just wow. I can't even begin to describe how great it was to see Matt. Despite myself, I couldn't get excited on the plane; I kept thinking something bad was going to happen - the plane would get cancelled, delayed, or something worse, Enterprise would've lost my rental car reservation, my hotel room wouldn't be booked. I didn't want to get excited until I was IN Lawton, Oklahoma, sitting in my hotel room waiting to hear from Matt. Luckily, everything went very smoothly - I made my connecting flight in Phoenix with over an hour to spare, and we even arrived in Oklahoma City 10 minutes early (the first time I've ever had a pleasant experience with Southwest!).

My rental car reservation was, in fact, messed up, but it actually ended up working out in my favor. I had reserved a compact car - the cheapest - and they had none left. How do you not hold cars for the people who reserved them? I'll never understand how these different companies work. However, their err resulted in me getting an SUV for the price of a compact. Can't complain there! The hour and 15 minute drive between Oklahoma City and Lawton boasts a lot of cows, horses, big empty plains, and not one, but TWO toll booths (within 20 miles of each other).

When I got checked into my hotel room is when I actually started getting excited. I was in a position where the only thing that could go wrong was Matt not getting leave, but even if that happened, I'd still at least get to SEE him. I was at the hotel no more than an hour when Matt called my cell phone to find out what room I was in and tell me that he was en route via taxi. I couldn't sit still after that - got up and paced around the little hotel room till I heard that knock on the door and literally plowed over Matt as I ran into his arms. It was so strange to see him. It'd been nearly 2 months since I'd felt his arms around me. The last time I saw him was when a bus was taking him to the airport, away from me, and the fact that I was with him now, feeling his arms around me, was absolutely surreal. I started bawling. I can't put into words how happy I was; I couldn't even begin to describe the feeling of elation.

We picked up right where we left off. The first few hours were a little weird - not because things were awkward between us, but because it was so unrealistic that we were actually there together. In 4 and a half days, we saw all that good ol' Lawton, Oklahoma has to offer, we drove into Oklahoma City and spent a whole day there, exploring downtown, visiting the Oklahoma City bombing memorial, he showed me around the base. I fell in love with Matt all over again, and while we're merely at the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a long and stressful adventure, getting to see him before he headed overseas helped both of us so much. Aside from a small deployment ceremony we had to attend at Ft. Sill on Thursday, we were able to enjoy his 4 days of leave completely uninterrupted by the army.

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On our last night together, we went out for drinks and an enormous meal. Matt's "last meal" request was prime rib, his favorite, and the last time he'll be eating it probably until his R&R leave. I asked a gentleman sitting at the bar to take a picture of us (the one shown above where I'm grinning like an idiot), and shortly afterward, the bartender approached us and told us that the man who had taken our picture early would like to buy us a round of drinks. When Matt went to thank him for his generous offer, he told Matt that it was so apparent how in love we are, and how happy it made him to see young couples like us, so absolutely enthralled with each other. He said he and his wife had been together for 35 years, and he could tell that we'll be as in love 35 years from now as he still is with his wife, to always remember this and 35 years from now, if we see a couple as madly in love as we are, to buy them a round of drinks.

The waitress who served us told us how her husband was currently in Iraq - being that it houses Ft. Sill, Lawton is a very military oriented town. Everywhere we went were people who were in the same position as us, wives whose husbands were overseas. Another couple bought us a round of drinks, "from one soldier to another," and the night ended on a high note.

As of this moment, Matt is officially in Afghanistan. He left Wednesday evening, so you can imagine how well I slept that night. I said a rosary before going to bed, and woke up in an absolute panic. I honestly think I could literally feel that Matt was no longer in the same country as me. Though they're running on zulu time, Afghanistan is 12 and a half hours ahead of Nevada. It's such a strange thing to think about - he is on the complete opposite side of the world. Save for going into outerspace or perhaps going to a far east corner of Antarctica, it's not feasibly possible for him to get any further away from home than he is; if he heads any further east, he'll be slightly closer to home again!

I wasn't expecting to hear from him for at least a week, so imagine my surprise when he called me last night. He'd arrived safely in Afghanistan after a miserable 18 hour flight in a cargo plane; he said it was morning, but he had no idea on what day, that he was suffering so terribly from jet lag, but trying to stay awake as they only had a day to adjust. I was surprised at how crystal clear our connection was - I guess I expected him to sound distant, far away, like he is. I expected him to just be a small voice on the other side of the line, but aside from a really awful delay, it was actually more clear than the payphones he'd called me from in Oklahoma. However, the delay sucks terribly. That'll take some getting used to....

I miss him so much. Having to say goodbye again wasn't very enjoyable; after dropping him off at the base early Saturday morning (he was supposed to be there Friday night...shhhhh), I went straight to the airport in Oklahoma City even though my flight wasn't for another 5 hours or so, and proceeded to sit at my gate and cry and sob without any care for what the people around me must be thinking. Nonetheless, I'm so grateful that I go to see him that one last time before he left. The year has officially started, and now it's only a matter of waiting.

(On a side note, what do you guys think of my new template!?!)

wishing matt was here @ 9:53 AM+

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