Friday, June 28, 2013

The Best 3,652 Days

We met through mutual friends during winter break of 1996.  I thought his dimples were adorable and he totally didn't notice me at all.  It wasn't until we went to see Jerry McGuire at the movies that I was able to make my move.  At the start of the movie we were separated by several friends on different sides of the row.  Me, being ever so sneaky and suave, "went to the bathroom" and came back and "couldn't get back to my seat".  By the end of the movie we were holding hands, the rest is history!  Well, sorta... 

We dated all through the rest of high school.  Homecomings, proms, his lacrosse games, my swim meets and softball games, lots of nights at friend's houses just being kids.  He tried to teach me to drive a standard transmission, I tried to get him to ride horses.  For teenagers we were remarkably drama free and truly had one of those fairy-tale romances where we loved each other, we loved each others friends, and we just had fun together. 
I had known all along that his dream was to go to the Naval Academy and become a military officer.  Of course, because teenagers have no sense of time, I thought that goal was a hundred years away and it was never on my radar screen.  Shamefully, I didn't even really know what the Naval Academy was.  I knew it was a school for people in the military, but I didn't understand that it was a true four-year college, and that it would mean challenges to any relationship, let alone a teenage one.

15 years ago, on July 1, 1998 I joined his parents in saying goodbye to him on Induction Day at the Naval Academy.  Looking back I can say that without a shadow of a doubt that I was more heartbroken and confused on that day than I have been since (even with three deployments under my belt).  I was young, I didn't know what was coming, and I think that when I walked off the Yard that day that I thought I had lost him forever.  I wrote him tirelessly every single day that summer.  I waited for the mailman with bated breath just hoping for a glimpse of him, an indication that he was okay, and some small details about his new life at USNA.

Time went forward, Plebe summer ended, and so the journey at USNA began.  My senior year of high school he accompanied me (in uniform!) to Homecoming and Prom.  I was so proud to have him with me at those events.  I would sneak to Annapolis on weekends and take him back to McLean.  We were daredevils because McLean was just outside USNA's "22 mile radius" rule for plebes.  We only had one harrowing evening where we happened to see one of John's upperclassmen at the local Blockbuster.  Watching John dive behind the shelves really illustrated the fear that the military can instill in the hearts of the lowest ranking mids.

I graduated from high school in June of 1999 and headed to Emory University in Atlanta.  Who knows what it was, be it Atlanta humidity (no) or being heartsick for Johnny (yep) I ended up transferring to Villanova University in 2000.  While in college we tried to see each other as much as we could.  I prayed that Navy would win football games so that John would be given weekend passes.  We saved our meager incomes to try and get train tickets and gas money.  He didn't have a phone in his room and that was back in the day where 500 minutes per month on a cell phone was expensive.  Oh how I wish I still had some record of our AOL IM conversations because I think we pretty much coordinated our life that way between 1999 and 2002.

In the fall of 2001 Johnny ran his second marathon.  Being that he was 21 and "indestructible", he ran the race despite barely training at all.  I criss crossed across Washington, DC to cheer him on and met him at the finish line where he was so completely exhausted and beat up that I had to take his shoes off and practically carry him to the Metro.  A month later, he asked my father's permission to propose to me.  And shortly thereafter, on November 30, 2001 he asked me to marry him.  To this day he will tell people that he proposed because I was willing to untie his shoes and care for his feet.

Johnny graduated from USNA in 2002 and I placed one of his ensign shoulder boards and his new cover upon his head.  He was off to Pensacola for flight training and I was back up in Philadelphia for my senior year.  My friends thought I was crazy to be engaged my senior year in college.  While my sorority sisters partied and met boys I was picking flowers, bridesmaids dresses, and planning my transition to being a military spouse.  I got a few snide comments about how I had no idea who I was or who he was and how we were doomed for a quick divorce.  But I knew then (just as I know now) that I was marrying my best friend.  And somehow I knew at 21 just like I know at 32 that while romance and passion is important, it is the friendship and laughter that keeps it going forever. 

I graduated from Villanova University in May of 2003.  On June 28, 2003 I took the walk down the long aisle at the USNA chapel and married my high school sweetheart.  We were absolutely crazy young (I realize that now, but still think we made the right choice) and completely naïve as to the way our Navy lifestyle would be.  10 years later we are both proud of our history.  Proud to be high school sweethearts, proud to be 2% club members, and proud to be celebrating 10 years of marriage at the 32.

Johnny, I have vowed to love and honor you for the last 10 years, 120 months, 522 weeks, 3652 days, 87,658 hours, 5,259,488 minutes, and 315,569,260 seconds.  We have had ups and downs, we have had great times and sad times, we have watched our babies get older and said farewell to souls too soon.  You have held my hand and comforted me for every single difficult point in my life and tirelessly and selflessly supported me through the happiest times.  I am so incredibly lucky to have you and I cannot wait to walk through this life together. 

Here's to many more decades together!

A Short Journey in Photos:
2013 photo TBD...


Jen said...

you guys are so cute! Congratulations

Karen said...

I LOVE this post! Congratulations on 10 years of marriage...the pictures are priceless. :) One question - what is the 2% club?

Jill said...

The official Naval Academy definition of 2% club is: "The percentage of Mids who will graduate still being involved with the same girlfriend they had on I-Day".

Angie said...

Happy Anniversary! You too are so cute together!

Holly said...

Happy Anniversary Jill!

Courtney said...

Happy anniversary, Jill!

Your story sounds so similar to Jim and mine. Ridiculously young, but the best of friends. And those mile long AIM conversations, oh boy. Long distance was hard, but I think it ultimately made us better and stronger- even to this day.

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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