Saturday in Chicago
What an emotionally and physically draining day. When I woke up this morning, I imagined today going quite differently.
After getting dressed in one of my new outfits, Kyle’s parents and I went over to the base to pick him up at 6:30. We brought him some coffee and snacks to eat for breakfast since we all wanted to hop on the train into Chicago right away. We bought our tickets and chatted with some of the other sailors who had the same touristy ideas as we did, and loaded onto the metro. We had plans to go to the NAVY pier and after that we didn’t really know what we were going to do. Everything else cost quite a bit of money and honestly, all Kyle and I really wanted was to be together. We didn’t need to spend money, we would have been perfectly content in a coffee shop or sitting in a park just talking. But we decided we would figure out the plans as the day progressed. This was our first mistake.
We all explored NAVY pier and it was fun! I recommend you check it out if you get a chance. It’s like a carnival – there’s lots of games, a Ferris Wheel, food stands and shops. We explored the pier and took some pictures. A few hours later we made our way back to the main street and Kyle’s parents were trying to figure out what we should all do with the rest of the day since we only had six hours left before Kyle’s curfew. Six hours. My heart sank and I tried not to show it. Kyle’s mom left for about half an hour to find a bathroom to use and Kyle’s dad started googling places we could visit and how much it would all cost. I was disappointed, pissed and sad that we were about to go off and do something else when all I wanted was quality time with just Kyle. We didn’t need to be in the hotel room (even though we both wouldn’t have minded that), but just somewhere where we could just be a normal married couple without entertaining anyone.
I walked away from Kyle and his dad while they discussed things to do and I went and sat on a bench. I tried to lock my emotions down and not look like I was throwing a fit, but I didn’t know what else to do to try and handle these feelings. I started to think some pretty terrible things and wondered why they couldn’t go off and do whatever it is they wanted to do and leave me alone with Kyle. Couldn’t they put themselves in our shoes and realize that we need alone time?! I didn’t want to hurt their feelings but I am a terrible liar. If they asked me what was wrong and I said “nothing” they would know and I can’t keep things from them.
My personal pity party was interrupted by Forrest Gump. Apparently I had planted myself on his bench in front of his Bubba Gump restaurant.
God has a funny sense of humor. I felt like I was a pouty kid again and my dad was trying to get me to laugh to get over it. He’d tickle me or crack a joke or make a funny face at me and I’d eventually cave and smile, but then I’d get mad since I was trying to adamantly display my dissatisfaction with my life and make him feel bad for me. So, like a pouty kid, dissatisfied with my life sitting on a bench on the NAVY pier, my Heavenly Father sent Forrest Gump to make me crack a smile and piss me off.
I jumped off the bench and walked toward Kyle. He knew exactly how I was feeling. He apologized that the day wasn’t going how we wanted it to go, and he insisted that we stay with his parents since they came all the way out here to see him and we shouldn’t be rude. I was not happy about this but tried to pretend like I was fine. That was our second mistake. We decided to go to the Navy Exchange to let Kyle’s parents shop around and then we’d all head back to the hotel room…to watch a movie. NOT how I hoped the night would go. We could watch a movie anytime. Couldn’t we split up? If they wanted to watch a movie so badly then why couldn’t they go to the theater and let us be alone in the room? I was so selfish and sad.
We all got back to the hotel room and I laid down on my bed while Kyle went to the restroom. His parents sat on their bed and Dan read out loud the movie titles that were available for him to rent for us all to watch. As I laid there quietly observing every little detail of the ceiling, silent tears started falling onto the hotel pillow. Kyle walked out of the bathroom and sat down by me. I couldn’t bring myself to look at him because I would have definitely lost it. He whispered, “Babe, wanna take a walk?” I nodded, stood up, put on my shoes and walked toward the door. Kyle informed his parents that we were going to take a walk. We made it to the lobby and discovered that there was nowhere private for us to go. We walked out into the parking lot and sat down on the curb.
“This sucks,” was how he broke the silence. “I hate that this is the only place that we can talk.”
“I know, babe.” It started raining, but we didn’t budge.
I completely vented every single thought I had running through my head, mostly geared at how disappointed that this was how the day had to go. I let him know how hard it has been not living with him, falling asleep without him, cooking only for me, and how I secretly still wash some of his clean clothes with my dirty clothes so that I feel like I’m doing his laundry even though they haven’t been on him in months. I mean, how pathetic is that? I was so homesick that I washed his clean laundry so I can imagine that he recently wore those items; it made it feel like he wasn’t so far away.
He said how lame it was that he had to wait for a stupid medical waiver, and how he was seriously debating whether to re-class into a different non-spec ops job.
We discussed the pros and cons of him switching into something else, and as tempting as it was, we decided to at least wait it out till October – that’s the beginning of the new fiscal year for the military and apparently that’s the best time to get a new contract.
After we both got some tears out and hashed through all issues that we could, we eventually were too cold and wet to keep sitting out in the rain. We went inside the room with his parents and changed into dry clothes. We went to dinner and I was pretty quiet. I still couldn’t look at Kyle’s parents. They knew I was upset and I didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable with my puffy, red eyes. We took Kyle back to the barracks for his curfew, and then quietly got into our beds.
So as I sit here and reflect on my day, I have this advice to offer all the other anchorwives who are about to go to Great Lakes with other people for your sailor’s graduation:
1Get a separate room from your parents or in-laws or whoever else you are traveling with. I know it will cost more money, but it is worth it. It will give you more privacy than a lobby or parking lot will.
2Set boundaries with the people you came with. Talk about the days ahead of time. Agree on a time that y’all will hang out as a group till, and then decide when you will split up so you can have time to yourselves. Yes, they have spent money to be there with him like you have, but you’re his wife. When you see him every day, sharing him with others is easy. When you haven’t seen him in months, sharing him is hard. If they have half a heart, they’ll understand.
3And if you’re going to pout on NAVY pier, don’t sit on Bubba Gump’s bench.