My goodness. I have just slowed down enough to have the time to write about my (fantastic) whirlwind weekend. It started in Oklahoma on Thursday night with a Hail and Farewell. For those of you not familiar with Hail and Farewells, they’re a tradition in the Army where incoming members of a unit are ‘hailed’ and the departing members are ‘farewelled’. We attended plenty during Clay’s active duty days and they’re often a good time, especially since alcohol and food are almost always involved. We were surprised that we would be hailed due to Clay’s status being Federal and not Active military but because he works with both military and Federal civilians on his new team, both Federal and Active military are hailed. Learn something new each day. Anyways – the event was held at a wine bar and children were encouraged to attend. So that is how we ended up at Rinie’s Kitchen and Wine Bar in Lawton, OK with our son on Thursday night.
I think the mood lighting, my wine glass, and his sippy cup just scream class, don’t you? And I still can’t believe that we were THAT couple. You know, the one that brought their toddler to a wine bar. However, it was nice to meet the people Clay works with and their spouses and I loved hearing their stories of how they ended up in Oklahoma. Around 8:30pm, we said our goodbyes, put a very tired toddler into his car seat, and began the three hour drive to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
But first, we stopped at Starbucks for Venti drinks. We needed our caffeine fix. Bad. Because we were driving to DFW. On the drive down, we were commenting on how crazy of an idea this was and how perhaps we didn’t think it through 100%.
We finally arrived in the vicinity of the DFW airport around 11:30pm and checked into a hotel by midnight. After about 3 hours of sleep, we woke up at 3:30am so we could be out of the hotel by 4:30am. Yes, 4:30am.
By 6:00am, we were on the plane (in the same row!) and gulping more Starbucks. Having Weston secured in a car seat for the straight through flight was well worth the extra ticket. He slept almost the entire way and didn’t even make a peep when awake, as I was prepared with stickers, milk, and a new Mr. Potato Head toy. The flight attendants and surrounding passengers loved him for it. As did we.
We arrived in Raleigh just before 10:00am, where we were greeted by Clay’s parents. They drove both my Volvo and their car to the airport after dropping Lucy off at our house. I may or may not have hugged my car when I saw it. After some breakfast (more coffee!), we then made our way toward Greensboro, NC. Why you ask? Well, Clay’s unit was finally having the formal homecoming ceremony. I know, I know, they’ve been home for two months now. But with everyone coming home individually and at different times, there wasn’t the opportunity for the official welcome home until this weekend. It was held at the Koury Convention Center and Hotel in Greensboro as part of the Yellow Ribbon Weekend. All of the soldiers were given a free room so they and their significant others could stay the night and attend the presentations together on Saturday.
Even though I have had the opportunity to hug him and kiss him daily, I still got a lump in my throat when I saw him in full uniform, marching into the room. Clay gave a great speech, complete with an inside joke directed at me. After the ceremony, Clay’s parents took Weston back to our house and we checked into our room and got ready for a night out with other members of the unit.
Don’t ask – I don’t know why Clay is making that face. A big group of us went out to dinner, where we were easily the loudest in the restaurant. We all then went back to the hotel and proceeded to bar hop within the hotel. Yes, there were thatmany bars in the hotel. It was huge! The other patrons had no idea what hit them – a bunch of rowdy soldiers back from war, celebrating their return. Some even partook in cougar hunting.
We. had. so. much. fun.
Sorry, there are no pictures from that night that I am comfortable putting on the Internet. 🙂 Possibly because I had my first taste of French Martini’s. Ever! I can’t believe what I have been missing all of these years. We woke up Saturday morning, operating on just under 8 hours of sleep over a 72 hour period, and attended meetings and presentations all morning and afternoon. Needless to say, massive amounts of coffee was consumed. Afterwards, we said goodbye to friends and drove back to our house where we were welcomed home by hugs from Weston and kisses from Lucy. It had been almost a month since we had last seen her, so we were super excited to see our little girl.
When Clay’s parents left to go back to Wilmington, we played with Weston until it was his bedtime and then ordered a pizza, which we ate while watching DVR’ed shows from Thursday night, such as Parks and Rec (fabulous, as always). I then preceded to fall asleep at 9pm. On a Saturday night. I couldn’t physically stay awake any longer. I wasn’t talking in coherent sentences and waves of nausea overcame me. I was that tired. Sleep was wonderful.
Yesterday morning, I woke up sad because I knew I was going to have to say goodbye to Clay. Ugh. Weston and I dropped him off at the airport and he flew back to Oklahoma. Weston and I are staying here in NC tying up all the loose ends and we hope to be back in Oklahoma by the end of March. When I was driving home from the airport I realized something. The past two months were the longest uninterrupted time Clay and I have spent together since getting married. We woke up together every single day for a little over two months. There were no TDYs, no deployments, and no field exercises. It was amazing.
And that was my whirlwind weekend. I am still tired.