Almost There

Here we are. Friday. I’m sitting at my “desk,” which is really just a table with a rolling chair nestled in the middle school’s second floor library, eating my breakfast and drinking iced coffee, counting down the hours until the freedom of the weekend.

Today is April 22nd. I’m almost there.

This year has been a whirlwind in more ways than one. Let’s begin with April of last year.

In April of last year, I was working at PJ’s Coffee part-time and performing The NOLA Project’s “Robin Hood: Thief, Brigand.” I was a 23-year-old living life, having fun, and postponing any attention to responsibility. It was nice.

In May, my world flipped upside down when my great-grandmother passed away. She was 93-years-old. It was a week after Mother’s Day. And my life hasn’t been the same since.

I don’t remember the majority of June. I’m not quite sure what I did in that month. I worked at the coffee shop, I spent time with friends, I probably went out too much and didn’t take care of myself physically, meaning more ice cream and less cardio. I dated, which was hilarious and hilariously necessary for me to experience.

Then July rolls around, and I went on a much needed beach trip with two of my best friends. They’re sassy and smart and talented and hilarious, and we drank cocktails on the beach while reading Mindy Kaling novels and wearing oversized beach hats. It was fantastic, and it’s what I needed. I could literally feel my broken soul being mended. It was as if, with each passing day, there was someone in there with a little needle and thread piecing me back together.

That same month, on July 4th no less, I met my current boyfriend for the first time hours after returning from our beach weekend. We had been talking for a few weeks prior to meeting, and I was incredibly nervous. Feeling extra spunky post-beach and extra sassy and confident, I decided the evening of Independence Day would be a great time for our first date.

And it was.

The rest of July was spent going to NOLA Running of the Bulls, meeting each other’s friends, going out to dinner, studying together (I was learning lines for “You Don’t Know the Half Of It,” and he was studying for the bar), pet sitting his dog and cat while he was out of town for the bar, while simultaneously applying for a teaching job at an elementary school uptown. Needless to say, it was a busy month, and my life hasn’t been the same since.

It’s been better.

I turned twenty-four in August, began my teaching job, welcomed a friend as a roommate into my home, got into a wreck, purchased a car, and became incredibly comfortable with FaceTime. Felix went back home to Puerto Rico for a couple of weeks, and FaceTime became my best friend. I started running again and eating better, and I found myself feeling really good about myself and my life.

In September, I began rehearsing for another play with Second Star Performance Collective in the evenings, while working during the day. Felix traveled to Tanzania and Germany as a post-bar celebration, and he was actually in Germany when he found out he passed! Communication was tough during this time because he was literally climbing a mountain, so that was a struggle. As soon as he got back, though, we were inseparable.

October rolls around, as does Halloween and my distaste for my job. Second Star’s play opens, and we run through the first week of November. We celebrate Halloween together with our friends and pull off a mighty awesome couple’s costume of Dr. Frankenstein and Igor. Felix expected to get his orders this month, but they never came. Oh yeah, I should mention that my boyfriend is in the Air Force.

November is here, and the weather is getting crisp! This means more outdoor runs, which we go on together. I ran my first 5k and came in first place in my age division, covering 3.1 miles in 25 minutes and 15 seconds. I was getting faster and stronger and healthier. Felix’s orders from the Air Force still didn’t come, so we planned to spend Thanksgiving together at my house with my family. We drank sangria all day that Felix made (I’m still wanting that secret recipe, PR), ate a delicious meal, and napped. In the evening once the day died down, a couple friends came over and we did it all over again. It was a great day.

December comes. One of my most favorite months. Christmas. I was over the moon that Felix would be in town to spend Christmas with me at my uncle’s house. I had all of these plans to take him to Celebration in the Oaks, to decorate gingerbread cookies, etc. One day, as we were driving to Tunica Falls to go hiking with the pup, Felix got a phone call.

And in that moment, hearing him say, “Good morning, sir,” I knew that he got his assignment. I knew that he was moving. I knew that it was all real. I had a ping of excitement for him, since he had been awaiting this call for months, but a tinge of sadness flowed through me, since I knew his life and my life were about to change drastically.

Felix hung up the phone, and he was beaming. He looked SO happy and excited and told me he was being sent to Washington D.C. and would be moving in two weeks, which was a week before Christmas.

After rejoicing in the fact that 1) he finally got an assignment and 2) he was stationed at his first choice, I began brainstorming ideas for the holidays. I knew that I did not want to spend Christmas without him, so after about a day of deliberating and going back and forth with myself, I decided that I would drive up to D.C. with him and would stay with him through New Years.

So that’s what I did.

A few weeks later, after the movers had packed his life away into boxes, we said goodbye to his apartment on Broadway and spent the morning with my mom at my house before hopping into the Jetta with both pets and setting off for an adventure. My first experience at what it’s like to live a life in the military. I was excited. Nervous. Anxious. But I was with Felix, and that’s all I cared about.

After stopping in Chattanooga for the night, we continued the drive to D.C. and made it late that evening. After dealing with some scheduling issues with the hotel on base, we booked a room at another hotel and settled in.

We were there. He was there. He lived there now. 

Felix went into work the next day for a few hours, and I took that time to explore his new town. After minutes of walking the main strip and going into coffee shops and stores, I fell in love. It helped put me at ease a bit about his new life. It helped me feel settled, even though my life was far from that.

Over the course of my two weeks there, we explored his new town, biked the Mount Vernon Trail, visited the monuments in D.C., went to see the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House, dined at really amazing restaurants, visited local watering holes, went to IKEA to scope out furniture for his new place, ran around his neighborhood, worked out in his new gym, etc. For two weeks, I felt like I lived there with him, and I didn’t mind it one bit.

We celebrated Christmas together with his sister, and it was perfect. New Years Eve was spent in D.C. at a German beer garden where we drank pints and pints of beer and ate deliciously salty beer cheese on pretzel buns.

And then January 2nd rolled around, and I had to leave and go back home for work.

So this is what it feels like to live a life in the military.

That goodbye was hard. It might have been the single hardest goodbye I have ever had to make in my life. I remember walking through TSA practically sobbing as I handed them my boarding pass and I.D. It was a sight.

The rest of January was slow. I was working at a job I didn’t like, trying to make it through everyday. Again, I spent time with my friends to try to keep my mind off the fact that I lived states away from my boyfriend. FaceTime became a good friend again.

At the end of January, we saw each other for a few days in NYC while I was there with my mom, and then I flew up during Mardi Gras break and spent my holiday with him, only to have to fly back home on Valentine’s Day as he made the drive down to Alabama for a nine week training for his job.

February comes and goes, March arrives, as does Felix’s birthday. It was on a Wednesday, so I couldn’t be with him on his actual birthday, so I sent a care package (my first one!) to arrive on his birthday, and drove up to Alabama the following weekend.

I was SO EXCITED to be in Alabama. I know, right? Alabama. Land of the nothing, really. But my dude was there, and it was a new place, and I got to stay on base for the first time, and all of that thrilled me to pieces.

I got to meet Felix’s new friends, see where he attends class, tour the base (SO MANY AIRPLANES!), and get a little glimpse into his life as an Air Force officer.

During Felix’s nine week training, I visited Alabama twice (one of which was for his graduation dinner + graduation, which was truly an honor to attend and made me fall in love even more with the Air Force), Felix and his friends visited New Orleans twice (once for French Quarter Fest), and we all traveled to Destin for a weekend of beach time and boat rides. So I was truly lucky to be able to see him as often as I did.

And here we are. Friday. I’m sitting at my “desk,” which is really just a table with a rolling chair nestled in the middle school’s second floor library, eating my breakfast and drinking iced coffee, counting down the hours until the freedom of the weekend.

But this weekend won’t be like other weekends. There won’t be a visit to Maxwell AFB in Alabama, there won’t be a weekend getaway to Destin, there won’t be a gaggle of Airmen coming to visit in New Orleans.

It’s just another weekend. It will be a wonderful weekend filled with theatre events + friends’ birthday celebrations, but it won’t be the same.

This year has been a whirlwind in more ways than one. It’s been a life changing year, and despite how hard some of these days have been, I have grown and learned from them. Most importantly, I’ve learned to love them. Every experience, good or bad, I’ve grown to love.

I anxiously await the next chapter in my life, because I can feel it beginning. As a matter of fact, this new phase is a year in the making, and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.

Whether it be hopping a plane to visit my boyfriend or touring his current base to see where he works. Whether it be attending graduations, promotion ceremonies, dinners. Whether it be going back to school and creating a new career path for myself. Maybe living somewhere new. Maybe not.

Whatever it is, I anxiously await it. I’m ready for it.

Today is April 22nd. I’m almost there.

I’m almost there.

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