Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 19th

Hi, it’s Christina –

Good morning! Just writing to say, I didn’t die. I have had no internet service since I left on Wednesday at 5:00 until I plugged my computer in at home just now. Who in this day and age does not provide internet at a rental home? Anyway, I survived without it with only minimal twitching.

Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of our trip. Wednesday morning, the fog is so thick I couldn’t see my car in the driveway. I get to the car, arms loaded with the remaining items I needed to bring, and I can’t open the doors because they are frozen shut. Finally get a door opened and get the car heated up enough to drive it. I’m just getting started and I’m already twenty minutes behind schedule. My car fishtails while attempting to make a left turn from a dead stop. Wonderful, not only am I dealing with fog, I’m dealing with black ice. Oops, I said Reader’s Digest version - sorry.

I pick up Sharon, we CRAWL to 95 (it took as twice as long as it should have). The fog doesn’t let up until we hit Virginia and that was the first time I was actually able to go the speed limit. From there we had a smooth trip down until the last quarter mile when we couldn’t figure out where the turn off was to get to the condo. We finally find it and our fifteen hour trek has come to an end. We unpack, blew up our beds, and crashed and burned for the night.

Thursday was supposed to start with the inspirational run, but Sharon and I opted out of leaving for the base at 06:00, standing outside in the cold, for the chance to see Kyle run by with his platoon. We headed over for 08:30 and a ceremony they held in the All Weather facility. Each of the six platoons from Mike Company marched in, ten of the recruits were sworn in as US citizens, and then all the recruits were released to their families for liberty until 15:00. Kyle showed us around the base, his barracks, and explained what life as a Marine recruit was like, and then we all had lunch on base. (The chicken was delicious, but the sweet tea was undrinkable because it was made with the tap water. I swear the water down there comes straight from the swamp! It is so vile. I can’t even put it near my nose. I have no idea how they drink it.)

Anyway, at lunch, we found out that even though Kyle was graduating with honors – scored top five in the battalion, number three in his platoon, and missed top marksman by one point – he wouldn’t be wearing his dress blues for graduation. Only the top person from each platoon gets to attend graduation in their blues, so even though Kyle scored higher than three hundred and fifty of the three hundred and fifty-five members of his battalion, he was not one of the six in blues at the graduation. Fine, I understand the way it works, but not for nothing, at graduation, they should have said something about how 3001 was the stand out platoon, earning a majority of the top slots.

Friday, graduation day, started with a colors ceremony at 07:45, led by the Marine Corp Band. They were amazing, and seeing the massive flag unfurl while our national anthem was being played was very moving. Graduation began precisely at 09:00 on the parade deck and commenced at exactly 10:00. It was an impressive ceremony, one I will never forget. By the time pictures were all taken, final good-byes were said, remaining gear was gathered, and last purchases from the MCX were made, it was 12:00 before we left the base.

That was when I noticed the biggest change in Kyle. The poor kid was like a lost puppy for a little while. For the first time in thirteen weeks, he was not being told exactly what to do every second. It was kinda funny. But then, we happened to have an interaction with one of the residents of the condo community, and all I could do was smile. While he spoke with this woman, he stood tall, was articulate and oh so respectful; I was so proud of the man he has become.

We didn’t do much on Friday afternoon, but then we went out to dinner at Joe’s BBQ – a hole in the wall behind a gas station. To say I approached the place with a little trepidation would be an understatement, but that’s where Kyle wanted to go, so that’s where we went. I was pleasantly surprised; the food was quite tasty and very reasonably priced. After dinner, the gang headed to a drive-in double feature – yes, apparently there still are drive-ins left in the world – and I headed back to the condo. I knew there was no way I could stay up until midnight and be able to drive home the next day; plus my back was really hurting, so I knew I should turn in early.

We left South Carolina at 7:30 yesterday morning and I walked in my door at 10:00 last night, gave my hubby a kiss, popped two Aleve, and went to bed. My back is still really sore and I’m still pretty wiped out, so I’m going back to bed for, oh I don’t know, another ten hours or so. I just wanted to let you know I’m still alive. We’ll worry about the writing challenge tomorrow. I wish you all a great day & happy writing!