Here’s the long-awaited summary of my royal weekend with R.
Once again I was sitting in the airport, very familiar with the retro carpet and the smell of Auntie Anne’s pretzels drifting through the terminal. For the second time I was flying up to see R for the annual Coast Guard formal ball. The first time I went, I thought I might get sick from excitement and nervousness, but this time was different. In contrast to my experience last year, I knew what to do and where to be and the etiquette expected of me at such an event. Don’t get me wrong, I was still nervous as heck, but it was the calmest version of nervous you’ll ever see in me.
On the final leg of my trip, the train pulled into the New London station and I could see a very familiar figure searching the windows, trying to catch a glimpse and I laughed because he saw me and I think his smile actually touched both of his ears.
I jumped off that train and off we went, excited to be in the same space again.
For those of you reading this, the following details may seem completely insignificant, but for future me, reading this just for kicks and giggles sometime much later, this is important.
When Reid and I found my crash pad for the night, he’d gotten us a box of juice pouches, a whole bucket of clementines, and a few boxes of granola bars, all the snacks he knew I loved. We spent our time watching movies and laughing at jokes and sharing funny videos we’d found online, just enjoying a spoonful of normalcy during such a rare occasion.
Suddenly the time came for me to slip on that long dress I’d tucked into my bag and for us to head back to the Academy for dinner. I was a little high on hairspray and felt a cramp creeping up my leg from the heels I’d forced onto my feet. This was possibly a recipe for disaster, but what else is new.
The entire night felt like I was stuck in a time vortex, repeating the exact same night one year ago with the same introductions, handshakes, table setting, and atmosphere. Although everything felt familiar, it was completely different because I wasn’t so lost and disoriented. I knew when to stand and when to wait for the official party to leave the event and how to mask the discomfort of my dress and shoe combo.
This night felt like I was among friends, laughing at jokes from my last visit to Connecticut and seeing familiar faces that were once completely new to me. R guided me around the room, making sure I was introduced to each of his new friends who were eager to meet the infamous girl they’d heard about. Basically I felt like a movie star among other movie stars (because I’d heard everything about them too.)
We danced and made jokes and shook hands with those of higher rank, like the entire evening was a waltz and I was grateful for a partner who knew where to pull me and not to step on my toes (he only stepped on them sometimes, but that’s alright with me.)
Once we left, our time together seemed to creep away when we weren’t looking, like sand falling between the cracks. Before I knew it, I was back on that train, sitting next to a woman who allowed me to have a minute of allergies when I felt the train zipping me back to my world. (Thank you, kind stranger, for completely ignoring me and not looking at me sideways when I pulled a few clementines and the last juice pouch from my backpack.)
This weekend was everything because it was time spent with him, but also because it held a beautiful realization that his friends had become OUR friends, and that’s a big deal for long-distance relationships. I was very much a guest, but to be considered a friend among members of his company and to fill a role that was my own within his world was something really special. Gosh I’m getting so cheesy around here.
Our weekend in Connecticut was crazy and fast-paced and pinched my feet a little, but it was C and R back together again, for which I am always grateful.