One night in December we were talking online and he told me that though he could tell me everything, he had one secret he could not share. I kept asking what it was, and told him that I had a “secret” too. Eventually we played rock-paper-scissors over instant message (yes, this was as goofy as it sounds). I lost and confessed my feelings, which he clearly reciprocated. I broke up with my boyfriend the next day, talked to Rob for literally hours, and he told me that he loved me. The first time we ever held hands we cried together and I could literally see his heart beating through his shirt (whoaa teenagers).
A few weeks later was our first Valentine's Day. As a surprise Rob sang me a song he had written for me in front of our entire high school cafeteria. If you know Rob you know that he is extremely shy, and this was huge for him. Of course I collapsed into dramatic tears amongst the jealous sighs of my classmates, and all I could see or hear was him. It was lovely.
We spent the next year and a half in young-love-bliss until he left for the Army, which I had known was his dream since childhood. I skipped school on April 13, 2004 and we had our last full, non-Army day together. On April 14, he went to Basic Training, and from then until July we only communicated through letters and two 3-minute phone calls. On the weekend of July 4, I traveled to Georgia to visit him for a 30 hour pass. 30 hours seemed like forever after being apart so long, but was gone in an instant. After Basic and Airborne School, he was then stationed in Anchorage, AK while I went to college in Wisconsin.
As we were too young to get married, we stayed together without tying the knot for the next four years. I was in college so we only saw each other every 2-3 months or so. I think the longest amount of consecutive time we spent together at a time was 2 weeks. This went on until 2006, when he left for Iraq. He was there during one of the bloodiest times in the war, and he was on the front lines (MOS 11B - Infantry for you military folk). He was shot and was involved in several IED explosions, but miraculously survived. Rob was in quite a few dangerous situations but always made it out relatively unscathed, a fact that he owes to the existence of a tiny stuffed raccoon that I had given him early in the relationship. I had been given the raccoon when I was 4 and in the hospital with a tumor in my kidney. He carried her with him always and to this day swears that he'd be dead if he didn't have her (and, by proxy, me) with him always. He even got a tattoo of the raccoon, named Elizabeth.
I didn't see him for 8 months and we communicated infrequently by phone, at one point going 3 weeks without any communication whatsoever. His unit experienced numerous casualties, one of the occupational hazards of being an infantry unit, so he was not allowed a cell phone or personal internet use. In January of 2007 I flew to Russia for a 4-month study abroad experience (read my Moscow blog here). Thankfully, Rob and I were able to talk about as much as we did previously and we were finally in the same time zone. I left Russia in May and he returned to Maine for two weeks in June. After that two weeks ended, we said the most horrific goodbye in our short history, and I didn't see him for another six months. I entered my senior year of college, trying to hold it together and get my degree. Though we often went weeks without talking, our love/communication/trust never wavered, and never did we even consider that we should not be together.
In February of 2012 Rob and I packed up and moved to New Mexico so he could pursue a childhood dream of being a wildland firefighter. We can't wait to embark on this new chapter, finally together after all that we've been through.
I hope you have enjoyed reading our story as much as I enjoyed writing it!