This post is sponsored by Homes.com
There are so many reasons February is my favorite month. O February how I love thee. Let me count the ways.
1. It’s not January.
2. A lot of amazing people were born in February. Like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and William Henry Harrison and me.
3. Every now and then an extra day shows up.
4. February is in love with love.
Just like me.
Today to celebrate love and extra days and February, one of my favorite brands on the planet, Homes.com asked me to share a story. They recently conducted a survey of 5000 people to find out if they moved for love and if they did? How did it end? Did it end well with a happily-ever-after and walking off into the sunset? Or did it all far apart in the end? I was a little surprised at the results. You can see them here.
I moved for love.
I moved across states and rivers and valleys and mountains and deserts for love. I moved away from family and friends and all I knew. I moved to a land far away that I only read about in books.
They call it California.
This is my story.
We left the day after we got married. It was a cold December day and we drove across a country with our clothes and our wedding china and a tub of Christmas decorations.
The two of us.
Against the world.
I still remember the day my husband told me he was going to be stationed in California. CALIFORNIA? The land of movie stars and palm trees and oceans and a lack of sweet tea. It was so far away from my mother. There was a mountain range between myself and my family and long distance was .57 a minute. I squared my shoulders and braced my heart and put a smile on my face and awkwardly and with tears in my eyes told my husband I was excited.
This was a new adventure.
This was the start of our new life.
We’d go to events and make new friends and learn new things and I’d plan out military outfits with giant shoulder pads and brass buttons and door knocker earrings to wear to parties on base. Everything was going to be amazing. Everything was going to be incredible. Everything was going to work out great.
Except I forgot one thing.
Being in the military isn’t about parties and making friends and learning new things and wearing an outfit that would have made General Patton proud.
Being in the military is about serving your country.
And leaving your family.
And traveling across an ocean to fight the fight to keep us safe here at home.
And so it was that nine months after we moved to California, I stood in my military outfit with brass buttons and shoulder pads wearing bright red lipstick as my Lee Press-On Nails desperately clutched a chain link fence with tears streaming down my face…..
….and watching with fearful eyes as my new husband sailed away over the horizon.
Silently, I sobbed and cried as the ship got smaller and smaller, frantically running down the fence with eyes blinded by tears to try to catch one more glimpse before the ship turned the corner and headed out of the harbor. Hundreds and hundreds of sailors lined the decks of the ship that day,standing at attention with their crisp white uniforms gleaming in the sun and their heads held high as they left to fight the unknown.
Not one of those sailors knew what the future held with the Persian Gulf War.
Not one of those sailors knew what the fighting would bring.
Not one of those sailors knew if they would even return home.
And still? They sailed on.
Days and weeks went by. Silently the country watched as the conflict escalated.
One day I arrived at work at a local newspaper to see terrifying night-time pictures flashing across the national news with bomb after bomb and explosion after explosion a half a world away. I walked into the office and saw the grainy footage on television of nighttime over in the Persian Gulf. When I saw those explosions, I didn’t move. I didn’t think. I didn’t say a word. I stood silently as my world crumbled around me.
I was here and he was there and the sheer helplessness of the situation overwhelmed me.
I wanted to talk to him. I wanted him to reassure me that he was alright and that he was coming home and that he was going to sail back into the harbor on a sunny day wearing his dress whites on the deck of that ship….
….and that all was right with the world.
But it wasn’t.
And I felt my heart crack in two.
Suddenly, I heard my name over the loud-speaker. They said they needed me in the office. And to hurry. And that I needed to go at once. And that I had a call from an officer.
From an officer?
I didn’t want a call.
Not even a little.
All the calls I had ever seen in the movies from officers during a war never ended well.
I entered the office and took the phone and I think I said hello—the smallest, tiniest hello I have ever said in my life in a voice that sounded like a cross between a squeak and a whisper.
“Mrs. Wood….this is a ship to shore call. We have your husband on the line. Please be aware that all conversations on this call will be repeated several times to transfer information to the ship. Please begin when you are ready,” boomed back at me over the line.
I didn’t understand.
A ship to shore call?
What? I didn’t know what to say. So I simply said, “Hello again.”
And then I heard it from across the miles of land and ocean. It was the hello repeated from military personnel to military personnel over and over and over again.
“Hello again.” “Hello again.” “Hello again.” “Hello again.”
Until it reached my husband half a world away.
And then the message came back from that sailor on a distant shore.”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.”
He was fine?
He was okay?
He was safe?
I screamed and giggled and spun around and the heavens parted and I heard the hallelujah chorus. And then? I shouted into the phone with all of the joy and exuberance and adoration I could muster ”I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.”
Except I forgot.
The “I love you” didn’t end there.
It wasn’t just between us.
There were five people listening on the call.
And so it ended up sounding a little like this. ”I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.””I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.” ”I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.””I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.”
Those veteran military personnel smiled as they said it. And truth? Each of them passed the message along with all the joy that my “I love you” was intended to convey.
And in the end…..
…..I didn’t care if the world was listening.
Because that sailor with the twinkling eyes didn’t miss a word.
And he knew that I adored him.
And would be waiting for the day he returned.
And winging its way from across the miles of oceans, from that ship through that phone line with the static and the beeps and the blips via half a dozen scratchy voices….
.….he sent me the sweetest “I love you” I ever heard.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
PS Have you ever moved for love? I’d love to hear your story, too.
disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Homes.com.
All opinions are my own.
Please see my disclosure page here.