My parents stood in the kitchen, up to wave me off. Mom crying like I died. Dad wrapping his arms around mom, trying to stop her bawling. It looked like a scene from the most recent family funeral.
I wiggled around, excited, ignoring the drama my parents were starting the day with. All I ever wanted to do was see the world and with one signature I was on my way. Up early to head out for the rest of my life. It took a while to go to sleep, my stomach churning and mind already seeking tomorrow. My first stop would be MEPS. I didn’t remember what it stood for, just that was where my life would begin. I was so ready.
My recruiter arrived at four thirty in the morning on the dot. I could hear his car pulling up the driveway. I peeked out the door to make sure. Not that I had a doubt. Who else would be coming up our drive at that hour?
Once I’d finally slept, I was out like a baby, firm and confident in my decision. I packed what I was told, a change of clothes, underwear, and my toiletries. I didn’t stray from the list even a tiny bit. A small duffle bag held all I would need going forward. A small bag to carry my past into my future. I grabbed the strap, ready to open the door.
A knock on the door and there he stood, waiting to take me away.
“Jackie, are you ready?”
I nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Petty Officer will do. Time to say goodbye. We have a bit of a drive to get you to Chicago and I have another stop along the way.”
Mom grabbed me, squeezing me so tight I can’t breathe. I felt her reluctance to let me go. “You can change your mind.” she whispered. “You can stay home, go to college like you’ve always dreamed of.” Tears rolling wetly down her cheeks.
I pulled back. “Mom, I can’t change my mind. I don’t want to. It was your dream for me to go to college, not mine. I’m doing what I always dreamed of doing.”
“But you were signed up. You wanted to go.” She wiped her eyes. Grabbing a napkin from the counter to blow her nose.
“I only did it because you wanted me to go.” How many times did we need to repeat this conversation? Evidently every day since I signed up.
“You’re too smart to waste your life this way.” The frustration in her voice was aggravating.
I took a deep breath and knew that no matter what my mom said, I was reaching for my dream with open arms and heart. I knew this was for me. Once I sat and thought about what I wanted, it became obvious.
“Mom, Dad, I have to go.” I pulled away, reaching down and slipping my bag over my shoulder. “I’ll write. I promise.”
My recruiter held open the door, waiting for me to exit.
I turned and looked at my parents. “Goodbye.”
“Stay safe.” My dad grabbed me, giving me one last hug and a kiss to the top of my head. “No matter what, you’re still our baby girl.” I gave him a smile, hugging him tight. Happy at least he was letting me go. Maybe he understood.
“Bye, mom. Bye dad.” I headed out the door trepidation and excitement bubbling through me. The sound of my mom’s crying following me out the door. I settled in the car, ready for adventure.
Unedited and needing work, lol. This past year has been worse than the year before! But I’m working on it. Thought maybe you needed a little taste while I work on finishing this one!