Hey guys, here is part 3. Please stayed tuned for the final section (part 4). Comment below and let me know what you think. I may try to get this published.
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“Welcome to Hell! Enjoy your stay.”
I was wearing a yellow sun dress because it was cute, and I needed something that wouldn’t wrinkle very much after 24 hours of traveling. My anxiety soared along with the plane on our way to Seattle. I had finally stopped crying once we got through security and my mom was out of sight. After months of organizing, packing and crying we were finally on our way.
“I’m really tired,” I complained as we hauled our luggage through the Sea-Tac airport. It was after 2 a.m. on the East Coast.
“I know baby, I am too,” my husband replied. “It’ll be ok. As soon as we get to the USO we can lie down for a little while.”
We found the USO and checked in, but had to trudge back downstairs to store our luggage. By the time we reached the USO again, every couch, chair and bed had been taken. The sweet young lady behind the counter gave us a blanket and two pillows. We sank to the floor and held each other tightly in a fitful sleep. A few hours later, we achingly got in line for the Patriot Express. It was almost 3 a.m. on the West Coast and I felt nauseated. It was freezing in the airport; I didn’t know that Seattle would be cold in June.
When we arrived at the gate, there were people all around us sleeping on the floor. I bought a blue fleece travel blanket and wrapped us up in it. Richie’s feet stuck out the bottom. I didn’t sleep much. I was too concerned about getting on the plane, which I knew I didn’t want to do. Not only do I hate flying, but I knew that this plane was the last thing that stood between me and Japan. It was too late to turn back and I sent up a “Hail Mary” when the plane finally took off.
“Baby, wake up! Wake up! We are finally here,” I shoved Richie hard and he sat up, looking wildly around until he realized where we were.
“Yes! I am so ready to get off this plane. We are in Japan! We are in Okinawa,” Richie seemed sad and relieved at the same time. I just wanted to cry again.
My favorite flip-flop broke as we walked out of the airport and into the sweltering night air. It felt like we were stepping into a sauna. Our sponsor, a sergeant from Richie’s new unit, picked us up from the airport and drove us to his home because there were no hotel rooms available.
“I hate Okinawa,” he told us. “It really sucks here. I can’t wait to leave.”
It was almost as if a neon sign was flashing in front of my face saying, “Welcome to Hell! Enjoy your stay.”
Richie and I passed out on our sponsor’s living room floor. The next morning, I woke up before 5 a.m. and felt like I was drowning. I downed a Mountain Dew to keep from vomiting while I tried to force myself to stay awake. The jet lag lasted for days, and I felt like I would never recover. For two horrific weeks we slept in a rundown “lodge” on a base that usually catered to single Marines. I only left our room when my husband was around. It was so hot I thought for sure that I would die of heat stroke before I ever left the base. When we moved into our home on the first of July, I had never been happier to see four individual air conditioning units, one in each room.