Today, I am going to look back over what could be considered the most important decision of my life...
Homecoming Weekend 1995 -- Furman University
The floats were decorated on the mall...
There were parties everywhere...
The football game was fun for all who attended...
I mean, that's what I heard. I wasn't actually there.
I was in Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia.
That's where my life changed forever.
A little background information... the dating world at Furman is not all that great.
Actually, it is non-existent. And that's being kind.
For some unknown reason, Furman boys don't date Furman girls. For the most part, we are their friends, drinking buddies, study partners, whatever... but NOT their dates or girlfriends... not no way... not no how.
So, I decided Homecoming Weekend would be the perfect opportunity to skip town and go to visit one of my BFFs from high school, Tizzy. She was a junior and was dating a guy named Mike. I told her that I wanted to have a good time for the weekend and take my mind off of school and all of the (what seemed like) stress that I had going on from it...
She told me she had the perfect guy for me. One of her boyfriend's friends... a United States Marine. I was excited. Completely and totally excited.
I had seen the ads on television. I knew the uniform well. I knew the confidence, the "look", the overall appeal of a man in uniform. And here I was, going on a blind date with a Marine. WOW! I could hardly contain myself...
Until he walked in her dorm room for the first time.
First of all, his name was Bubba. Seriously. That's what everyone called him. Including me. He was wearing blue jean shorts, a t-shirt, and hiking boots. YEAH. I know. Not exactly the Marine I had seen on television or in billboard advertisements.
Since I had yet to have my first drink, I didn't know what to do but sit there and be polite. Who was I to judge someone by their outward appearance or the fact that they didn't seem to measure up to my idea of what they should or should not look like?
We loaded up in Tizzy's car and drove to the nearest grocery store for beer and such. Before I knew it, Bubba and I were chasing each other around the store... he was meowing like a cat and I was barking like a dog. I was completely sober at this point, remember. Completely.sober. And having the most fun I had had in a long, long time. With a guy named Bubba.
Well, needless to say, we went back to Tizzy's dorm room and started drinking. After a few bottles of Boone's (I was a poor college kid, remember) we decided it was time to hit some of the parties/bars on and nearby campus. We had the best time I can remember. It was fun from start to finish, and I didn't want the night to end. Afterwards, we took Tizzy and Mike back to Tizzy's dorm room and Bubba and I decided to do through the Hardee's drive thru... we were starving.
He had a tiny little teal green Ford Ranger back in those days, with a little green and black stuffed puppy in the front windshield. I'll never forget how excited I was when he said I could have it. I had never in my whole life "clicked" with someone so instantly. Never had I been so happy with someone who was a complete and total stranger to me. We talked and talked and talked that night until it was time for he and Mike to return to Fort Pickett. I counted the hours until he and Mike would come back the next night. And we had an even better time the next night. Then it was time for me to come back to Greenville and go back to the life I knew here at Furman.
That was November. I knew I'd probably never see or hear from Bubba again, but I didn't care. I had no regrets whatsoever. I was living in the moment, and for the first time in my life I wasn't analyzing who, what, when, where, why, or how about the situation. It.just.felt.right.
I came back from that trip and my roommate MB told me, after hearing about how wonderful and fun and awesome and great my weekend was that I was going to marry Bubba. I told her she was crazy and that I was never going to see much less hear from her again.
So, when I got a random phone call in March of 1996, I was surprised to say the least. The message was from "J in North Carolina". Um... WHO? I had no idea. It took me three.whole.days. to figure out who it was. It was Bubba! To say I was thrilled would be the understatement of the century.
He wanted to know if I would go to Myrtle Beach with him for the weekend. Um. YEAH! I had enough of a moment of sanity to think that maybe I shouldn't... here I was, a 19 year old college girl, going to meet a 25 year old Marine that I had only met once before. Not exactly what I'd want Myddle or Babee H doing, right? But, again, it just felt right. So I did it. Of course, I told MB where I was going (this was before everyone and their mama had a cell phone, remember?) and that if I wasn't back on Sunday, then she should probably worry. (NICE, huh?)
Driving there, I was nervous. More nervous than I expected to be. Was he the same fun-loving guy that I remembered? (Hope so!) Would he be wearing those same shorts and boots? (Hope not!) Would we "click" like we did in November? (Hope so!) What would happen if we didn't "click" this time? (Didn't even want to consider it.)
Well, to make a long story short, it was the most amazing and wonderful weekend of my life. From start to finish we had fun talking, walking up and down Ocean Blvd, hanging out with all of his Marine buddies.
We've been together ever since. Through highs and lows. Through fun times and sad times. Through it all. He's been there for me.
So, thanks Daddy H.
Thanks for loving me for who I am, even when I don't love myself.
Thanks for giving me three children who I can't imagine living one day without.
Thanks for listening to me when I have a bad day and work.
Thanks for always wanting to fix whatever is wrong, even when you know you can't do a damn thing about it.
Thanks for making me feel safe.
Thanks for making me laugh, even when I feel like crying.
Thanks for allowing me to be myself, completely and totally, when we are together.
I know I don't say it nearly enough.
I love you more than you know.