I got the last text before Andrew's phone died. He wrote, "We're leaving now and will be at the company in an hour and a half." Along with some xoxoxo's. Determined to see him as soon as possible, I decided to get to the company in about an hour, just in case. Plus I'd been ready to hear from him for hours and was out of things to do, clean, cook, and had no patience to read or watch anything any longer.
I parked at the company and waited, not quite sure from which direction he would be coming, nor if he'd be able to contact me.
Facing a couple of the motorpools, where the troop carriers were returning, I was witness to several home-comings, and scores of Soldiers chucking their gear in the backs of cars and trucks and driving off. I was getting so hopeful! Andrew had mentioned the possibility of their company staying late to finish up some things. But these guys were all jumping right in their own cars and driving off. Whew.
I had been sitting in the van for nearly 2 hours when, suddenly, my phone rings from Sergeant Gragg's number. It was Andrew saying that they had just pulled into their motorpool (down the road, not one I could see) and then that they were driving to the company. So I sat there in the company parking lot under a streetlight with a good view of the entrance, practically holding my breath with every headlight I saw. (Now, lest you are led to believe that Andrew had previously lied about their arrival time, let me just say that in the end, his convoy had to wait for the last people from the battalion, and then proceeded to take the longest way home, ever. This must have been by way of Florida and back. Or something just as far.)
Finally, two humvees turned in. I wasn't sure if they were Andrew's, I couldn't see him in the windows. So I just sat there and waited some more. He knew where I was, so he would come and find me.
It was so dark, I didn't see him until he was in the light from the streetlamp. Even then, I didn't know it was him at first, he was so laden with gear and duffels and ruck sacks. I quick unlocked the back and he dropped everything in. Then we just stood there in a long embrace under the canopy of the back hatch door. I was not in a parking lot. I heard no cars drive by and saw no headlights. I was with Andrew. And that's when I began to breathe again, for the first time in weeks.
Though I would love to say that he drove me home then and there...the night's adventure was far from over. He had more gear to bring out. And then had to do weapons and gear accountability. Turn them in and sign off and all. We drove back and forth to the motorpool several times. Usually with "hitchhikers." If you hadn't noticed, I wasn't about to leave him. So I just tagged along, content to finally be wherever he was.
All the Soldiers were finished and gathered in the company...and suddenly everything was on lock-down. Another company seemed to have misplaced a piece of sensitive equipment, and so no one was allowed to leave until further notice.
One of the frustrations of the Army. All get punished for the shortcomings of a few. Or one.
By now, it's around 10:30. We're all sitting in the company and no one seems to know what's going on. Some Soldiers are sleeping with their heads down on the table, some are sitting on the cold concrete against the wall, still others are storming around acting like they would do something if they could. All are trying to deal with the fact that they can't go home yet, for some reason. So close...
Once we heard it was on lock-down because of lost equipment, which would need to be found before anyone could go home...and which could be anywhere between the garrison and the field... We took orders and I did a Sonic run. Yep. The company's hero for the night.
Andrew couldn't come, of course, so I talked to him on the phone the whole way and back. I nearly suffered from a little separation anxiety. Between that and not really believing that he was there...I just wanted to be with him.
He and a couple others met me at the van to carry in the food. And then he and I just sat in the van together. And ate our cheeseburgers and fries together. And talked together. Together.
Finally, at just before 1am, they were gathered into formation, given a few orders and directives for the next day, and then were released to go home.
We have no idea if that offending company found the missing pieces.
Or if they were ever lost at all.
Or if there was really a reason to keep us there so late.
Some things just never quite resolve.
But Andrew drove me home in the early morning hours. And all I care about is that he's back. And he's already gone today, at the company for a full day of work. We're just pretty much lucky (according to the 1st Sergeant) that they're still not "in the field" and can come home nights during this after-training-recovery process.
And so, I'm going to take my baby some lunch on this fine Sunday afternoon.