In case you missed it, Michael & I were featured on CBS Morning News when he FINALLY returned home from deployment! The events leading up to our stardom were pretty surreal so I figured I’d share them all, along with this write-up I did for it.
Originally, the Truman was supposed to make their way back home on December 17 so that’s the date I booked my flight for. Well for some reason it ended up changing to the 16 but the last time I rebooked a flight for him, I ended up paying 2 grand to get my butt back home from Europe so I was a hard no on switching until he informed me he won a contest to be one of the first people off the ship and get the first kiss back after deployment – so of course, my mom and I made all the calls to get my flight rebooked because can’t pass that up. Shortly after this, he asked me if I would be okay possibly being on TV – while I hate being the center of attention and the thought of a camera in my face terrified me, I couldn’t pass it up so I said yes thinking not much would come of it. That’s when it started escalating, I was talking to the CBS producers, trying to plan times to get interviewed and coordinating my flight and arrival to base. When they realized I was in Chicago rather than Norfolk, they had me tape some video diaries but homegirl was too nervous to chat to herself for over 2 minutes at a time so I wrote all that below to help me – it didn’t actually make it in the segment (Mike definitely had some better things to say than me 😉 ) but I wanted to share for all of you who asked about our story!
They finally announced to the public that they are coming home! So I figured now was a great time to share our story. Michael and I have only known each other for a year and a half and we’re getting married in 2 weeks on New Year’s Eve. To say our relationship has been untraditional would be an understatement but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We are both from Chicago and met on a boat on Lake Michigan on the Fourth of July in 2017 – a place neither of us should have been. I had just moved home after a terrible breakup and my best friend convinced me to come to her childhood friends birthday party and Michael was home on last minute leave and happened to be friends with the birthday girls older brother. With a little bit of liquid courage, I gave him my number at the end of the day and texted him later that night to meet us out. When he did, I showed off a little and bought him a drink. But when he left pretty quickly, I leaned to my best friend and said I must not be his type. He proved me wrong though and texted me the next day, and every single day after that. At that time, he was still finishing up in Pensacola so we didn’t see each other for almost two months after that day on the boat but somehow I already knew he was the one. Our first date was one of his best friends weddings on Labor Day weekend so not only did I meet his group of friends but I also met his parents. And made the bold move of sitting with them during the ceremony since he was standing up in the wedding.
From there, he moved to his home base in Norfolk and I visited almost every month until he deployed in April 2018. Originally, they were supposed to do a straight through 8 month deployment so I planned to travel to Europe for 6 weeks and try to meet up with him at one of the port visits. When rumors started flying about then coming home halfway through, I spastically booked a flight to France and met up with him in Marseille in June because I was nervous my pre-planned Europe adventure would fall over the time he was back in the states. As “luck” would have it, that’s exactly what happened. They arrived in Norfolk on a Saturday in July, 2 days before I was supposed to take off to Europe. I debated so many times if I should have just cancelled the whole thing but he wouldn’t let me – he knew it was a dream of mine and refused to let it not happen. To compromise, I switched my flights around and got to spend a long weekend with him before going abroad. Long before this point, we knew we were going to spend the rest of our lives together and debated making it official before I left but decided against it so we could have all of our friends and family there as well.
Once I left for Europe, we continued the marriage conversation. I had this dream of getting married on New Year’s Eve because there’s just something about closing out one year and starting a new one in your best friends arms surrounded by all the people you love that called to me. My mom was meeting me in Greece and his dad was visiting him in Norfolk and somehow, it just happened. 5176 miles couldn’t stop us – we were engaged!
It’s been a little over 4 months since that day and it has simultaneously been the longest and quickest 4 months ever. It’s hard to compare since this is our first deployment together but I think we have a unique situation that really helped us get through it – not only has our entire relationship been long distance but we have this mutual understanding that we’re both doing the best we can and no matter what, we’re always there for each other. As hard as it is when I go for days at a time not being able to talk to him, I can’t get mad because he’s only doing his job. And I’m so proud of him for what he does. He and everybody else on that ship are working hard to protect all of us back home. It’s an honor to go through life with someone that takes on that responsibility and because of that, I try to be as strong as possible when he’s not here. Don’t get me wrong, I have some pretty bad days but it makes those 3am calls when he ports or those welcome home hugs that much more special. It’s not easy and it’s not for everyone but he is 110% worth it.
Needless to say, homecoming was extra special this year because we officially got engaged! All on TV too 🙈 Check it out “live” here.
And a huge special thank you to Elizabeth at Kimberlin Gray Photography – she happened to be there for another couple and saw this happening, snapped some pictures and sent them my way. Not only are these pictures BEAUTIFUL but they also got an event I didn’t think we’d have any pictures from – I was somewhat sad we weren’t going to have any engagement pictures and this totally topped anything I could have ever imagined. Forever thankful for you, Elizabeth!