In case you just started reading this series of posts, you will want to read these first.
As the plane touched down in Orlando, Florida I realized a few things. My nights of fantasizing about killing my mother in her sleep were over. I know... shocking, but true. I never had the guts to do it. Somewhere in my mind I always pictured her waking up and killing me instead, that's how afraid of her I was back then. That thought alone kept me nailed to my bed. I knew she was capable. I look back at that time with almost a comfort. I'm glad I didn't kill her, mostly because I would have spent the rest of my life in prison. I wouldn't be here, at this moment today.
Living at Lila's for two months had given me a taste of what life actually was. I was a little scared not to have someone controlling my every move, and making my decisions for me.
The first day of boot camp was interesting. You know those movies where you see two Gunny Sargents yelling for the princesses to get out of bed as they bang on an empty garbage can? Then proceed to spray the recruits with spittle while screaming in their faces? That's not a silly stereotype. They actually do that stuff. As a punishment for bringing all the crap my recruiters told me I could, and for appearing like a complete and utter "princess", I got the joy of lugging a 60 pound bag to each and every place we went that day, including chow, inoculations, and uniform fittings. Maybe it was that classic Mickey Mouse sweat shirt I was wearing.
Two weeks into it, I had found my niche. I had quickly realized that being in a place that treated me like a nobody, yelled insults, and ordered me around every second of the day... was actually a little better than home. I thought to myself- in the midst of doing my 60th push up- that I have endured so much worse, this was actually a piece of cake.
Boot camp did have it's hilarious moments too. Our barracks was about half the length of a football field. Since I was one of the last few to fill up the company, my bunk was on the opposite end of our Company Commander's office. While the CC was up at the front screaming at our fellow booters, holding us in upright push up position for minutes on end, us lucky summuma guns at the end were resting on our knees. She'd start down our way and we'd pop up off of our knees. Also, I became very good at sleeping on my feet. I managed to drown out the noise of my CC's yelling and screaming- heck I was used to that- with my own rhythmic breathing. A few times I almost toppled over, and after that a fellow recruit across from me would start making faces to keep me awake. Thank God I was at the other end of the barracks, because her crossed eyes kept me awake alright, and I would shake shudder in silent laughing fits, all while standing at attention. A few times she even farted, all for my benefit.
Later, after boot camp when we arrived at our first duty station, I would show her my gratitude by buying her a Sony Walkman. :O)
My Company Commander asked us one day if any of us wanted to be in the boot camp choir, preforming at graduations for booters. I piped up, the first to thrust my hand up out of about 15. My CC asked me to stand up and sing something, and to please not embarrass her (no mention of embarrassing myself). After weeks of hearing Anita Baker's sultry voice coming from my CC's office in our barracks, and that being the only music I had heard in weeks, I took a brave breath and belted Anita's Sweet Love as clear and sweet as I could. Singing her favorite artist's song... Call it sucking up, call it self preservation, call it what ever you want. I call it pretty darn smart since it got me out of weeks and weeks of drills (marching with a gun) and chow hall duty .
Boot camp seemed to fly by for me after that, even though I was getting up at o'dark thirty in the morning everyday for choir practice. My company got up at about 5:30 every morning, and I think we got up a whole hour before they did. Even though we had to fill our time with busy work after we got back from choir practice- while the rest of the company was drilling- like cleaning the barracks bathroom for the third time in 2 days... being in the choir had its perks. We were told to also sweep and mop, and each of us would clean then take a nap while pretending to dust the underside of the bottom bunks. Genius. We never got caught.
My family flew down for my boot camp graduation, we had Chinese and went to Disneyland with a cute booter ( Bill, a guy I met in choir) and his family. My mother got mad because I wanted to spend time with the cutie and not her... and we made plans to go to a "booter party"- which was code for getting naked in his parents hotel room. ;O) What happened next was sweet yet embarrassing... my step-dad, having never talked to me about sex before, asked me if I had condoms. Imagine my surprise. Barely able to speak, let alone look him in the eye, I muttered I would get some.
That night we missed curfew coming back to base, and were within seconds of being held back for another 8 weeks because we had broken the rules. After the taxi dropped us off at the front gate I never ran so hard in my life, and my lungs burned so bad I was certain I could taste blood. Luckily, the Petty Officer that was on duty that night at the security desk had a crush on my CC, so he pretended that he didn't see us come in 2 minutes late. He looked up at the clock a few minutes after that pretending he just saw us. The next day my family flew home, and a few days after that I was on my way to Great Lakes to start Corps School. I never saw the cutie again.
All the while, I had been saving up part of my paycheck in a Navy sponsored program called the G.I. Bill. They would match the 12% of my paycheck that was deducted every month and set it aside for college. we could also send money home if we wanted. Pppsshhh yeah, right! The rest of my paycheck was kept back for the whole 8 weeks except for 20 bucks we had to buy what we needed at the commissary. Soooo, at the end of 8 weeks I was presented with a $1,200 check.
Hmmm, I was at Orlando International , which was part shopping mall, part airport. I had 1,200 bucks in my hand... what was a girl to do? Heck ya, I went shopping! I had so much fun spending part of that money on a $70 Walkman (Now with Auto Reverse and Mega Bass! Ooooh!), some clothes, cassette tapes and dinner that I had missed my flight. GAH!
I ran as fast as I could thinking I could make it, but the plane had already gone... I was without a watch and running about an hour behind. I was terrified! What would they do to me when they found out I had missed my plane for shopping? I was near tears when I got to the counter, and the attendant was so nice to me that she bumped someone so I could have a seat on the next flight.
This was the beginning of my serendipitous meeting with my future husband. Who would I be sitting next to? Yup, you guessed it... business men.
I have to admit though, I did look pretty hot in my dress uniform...
Tune in for part five- the final installment- where I introduce the guy that kind of annoyed me... right into loving him!
*I hear a collective Awwwww coming from the ladies, and a groan from the guys in my head right now*