Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Germany - Homecoming Part 3 (finally!!!)

Remember that time I started writing about homecoming and my trip to Germany...back in April? Remember how I never finished those? Whoops, life got a tad busy. Anyways, I have had this written for a long time, just never finished it, and here it finally is. Part 1. Part 2.

The guys were expected home late late on April 6th, or very early morning on the 7th. Amy had been told at an FRG meeting that the activity center would be set up with the banners and podium once we got the 5 hour call that they were on their way home. (When I woke up on the morning of the 6th, Amy told me that she had gotten a call that trail party was arriving at 10:30 am and our guys would be after that). We took Sarah to her play group at 9 AM, which was in the activity center, and found that it already decorated with banners, signs, and the podium. We looked at each other in shock that it was already set up and wondered where our phone call was. We worried that they had called the house phone, not her cell phone like she instructed, but we continued on with play group instead. We killed time that afternoon by hanging out with the wives of the trail party, waiting with them for a little bit, going to lunch on post, me buying some beer for Seth to put in his room, putting the sign on his door that Sarah and I made and very anxiously awaiting our phone call. We would be in our own little world, dreaming of the next few hours, and one of us would just suddenly say a number, or hold up fingers, indicating a countdown of hours until they were expected home.  We talked about if we didn't get a phone call by a certain time, would we give up hope it was happening that night? When should we go to bed? Or should we pull an all nighter? Should Sarah go down for a nap, or should we keep her up and then put her to bed really early, only to wake her up a few hours into her sleep? Our heads were completely spinning with possibilities as we debated this very serious stuff! My heart would literally skip a beat when the phone would ring. We would turn our heads so fast to look at each other, and our mouths would drop and we'd say OMG! THIS IS IT!  Of course, it wasn't THE phone call, but we'd still get super excited.

Finally, after an agonzing day of waiting and thinking, at 7:30 pm on April 6th, we got our 5 hour warning phone call. We were told they landed in Germany and were going through customs. We were told we'd get another call back when they cleared customs and they were on their way to post. This is what I wrote in my vacation journal about getting that phone call: "All afternoon, every noise sounded like the phone ringing. It finally did for real at 7:30 pm and both of us jumped and she ran to get it. I called Sarah and she had a huge smile on her face. When Amy got off the phone, we both screamed and we got Sarah to scream in excitement and I felt like I was going to puke (from excited nerves) and she got a bloody nose (from excited nerves)."  She put Sarah down for bed, so she would have a little bit of a nap before being woken up in the middle of the night to go get her daddy. We tried to stay calm until we received the second phone call, which came at 8:45 pm. They had cleared customs and were really on their way home!! We were told if we got to the activity center at 11:30 pm, we would be there in plenty of time before the guys. We had planned earlier in the day to trade cameras, so pictures of me and Seth would be on my camera, and pictures of her and her husband would be on her camera. (We did have a girl who offered to take pictures for us; her husband was in the field training for a few weeks so she was free. But since it was midnight that that guys were expected home, we didn't ask her to do it after all). We spent the night getting ready and finally left her house at about 11 PM to head to the activity center. (We headed towards the main gate to exit, only to find that it closes at 10, so we had to back track, go further out of the way to exit the other gate to walk to the post that the activity center is on). She got Sarah up just a few minutes before we had to walk out the door, dressed her real quick and we headed out the door. We were practically running to the activity center, because we couldn't get there soon enough. It was pitch black out, a few street lights, a cool night, a car here and there, and us. Amy stopped to get a daffodil, and put it in her hair and kept one for Sarah. As we were getting to the primeters of post, I heard a diesel engine and looked back and said OMG MAYBE THAT'S THEM!!! Then we speculated, and walked/ran faster then determined it wasn't them. As we got closer to the entrance gate, we heard soldiers being loud and said maybe it was them, they had gotten there early, and they were waiting until 11:30 when familes were expected to be there. Amy said she wasn't looking, because she didn't want to ruin the surprise if it was them.

We got to the activity center at about 11:30 and Toby Keith's American Soldier was playing on the sound system. There were red, white and blue balloons everywhere, kids were running around with pure excitement, throwing balloons, chasing each other, jumping up and down. Soldiers were getting the podium in place, there was a slideshow playing on the wall with pictures from Afghanistan and the level of excitement in the room was awesome. Toby Keith's American Soldier song gets me every single time, and now when I hear it, I have the memory of walking into the activity center, getting ready to welcome home my love from his deployment. My heart swelled with an enormous amount of pride and excitement when I walked into the room. Considering it was midnight...and getting later into the middle of the night as the waiting continued, the kids did extremely well. There were no major breakdowns, the kids all played well, and were extremely excited knowing that their mom or dad would be home SOON. The garrison commander walked around and introduced himself and asked who we were and who we were waiting for. He was pretty nice, but I was nervous as hell to talk to him! Finally, around 1:30 AM, the white buses drove by and we could see them through the open doors. Amy and I sat down on the bleachers, switched cameras and tried to remain calm. The fog machine started generating the fog, the lights were dimmed, the music stopped and everyone got quiet and sat down. Suddenly the guys broke through the big red banner that said, "welcome back, Bravo!!" and everyone started screaming and snapping pictures and looking for their loved one. I scanned every face as they walked in and into formation and didn't see Seth. I saw Lee (Amy's husband) and Bubba and recognized a few others, but couldn't find Seth whatsoever. Amy is lucky that Lee is over 6 feet, so he stood over everyone and I got some good pictures of him. My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking and I couldn't find Seth. Plus, the fog machine was fogging everything up, so that was blurring the faces. All of them were in, but I still hadn't seen Seth and was getting terrified that he didn't make the flight for some reason. I started re-scanning the faces. I finally found him, in the last row, about 5th from the last! There were a few very short (thankfully!) speeches, and then the soldiers were released and Lee came right over to Amy and I waited to get a few pictures of them before I went and found Seth. Then Amy was right behind me and she got a few pictures of Seth and me. Within minutes, we walked out of the activity center, holding hands, reunited, finally. We walked with Lee, Amy and Sarah and then the guys got their bags from outside, and Amy and I congratulated each other that we finally made it, hugged each other, then went off with our guys. They went home and I snuck into the barracks with Seth for the next few nights.
The next few days consisted of soccer games, in-processing, hanging out with Amy and Sarah, and eating German food. I finally had a chance to meet the soldiers that Seth had talked about so many times too. Seth got a really dirty room and the shower was full of mold. So while Seth was doing his in-processing stuff, I cleaned the hell out of his shower. We had a picnic/bbq with Lee and Amy on a gorgeous, warm, sunny German afternoon. Seth also taught Sarah how to fist bump and it was the cutest thing ever!! Seth accompanied me to the Frankfurt airport (the train was packed for some reason, and I'm pretty sure we walked the whole length of the train cars to try to find a seat...and found nothing. We finally sat down in an area where the doors open and close, because it was a long ride. We hung out at the train station for a little while and then stayed the night at the Sheraton. (That place is really expensive in Euros!)

Ok, if you made it through that long of a post, here are some pictures!!! 

welcome home!!!

waiting to be released!!

armed with tilex to take care of the mold in the shower. i used a clean sock as a face mask and one of those stretchy things to hold their uniform pants up on their boots to tie it to my face. a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...
german soda

soccer game. or football as they call it. 

walk back to post from lee and amy's

so this banana here? when seth got his stuff delivered from storage,  he got his favorite black backpack and it had mold all over it. he couldn't figure out why and was getting pissed that they ruined it....and then he found a banana sitting in the front pocket. it was so old and gross and hairy and nasty, it didn't even smell bad (thankfully). but he hosed it off the in the shower and it's good as new, as he would say. it's sitting on our living room floor right now. i would have thrown it away if that happened to me.

frankfurt train station