I stood on the dock with the other wives and families - I remember it well. It was very hot. I had my sunglasses on, and only carried my ID and my keys with me. The brow was lowered. I couldn't wait! Not only did Bubblehead get to be the first one off the boat, but he was guaranteed no duty tonight, meaning we could go straight home.
All eyes were on us. There was Bubblehead - I hadn't seen him for three months. We met half-way across the brow. He took me in his arms and kissed me. (There may have been cheers from the crowd at this point - I don't remember.)
One other big deal here is that they take a picture of First Kiss, as a memento. For security purposes they don't allow any cameras down there on the docks, so you never get to take pictures of the homecomings. But First Kiss gets a picture. Even now this is one of my most favorite pictures.
On our way home, I was finally able to tell Bubblehead all about what had gone on in his absence - the fence falling over, all the little things that had gone wrong. I told him about how I had given an $80 deposit to the cable company a month ago and we still had no cable! (It is because of this that we have been loyal satellite subscribers ever since!) I told him about Kabiel getting out and me trudging through the wetlands behind our house looking for her in tears, just sure that she was gone. And I told him about the road that was STILL not paved!
We turn into the subdivision and drive down to our road and wouldn't you know.... they had paved that road between the time I had left that morning and the time we got back. There was no sign of them being there except a lovely, smooth, newly-paved street!! Amazing! Bubblehead grins at me and says "You see that! I come home and things get done!"
It isn't long after the sub gets back that the other crew takes over to get her ready to go out again, and our crew goes into off-crew. This was just the best time for us. We had a brand new house. Summer was just beginning. We were planning a trip home to Wyoming and Utah in a few weeks to visit our families. Bubblehead decided he wanted to get a tattoo, and though he couldn't talk me into the same, I was convinced to pierce my bellybutton. (After an especially difficult patrol I had stressed off a little bit of weight and I had a lovely, flat stomach!)
So he got a tattoo, and I had my naval pierced, (can you say OUCH!?) and this has always been a sort of "souvenir" of this special patrol and homecoming for us. I took the ring out of my naval when I was about 6 months pregnant with Ella, and it stayed out until about a year ago, when I just felt sad that it was gone, because of what it signified to me. So I put the ring back in. My stomach isn't as flat and lovely as it was when I had it pierced, and I've passed my bare-midriff days, but I will be keeping the ring. (At least for now.)
I have to add here what a wonderful summer we had. Bubblehead taught me to rappel while we were in Utah. We had a wonderful visit with our families. Bubblehead's nephew came back to Georgia with us for the summer. We took him to Busch Gardens, and to the beach. (It was his first time seeing the ocean!) Bubblehead took him to Atlanta for the Olympics. Such a lovely reward for such a long, stressful patrol.
One side note - I fully intended to share the picture with you, but wouldn't you know it - I can't find it! It's still in a box somewhere. I promise as soon as it comes out of hiding, I will post it.