Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Throwback: He's Home from War!

It's Throwback Tuesday here at Annie One Can Cook! I know, I know.. the term is Throwback Thursday but February 18th didn't fall on a Thursday, it fell on a Tuesday so we're going with it.

What's so special about February 18th, you ask?

February 18, 2011 is the day Brandon came home from Afghanistan!

For those who don't know, Brandon and I met when he was on his two week leave from Afghanistan in September 2010 (you can read all about that here). Needless to say, we didn't get to spend much time together because of the time constraints but were able to keep in touch through letters, texts, phone calls, Skype dates, emails, etc.

I couldn't wait for him to come home!
The night we met (it was a college party so ignore the beer--classy, I know)
The next 5 months slowly crept by but it was finally February--he'd be home in a few weeks!! His hometown was about an hour and a half from where I was living at the time so his plan was to stay at his mom's house for a couple of days before coming out to visit me (he was supposed to arrive home on Friday and then come to Hays on Tuesday and spend the rest of the week with me and some of his old friends). But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I couldn't wait another day to see him--not only was he going to be in the same country and timezone, he was going to be in the same state!

And that's when it came to me: I was going to surprise him when he arrived on the 18th.

How was I going to do it though? Do I just get up really early and wait for his plane? Would that be weird? Would I be stepping on his family's toes by doing that? Should I try contacting his mom (who has probably never heard of me)? I didn't know what to do!

After consulting the "dream team" (my mom, Aunt Nancy & Aunt Judy), I decided to contact his mom to introduce myself and ask her if she'd mind me being there when he arrived home. I. was. terrified. After a few hours, I was finally able to get the nerve up to look her up on Facebook and write her.

*My Actual FB Message*

Conversation started February 11, 2011 

Hi Nancy,

I'm Brandon's friend, Annie. I hope you don't mind me getting in touch with you like this but I have a question to ask you.

I'm not sure what all is going on schedule wise next week with Brandon (I don't think he really knows yet either) but I was wondering if you'd mind if I came to Salina and surprised him when he gets back? I'm not sure if you're picking him up at the airport but if you are, would you mind me going with you?

If you want to keep this a family thing, I completely understand! Please let me know. I just figured I'd run it by you to see what you think. Like I said, he has no idea about this. I would come down for the day and head back to Hays that night. Let me know your thoughts.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Annnnnnnnd... send.

I waited by my computer and the anxiety began sinking in.. was it weird that I just contacted her on Facebook? Of course it was! Was she going to think I was a weirdo? Definitely. It'd been 5 minutes since I sent the message.. why hadn't she written me back yet? Probably because she was creeped out by me contacting her, that's why! Now it had been 6 minutes..

After about 7 minutes, I had decided that I'd just totally weirded out his mom by contacting her and gave up.

Oh well.. it was a nice thought.

Three hours later, I had a message.

It was her! It was Brandon's mom!

She'd written me back! She knew who I was and wanted to meet me! She thought my surprising Brandon was a great idea! I was on Cloud 9--this was really happening! He'd be home in a week!

The week leading up to Brandon's return actually went by fairly quickly (thank goodness!)--he arrived back in the states, we celebrated our first Valentine's Day with a phone date, and he finally got the official word that he'd be coming back to Kansas by bus and that he'd be in Salina at around 4am. Brandon's mom and I had also been in touch several times that week and she invited me to come stay with her on Thursday night (which sounded great to me!).
Another picture from the night we met
Thursday finally rolled around and it was time for me to pack my bags and head to Salina--I was so excited! To kill time on the drive, I jammed out to Alice in Chains: Unplugged, called my friend Jen, and prayed. Doing all of that apparently made the time go fly by because before I knew it, I was pulling into town.

This was it.

Hopefully his mom would like me..
Mamma Nancy & Me-Thanksgiving 2012
I am happy to say that Brandon's mom and I hit it off immediately (she's one of my best friends and apart of my go-to "dream team" now) and had a wonderful time visiting. We went to dinner that night with Brandon's sister and her family (I later found out that Brandon's mom invited them along in case I wasn't very talkative and things got awkward--I was happy she invited them because I was worried about the same thing!) and then headed home and got ready for bed. We had an early morning and exciting day ahead of us!

As luck would have it, I didn't sleep at all that night; I was just too excited (and nervous!) to see Brandon again. At around 3am, I decided to go ahead and get up, take a shower, and get ready (I planned to do my hair and makeup for once and needed all the time I could get). Once I looked presentable, I joined Nancy in the kitchen and she informed me that Britney (Brandon's sister) and Benny (Brandon's nephew) were awake too and wanted to come to the bus station with us--sounded great to me! So off we went to pick up Britney and Benny--after visiting at their house for a few minutes, it was finally time to go pick up Brandon!

We waited for the bus to arrive from Nancy's car (it was the middle of winter and I was wearing a dress..) and all jumped out as soon as we saw it pull up.

This was it.

Brandon was home!

We watched the soldiers march out of the bus one by one to greet their families as we patiently waited for that first glimpse of Brandon..

We saw him! He was out of the bus!!
Benny and Nana waiting..
I hid behind Nancy and Britney and waited for Brandon to walk over.. 

"Whoa, what are you doing here?!" Brandon asked as soon as he saw me (don't worry, he said it in a happy way, not in a "oh shoot, it's you again.." kind of way). He proceeded to give me the biggest and best hug that I have ever had and it was then I knew that all was right with the world. 

Brandon was home. 

I ended up staying the rest of the weekend with Brandon and his mom. During that time, Brandon and I went on our first, non-Skype date (we went to see "Just Go With It" and then had ice cream and chili fries at Bogeys) and celebrated his return with a surprise party. 

Since I've written you a novel, I should probably start wrapping this up but I'm guessing you all know how the story ends?                 



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