Pinning on those wings!
The airports are all different. Some military, some civilian. Some small operations, some are of the huge international variety. I've driven away in sweltering heat, freezing cold with ice and snow covered roads, sometimes when the sun is out, but most of the time it's "0'dark thirty". We change places in the car and I get in the drivers seat, close the door, wave good bye one last time, take a deep breath and drive away. For years I've done this. Different jets and different cities, but the experience has always been universal and included the same things in the same order.
Leaving the airport this time was the same as it's always been. My handsome half, dressed in his sharp uniform with 4 stripes on the sleeves and the shiny gold wings over the breast pocket, went to work. He loves his job and I do too. It may have it's challenges for both of us, but it's what he's always wanted to do, and what makes him happy, makes me happy. I can't imagine being married to a 9 to 5ver. What would that be like? He spent some time on the management side of the operation for awhile and I got a bit of a taste, but even that job included weird schedules and absences.
The man I married decided he wanted to fly at 6 or 7, actually started to fly at 14 and has been sitting in the front seat gazing out the windscreen ever since. For 47 years he's literally been seeing the world from the best seat in the house. He's explored the spaces from sea level to 51,000 feet and everything in between all over the world, experienced inflight emergencies, flown in every kind of weather imaginable; he even got the news at altitude that I was in labor and managed to make it home in time to experience the birth of our second daughter.
It's been an amazing ride for me as well. The first time in my life that I ever flew was at barely 17 years old, on August 17, 1974 with him, my 18 year old boyfriend, at the controls. We took a 2 seater airplane on a journey to Santa Catalina Island off the coast of California. They had good buffalo burgers at the FBO on Catalina so we flew over and enjoyed a great lunch before flying home. On the way back, he turned the airplane on it's side so that I could get a good view of the boat races that were going on in the ocean below us.
I've gotten to do things because of his career that most can't imagine. I sat on the grass between two runways while he did touch and go's in a supersonic jet. I looked up from our back patio while he flew over the house so low that I would have sworn I could count the rivets if he'd only slowed down. LOUD. That was very loud. I stood in the cockpit while the jet did touch and go's. I've flown flight simulators, experienced in-flight vertigo, and I know what his symptoms of hypoxia are after seeing him in an altitude chamber. He made sure I understood the controls, and the order of business so that if there was ever a need, I could land what we were flying. We've "lived a lot of places, done a lot of things, and collected a lot of stuff". I see a hashtag in there somewhere!
We dated for 4 years before we got married and today, May 27, 2017 marks our 39th wedding anniversary. As has been the case on several anniversaries, he isn't home. But I have high hopes that he'll make it before midnight.
May 27, 1978
It's been a good life. I wish I could do it over again just for the fun of it! I'm beyond blessed.
Intreat me not to leave thee,
or to return from following after thee:
For whither though goest,
I will go;
and where though lodgest,
I will lodge:
Thy people shall be my people,
and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die,
and there will I be buried:
The Lord do so to me,
and more also,
if ought but death part thee and me.