I thought I'd share the story of how Eric and I met, got engaged, and got married in honor of Valentine's Day...
Eric and I met in the fall of 2002. I don't remember exactly what day, I kind of wish I had taken note :) Anyway, I was deployed to Bosnia with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and Eric was working for KBR (Kellogg, Brown & Root at the time). He was filling in in our transportation office while another contractor was on vacation. I was the section mail clerk...yeah, fancy, huh? I had the "pleasure" of going to get the mail every day and hand delivering it to each person in my section. Anyway, I went to take CPT Johnson his mail for the day and saw a MUCH smaller guy than usual sitting in Dave's chair. (Dave was probably about 6'5", 350 pounds or so. Obviously, Eric ISN'T that large). I thought I'd be funny and say "Wow, Dave, you've lost weight!" Eric spun around in his office chair and I couldn't believe this handsome guy looking back at me (I didn't notice the taper leg jeans until later...eeek!) CPT Johnson introduced us and was sure to point out that we were both single. I felt myself blush and soon left the office to deliver more mail. Eric and I kept running into each other here and there, he was part of our G4/S4 conference one day (maybe more, but I remember one specifically) and we had lunch afterwards with SGM Durand. We talked about working out (something we'd still like to be doing together) and set up a "date" to go to the gym. We consider our anniversary Dec 31, 2002...the day we shared our first kiss. Awww...
I redeployed back to the US in March 2003 and Eric and I couldn't stand being apart from each other. He found a job opening for me, I applied and by the end of May I was back in Bosnia to be with him. It was much different being there together as civilians. People could actually know about our relationship, which was kind of cool :) We had lunch together, we had dinner together, we worked out together, we played ping pong together, we played pool together, we hung out at Triggers a lot to eat pizza. We just had a really nice time getting to know each other without a lot of the "real world" interfering.
In August 2003 we planned our first R&R together and went to Italy. We rented a car and drove from Croatia, through Slovenia (where we met up with Eric's cousin Polona), and then on to Italy. We visited several cities including Venice, Verona, Naples, Lavorno (sp?), Florence, Milan and Rome (I may have missed some). I got to see where Eric was stationed and he showed me the sidewalk he helped put in...awww, how romantic :) When we were in Venice we definitely took a gondola ride. The gondolier gave us champagne and sang a little. We just took in the sites and relaxed after a long day of site seeing. I don't remember how it all happened but Eric asked me to marry him while we were on the gondola. He didn't have the ring :( It was being mailed to him in Bosnia but it didn't come in before we left for our trip so I had to wait until we got back to see it!!! I was tempted to not say "yes" until I saw the ring :) No, I said "yes" without hesitation...I knew this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. The ring was an added bonus when we got back...1 1/2 carat emerald cut platinum. HELLO...WINNER! I still get compliments on my ring and I LOVE every minute of the attention it brings me :)
Now we were ready to get the wedding plans started!! I have to take you back to Feb 2003 for a second...the Stars & Stripes newspaper had this Valentine's Day thing where you could put a greeting for your special someone. Everyone who put in a greeting was entered to win two round trip tickets from anywhere in Europe to anywhere in the United States. You'll never believe it...WE WON! I was so embarrassed because they put a picture of us covering the entire page of the paper. So much for no one knowing we were an "item". Oh well, at least we got free airfare to our destination wedding in HAWAII!! We flew from Vienna, Austria all the way to Honolulu, Hawaii. I think the trip took 53 hours from start (from the time the van picked us up on Eagle Base) to finish. I could be wrong, but I do know it was exhausting. We had to stay overnight in Germany then we had several lay overs and plane changes in the US. We couldn't wait to get in to Hawaii and rest! The time difference was 12 hours (Bosnia being 12 hours ahead of Hawaii) so we thought we'd have a hard time adjusting. But let me tell you, with all that traveling we had NO PROBLEMS going right to sleep!
We got married on March 6, 2004 with only 12 people in attendance...my dad, my mom and her boyfriend at the time, my brother, my aunt cindy, uncle tony and their girls Steph and Sierra, Eric's sister Jennifer and her husband Joe and Eric's parents. It was a beautiful wedding and I wouldn't change a minute of it. We had a single violinist and some refreshments for after the ceremony (probably even some before since I was late to the wedding...oops!). The funniest thing that happened was there was a wedding going on in the lot adjacent to our wedding and they had a big ol' loud organ playing the wedding song (you know the one after they announce you husband and wife) and it was playing somewhere in the middle of our ceremony. It's the only thing you can hear on our wedding video :) After the wedding we went to a local Hawaiian restaurant that served traditional Hawaiian foods buffet style. We ate, drank and were merry :) It was a beautiful day and a beautiful experience over all! I hope Maddie wants to do a destination wedding when she gets married!
We spent 2 full weeks in Hawaii, one week with both our families there, then one week just for us to do some SCUBA diving and site seeing on our own. Eric went skydiving. I didn't. It was sad to have to return to Bosnia :( I find it funny that I don't remember how long the trip back took. I guess I didn't care since I wasn't in a hurry to get back, huh? I stayed in Bosnia until June 2004 and went back to the States when my contract expired. Eric headed over to Iraq in July 2004 and we didn't see each other again until Thanksgiving of that year. That was rough! But now it makes our 8 weeks apart seem like nothing compared to that!
Sorry for the long post :) I enjoyed this walk down memory lane...I can't wait to see my hubby again in 11 days!! He'll actually be home for our 6th anniversary :) YAY!