My name is Amanda and I am dating a Soldier of the US Army. I didn't plan on dating a soldier nor did I ever once think about it. I would look at those women who were with soldiers and think to myself, "How the hell do they do that and keep smiling?" I never imagined I would actually know the answer to that until this last year. I met Jeff last summer. A friend of mine introduced us and all three of us hung out at the beach. Cliche' right? My first reaction to him was, "Wow, where has he been hiding all this time?" Jeff was on his block leave before he was to be deployed to Afghanistan. (To you women out there that don't know what that is, it's the two week vacation time the soldier gets before he is shipped out.) Jeff and I hit it off pretty well, he was super flirty, and tried too hard, I loved it. Later that night a group of friends along with Jeff and I went bowling and we all had a blast. The friend that introduced us ended up having a bonfire that night. Jeff drove with me because I didn't want to drive alone. We talked about the music we liked, annnnd flirted some more. That night at the bonfire everyone was having such a good time. Laughing, drinking, dancing, talking, etc. We kissed that night and something about that kiss was like no other kiss I have ever felt. The next couple days we spent a lot of time together. We saw fireworks, had more bonfires, and went to the movies. None of this was time alone. I was too afraid to get too involved. I thought this was just a summer fling and I didn't expect much out of it. Jeff tried so hard those two weeks to take me out, I ignored him for a few days because I felt I needed to get my feelings in check. Finally, I told him how I felt. I was scared to be involved with someone that was going away for a year. I was scared he would hurt me. I was scared I would hurt him. I was scared he would come back a different person. I was scared he would get killed.. He had two more nights left at home and we saw some more fireworks together. The national anthem played in the background, and for the first time, my real emotions for him came out. He held my face in hsi hands and told me everything was going to be alright and that nothing could hurt him and he will always be there for me. I knew then and there that there was no way this was just a summer fling. Later that night we had one last bonfire. We slow-danced to "Your call" by the band secondhand serenade, and he slipped his dog tags off and placed them around my neck. I burst into tears.
After he left back to Fort Bragg, we talked every day for a couple hours. I would wake up in the morning to the "Good morning, beautiful" text messages. Everything was great. The week before my birthday he snuck onto a plane and flew home one last time. Those three days we spent together were amazing. The day he had to leave, we drove him to the airport, I was a nervous wreck. But to my advantage he missed his flight. Men. So he got to spend one more night home and caught a red-eye in the morning. Now when I'm nervous I can't even talk. So as I was sitting in the terminal, I sat there with my hands laced in my lap. A lady spoked over the PA, "Now boarding the rest of the flight to Charlotte, NC. Last Call." Jeff looked at me and says, "Well sweetie, I really have to go now." He hugged me one last hug, kissed me one last kiss, and took off. That was the last time I saw him before he went to war. We spent his whole R and R together, and if you saw us together, you'd think we'd been together for years. I know it sounds crazy because we barely even spent 3 weeks together, but now I'm sitting here staring at half-empty storage containers thinking of what else I need to pack before I move down to North Carolina. Am I running from something? No. Am I chasing something? Totally. I'm chasing after my love. This is what God wants me to do, and I know in my heart that this is the best thing for me and for Jeff. Am I scared? Hell yes. But when I really think about it, I know that everything is going to be alright and that I'm going to be ok. I am blessed to have this man in my life. And I am blessed to have him with me to go on this crazy journey with. My life starts now, and you have the best seats in the house.