Back in July, Zach and I were able to spend four consecutive days together -- the longest amount of time we've spent with each other since December of 2008 (right before he joined the Marine Corps). It was a Friday night at his house, which normally entails staying up ridiculously late watching movies with his brothers & sisters in the living room. However, I was beyond exhausted, and as much as I adore spending time with the Jones family, I decided to be a pathetic old lady and call it a night a little before 11PM. I remember telling everyone that I was going to bed, and telling Zach that he should stay downstairs with his family. But, of course, he insisted on walking upstairs with me and making sure I had everything I needed. As I finished getting ready and crawled in the bed, I told him to have fun hanging out with everyone, but he quietly responded:

Would it be okay if I just stayed with you for a little bit?

It was totally not like him -- all sentimental & whatnot -- but I consented. He gently sat down at the foot of the bed and proceeded to... just watch me sleep for a few minutes, I guess. The next night, we found ourselves in the living room alone, as the boys had gone out and the girls had already gone to bed. I was sitting at the computer in the corner, determined to defeat Minesweeper, and Zach was sitting on the couch. Out of nowhere, he spoke up:

Beth, would you just come sit with me? Please?

One super sentimental moment during the weekend was one thing, but back-to-back nights? Something was clearly up. I whipped my head around and said:

Zach, did you get orders? Are you deploying?

He was shocked, but chuckled as he motioned for me to join him on the couch. As I curled up in his arms, he kissed the top of my head and assured me that no, he had not received orders. And if/when he ever received orders, he would not accept or reject them until we had the opportunity to discuss it together.

If only the Marine Corps worked that way...

Fast forward almost two months. Instead of being awoken by the fire alarm like yesterday, Zach woke me up this morning to tell me that... he had gotten orders to a unit on LeJeune. (I'm near-petrified to fall asleep tonight, because after fire alarms and unit transfers, I'm not sure what I'm going to wake up to tomorrow...) They weren't really offered to him, like most other people. They were just given to him, without any option to reject. I'll be honest; I'm fairly certain the first words out of my mouth were "I'm gonna be sick..."

However, once the initial shock was over, I surprised myself with how okay I was. This is something that I have been mentally prepared for and have known was a possibility for quite some time. Plus, Zach has wanted to do this forever; it's part of why he joined. Although he is nervous and uncertain, he is excited...and I'm excited for him! We were able to talk later today after he got off work and I found out a few more details -- he'll be training in California for roughly a month and (at this point) is set to deploy to Afghanistan in March.

*[All of the details are still up in the air and subject to change at any time. Welcome to the Marine Corps.]*

Anyone who knows me knows that I've already started making lists and thinking things like, "if I go ahead and start writing a letter a day right now, I'll have enough to send over with him so he'll be guaranteed to open one a day, even if he's in a more remote area and only gets mail every couple of weeks." Of course, Zach doesn't want to think about any of these things at the moment, understandably, so I have to be extra cautious to not focus on the upcoming events. It makes sense -- our life is going to revolve around a deployment for the majority of next year; there's no need to make it the center of our attention for six months leading up to everything.

But yeah, the beginnings of the first deployment have begun. Granted, they didn't exactly begin with the idealistic sentimental moment on the living room couch due to our long distance relationship. But I'd so much rather have the randomly sweet and sentimental moments just because :)