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On this day in history

June 9, 2011

I have a weird thing for remembering dates and anniversaries of events. The last few years have been full of big dates, but today is the anniversary of a particularly good one.

June 9, 2010, I was on an overnight in Oklahoma City.  We were at the short overnight hotel, which meant you rarely did more than sleep there, but I still liked it. The rooms were newly renovated and have fun features like electrical outlets in the arms of the lounge chair and single cup coffee makers, plus a soft bed, real duvet, and glass showers (it’s the little things in life).

After settling in, I called Jonathan, but it was one of those nights where the conversation just wasn’t coming. It happens, and it’s okay. With jobs like ours, we’re used to our daily schedules not matching – one is relaxing while the other works, one plays while the other sleeps. Sometimes you are so tired you can barely undress for bed – much less speak, and, in our industry, sleep is important. So I said, “Since you don’t seem like you have much to say, I’m going to sleep.”

His response ruined my sleep for the evening and changed my life.

If you know anything about airline employees, you know that they love rumors – talk of expansion, reduction, hiring, firing, getting new planes, new bases, and the latest shenanigans that have taken place on the overnights. Some of them are so ridiculous, it’s a waste of brain energy to even think about them. Like the one about them opening a base in Vietnam! Vietnam? Who are they kidding? Our planes can’t even fly across the country and our airline has been stuck in the eastern United States for the last five years.

But, I’m writing this from Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City. Viet. Nam.

They didn’t exactly open a base, but our parent company invested in Air Mekong, a start-up airline in Vietnam, and committed our pilots to fly the planes. This announcement, the confirmation of the craziest rumor ever, came shortly after Jonathan and I decided we wanted to get married – at some point.

We started dreaming about life in Vietnam. We read everything we could online. Checked out the CIA World Factbook. Wikipediad it. Googled it. Coffee, beaches, French bread, and year-round warmth. Just our style. Jonathan’s always wanted to fly overseas, and I’ve always hoped to redo my overseas experience as a happy adult instead of a hungry, lonely backpacker. He would have a set schedule instead of being on call. We would see each other every day. I could cook as much as I wanted. I’d get a break from navy polyester. There were so many good things about it. We agreed that marriage would precede it – a thought that still shook a pair commitment-phobes like us, but it probably wouldn’t happen until the end of the year. We had plenty of time. I also had to figure out what to do about my job. I wasn’t ready to quit.

But, first things first. He still had to be chosen for the job. At this point it was like worrying about what color carpet you’ll have in your mansion once you win the lottery.

Then, a few weeks went by and Jonathan didn’t hear anything. Every time I heard of someone who had been chosen, I started distancing myself from the dream, preparing for disappointment, coming up with reasons why I didn’t really want to go anyway.

And then, that night, in his sleepy, I-have-nothing-to-say voice, he asked, “Do you want to go to Vietnam with me?” They had called that evening and asked him to start training, in Vietnam, on September 13 – just over three months away.

We met at his parents’ in California that weekend and told everyone about our plans. It was hard to know which part they were more shocked by – him getting married or anyone voluntarily going to Vietnam. They kept waiting for the punchline. But, my dear friends, it’s no joke. That weekend at St. Clement winery, my sister Christine would be the first to introduce Jonathan as my fiance (even though we weren’t officially engaged yet) beginning the rapid adjustment from boyfriend to fiance to husband.

Tonight, a year later, everything is different than it was. Instead of a lonely hotel room in Oklahoma City, I’m in our apartment in Saigon. I have a sparkly band on my left hand. I no longer own any navy polyester. I drive a motorbike, and when I travel I only use my red, vacation suitcase.



Currently reading: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Holby permalink
    June 9, 2011 17:03

    AHHHH. Makes me happy.

  2. June 9, 2011 23:30

    Ha! Almost exactly the same as my story – except that my husband doesn’t fly planes, I never wore polyester to work (praise the gods) and our maybe – hm – vietnam? Really? phase was about 8 months long, not 3. But the rush to get married, and packed and ‘We’re going to Vietnam! Shit! How do I sell a car?!’ that was all the same.

  3. Cha Cha permalink
    June 10, 2011 02:08

    Cute couple!

  4. June 10, 2011 07:40

    Love this story Grace! Your writing once again is awesome! Thank you for sharing with us!

  5. June 18, 2011 10:40

    what an exciting journey… had me on my seat…
    and yes, there was/is a punch line and you delivered it perfectly…


  6. Charity permalink
    August 5, 2011 11:20

    One of my favorite stories and best blog EVER!!! 🙂 I LOVE it!!!! 😀

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