eHopeful Part 3: High Altitude

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” I texted to one of my closest friends back home.

I was sitting on a piece of sun-bleached driftwood, my feet in the sand, staring west across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The water stretched between the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, where I was planted, and Victoria, British Columbia, approximately 25 miles away.

eHarmony-Frank-naval-base-beach

Every five minutes, a deafening roar pierced the silence. I looked up. This time, two fighter jets soared across the horizon. It was like they were performing synchronized swimming in the sky.

“Cooooooolllll,” I thought. “I’ll have to ask Frank about that move.”

Just a few months earlier, I separated from my husband, got laid off from work, and had no idea where my life was headed. Thanks to the wonders of online dating and a penchant for making the first move, I now found myself 3,000 miles from home, on a 3-day-long first date with a Navy pilot named Frank.

We had met face-to-face in Seattle just two days before (for more, check out Part 1 and Part 2!), and by then, I was pretty sure I’d met my soul mate. I mean, what were the chances my second eHarmony match would mention a love of bacon, hiking and dental floss all in one profile?

I dug my toes a little further into the sand, smiling. The earth was rockier than at Discovery Bay, where we’d been yesterday, serenaded by a nearby group of musicians. We had sat mostly in silence, in between bouts of making out, punch drunk and full of chocolate from a tour of Theo’s – one of the many surprises Frank had had in store for me.

eHarmony-Frank-Discovery-Bay

Earlier, we’d ridden the Seattle “Ride the Ducks” Tour, shivering beneath a tiny blanket, while we ventured from land to sea and back to land. Frank had sung along to the corny soundtrack -especially when it was a country song- which did a much better job of warming me up. His voice was on key, deep and rumbling, making me giggle and blush.

eHarmony-Frank-duck-tour eHarmony-Frank-Duck-Tour-2

That morning, Frank made green smoothies at his house and brought one for me for breakfast. It was delicious.

The Auld Holland Inn complimentary breakfast leaves much to the imagination.

The Auld Holland Inn complimentary breakfast leaves much to the imagination.

We had time to kill before he had to report to base, so Frank drove us up to Deception Pass.

“Do you know why they call it that?” he asked.

I shook my head, still not comfortable enough to make my usual jokes.

“The original explorers had trouble finding their way around Whidbey Island and thought it was a peninsula. But we call it that because some pilots try to fly under the bridge, which looks deceptively easy.”

I shuddered at the thought of trying to fly a fighter jet under the tiny archway.

eHarmony-Frank-Deception-Pass

“I was hoping you’d get to see my last flight on the Prowler [before we officially retire it],” Frank apologized. “But now it’s not scheduled until Thursday.”

“That’s okay,” I replied immediately.

“You’ll still get to see me fly today, though,” he added, while I wondered what the heck a Jersey girl with almost zero understanding of the military wore on base. My running outfit? Sneakers? I had only packed one small suitcase.

I tried not to ask too many questions as Frank explained that I needed to keep his I.D. on me in order to get around base. He introduced me to everyone, and some of his squadron shot him a knowing glance when they thought I wasn’t looking. The base reminded me a little bit of a college campus, a self-contained community with its own hotel, McDonald’s and gym. In my bright red raincoat and running shoes, I was sure I’d get thrown out any minute.

I camped out in a large room with movie theater-style seats and a projector screen, trying to look busy with my phone, while everyone else went behind closed doors to discuss top level security clearance-y type things. I glanced around surreptitiously; the back wall held the coffee mugs, each emblazoned with a flight name (think “Maverick” and “Goose”).

“When do I get a flight name?” I asked Frank later.

“You have to earn it,” he replied with mock solemnity. “Want to see us get suited up?”

I’d never been a sucker for a man in uniform, but snapped about a hundred pictures as Frank pulled on one thing after another from his locker.

eHarmony-Frank-flight-suit

I am no longer immune.

After missing both his ascent and descent (thanks to my sheer blonditude), Frank led me over to the tarmac to snap this photo:

IMG_6204

I was THISCLOSE to getting my picture inside.

That night we shared another romantic dinner and tried not to think about the inevitable.

Our goodbye the next morning was bittersweet, standing in front of my red rental minivan, my age-old insecurities threatening to spill over: How does he feel? Did he have a good time? Does he really want to be with me? As he walked away and put on the final piece of his flight suit, his cap, I thought,

“Nothing will ever be the same.”

I was right.

eHarmony-Frank-I-love-you

Stay tuned later this week for the final edition: Part 4: Crash Landing!

~*~*~*~*~*

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55 responses to “eHopeful Part 3: High Altitude

  1. Pingback: eHopeful Part 2: We Have Lift-off | Go Jules Go

  2. A handsome jet pilot with make-out skills who sings country songs on key? What could possibly go wrong?!

  3. Hurry up and post the next part–I’m hooked!!

  4. Goose sounds like a keeper! Hurry up and post part 4 already!

    • There were some really great mugs on that wall. I was too afraid to snap a picture. I kept envisioning some sort of S.W.A.T. team descending from a helicopter and bringing me to Alcatraz every time I took photos. …It’s possible I may not have learned much more about the military since this experience.

      • I would have snapped away! All they could have done to you was ask you to delete them, ya know! We have a few friends in our police department and have learned a lot from them too! It’s good to have friends in high places!

  5. Crash landing? The honeymoon does end, for any relationship worth its salt, but I’m not sure I want it to end.. not just yet!

  6. Long story short – I AM FREAKING OUT. And I missed your guts.

  7. The suspense IS killing me!!

  8. So far it sounds perfect. Too good to be true, I guess. I suppose those really WERE knowing looks from his friends.

  9. Please please please don’t make us wait a whole week to read Part 4. The suspense is unbearable!!!!

    In other thoughts… I love how you described the Navy base. I work on one and it is exactly how you portrayed it, right down to the gallery rooms to watch the operations. Well done in using your feminine wiles to get around! 😉

  10. Well, all sounds good, but I have to tell you, he isn’t very good looking – the round blue face just doesn’t do it for me.
    Scott

  11. This is quite the first date. Way better than when my husband ditched me!

  12. Edge of my seat over here!

  13. .What’s next? He’s married? Ax murderer ?(still my favorite option)..then you went into the bathroom and Bobbie Ewing walked out of the shower? The suspense is killing me, smalls!

  14. I’m ready for the finale. Pretty daring and exciting so far…

  15. The title of “Crash Landing” sounds ominous

  16. This is a fantastic tale so far, I’m worried about the crash landing though, it’s hard to imagine a crash landing being something good! * bites nails anxiously…

  17. I’m peeking out between my fingers. I don’t like the sound of the next installment. (Unrelated: I had to google how to spell “peeking.” Peak? Peek? I really need to start writing again…)

    I’m so glad you wrote this. Writing IS therapy, right? Glad you’re back.

  18. Yeah, um, I’m voting you woke up the following day next to Bob Newhart?

  19. You evil temptress, giving us a title for the next installment like that and then just taking off! There are few things sexier than a military man. You can think you’ll be immune and then four seconds after first sight, your panties are ready to take themselves off. Ha!

    • I did JET off and leave you hanging, didn’t I? Oh! Bad puns! Now I’m just plain evil.

      As for the rest: My dad reads this blog. And my boss. So. No comment.

  20. I am just DYING. Not only do I seriously love these ehopeful posts, but also this just reminds me so much of me and Romeo. He’s military and a pilot and my first time on base I remember being so completely out of my element. I’m on pins and needles hoping that things with you and Frank work out 🙂

  21. SHUT UP. Best. Post. Ever. I don’t even know you, and I’m getting all giddy and stupid and excited for you over here. Squeeeee!

  22. I’m hoping you’re just misdirecting us, but labeling the last installment “Crash Landing” made me audibly say “oh no!” Good thing I’m the only one at the office right now…

  23. Pingback: eHopeful Part 4: Crash Landing | Go Jules Go

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