Once Mark left for the Air Force, I was pretty bereft. I was lonely, I was bored, I was lonely. During boot camp, he was allowed to call home in a pretty limited fashion. Most of our communications were in the form of letters. If I happened to be at work or the store when he DID call, my heart was sick because I never knew when he’d be able to call again.
Once he went to tech school, I was not only bored and lonely, I was insecure. He was allowed to have a little bit of a social life and social life in tech school consisted of drinking, going to the beach, and bars and drinking some more. I was sitting at home doing very little. After my recent experience with cheating, my psyche was a wreck. If he didn’t call or was late calling or if he wasn’t there when I called him, I was sure he was cheating on me. He wasn’t, but I was afraid that he was.
Speaking of calling, my social life at the time consisted of talking to him on the phone. We’d talk for hours. My Dad worked for the phone company, so our long distance bills were free, but his weren’t. He was using a huge chunk of his pay to pay for the calls. I’d help him when I could, but I wasn’t doing much better in the money department.
After about three months of not seeing each other, he finally came home at Christmas. I think he was home for two weeks and they were an awesome two weeks. He bought me a little promise ring for Christmas that year. I knew he bought it because he used my employee discount at the jewelry store were I was now working. The very one that AH and B had tormented me in. Anyway, the ring was beautiful. I was a little heart with a fairly decent sized diamond in it. I knew it was coming, so he decided to come up with a creative way to give it to me.
He hired a Santa Claus to deliver the ring to my house. He came over for Christmas Eve dinner and just about the time we got done, someone knocked on the front door. He started smiling and told me to go answer the door. I had no idea who it was and felt a little apprehensive as I got up from the table. I walked to the front door and very clearly could see Santa standing on the front porch. Instead of opening the door, I turned around and ran back to the dining room. Mark and my parents saw the look on my face and asked me what was wrong. When I told them Santa was on the porch, Mark said “Well go answer the door!” I have a weird shy streak and really didn’t want to open the door, so Mark came with me and we let him in.
Long story short, Santa made me sit on his lap and gave me my ring and a few other smaller gifts before he took his leave to finish his Christmas Eve duties. When he left HO HO HOing and everything, I thought I was going to die. But I loved it. A few seconds after he left, we decided to look out to watch him go, but he was already gone. The super weird thing that happened that night though was the way he left. We have no idea where he went. It was actually a snowy Christmas that year and when we looked out, there were no footprints in the snow. None coming up the porch stairs pointing at the house for when he had arrived, and none going down the porch stairs pointing away, from where he left. We actually opened the door all the way and looked to either side thinking maybe he walked to the side of the porch and jumped off into the yard to walk to a car or something, but there were no footprints. None. Santa had delivered my promise ring and disappeared without a trace. I have no explanation other than it was really Santa and he sprinkled us with some kind of magical Santa dust that has protected us to this day and will hopefully continue to protect us for the remainder of our lives.
Next time, the actual engagement and the wedding that almost was.