(Note: I can not share too much about the base, or other pictures taken to insure the safety of the Marines. One thing we learned on family day.)
August 2, 2017…the day before I realized my baby was now a man…and a Marine.
My parents and I flew to San Diego to see my only child graduate from boot camp to become a full fledged Marine. On the flight down I met Frank from Bremerton. Funny guy who I quickly became facebook friends with, and who was giving me life advice, especially because he is a Marine.
On the plane we even saw a women bring her toilet paper with her from the bathroom…on her shoe. She made it half way down the plane until someone told her she had a buddy on her shoe. Reminds me of a night at Cascade Pizza in Mount Vernon…a long, long…looonnnngggg time ago. Me, around 23 years old, having to pee, I go to the bathroom, as I’m washing my hands I hear my jam come on, I run out of the bathroom and go straight to the dance floor. My ex was already out there dancing, and I stand in front him and start dropping it like it was hot (for the younger generation it was like the 90’s version of twerking but more of a workout in my opinion) The DJ who was a friend and classmate of mine just had to come on the microphone to ask me what I had on my boot…yep, no one else, including my ex told me what was there. I look down at my feet…along with everyone else in the bar…and holy shit…I see a very long piece of toilet paper had hopped a ride on the bottom of my boot, and it made it onto the dance floor with me. Maybe it was the toilet papers jam too? hmmm, reminds me of the movie Sausage Party. (not a kids movie)
Once we landed, my dad and I found out my mom saved a few bucks by booking an off brand rental car. We knew why it was cheaper very quickly. We took a shuttle to the car rental place, then a smaller shuttle that we waited way too long for to another car rental place. The temperature in San Diego at this time…very hot.
Once at the car rental place mom and I sat outside on benches to wait for dad to give his credentials for the car rental. We took video of the planes flying uncomfortably close to us. So close we could read the safety information on the bottom of the plane. It was actually pretty cool.
Once we got our rental car we sped off to our hotel. Our hotel looked ghetto on the outside, but wasn’t bad on the inside. The pool was a little green in color, but this place would do for the next three days.
We showered and got our respectable attire on for a social hour on base with my sons drill sergeant. For me, it was a comfortable dress. We got into the base with no problem. They only asked for my dad’s info, the guard looked at my mom and I and decided we looked safe…love my disguise.
We made it to the social hour restaurant with all the other parents, grandparents, relatives and friends of the newest graduating class of Marines. We all looked apprehensive and wanting to rather see our boys that have been turned into men, but we knew that wouldn’t happen tonight…we would have our time with them tomorrow.
While waiting for dinner they plied us with liquor and had tables full of pictures, and lots of memorabilia for us to purchase…and mom and I did not disappoint. The pictures of my son didn’t even look like the child I dropped off in Seattle 13 weeks prior. He had the short hair and the dead eye stare…but my kid was still in there. I could still see that smart ass loving child I know…they couldn’t break him of that…made me proud!
We met other parents that night who were just as wide eyed as we were. Wondering how they got there, and when they were able to see their child…hoping the government had not taken away the core of who they once were.
After we had a few drinks they asked us all to go to the table with their loved ones platoon number on it. We proceeded to the table in the corner with a nice looking young man in uniform waiting for us (Quentin’s Drill Instructor). I sat next to him and shook his hand, letting him know I was Salinas’s mom. He smiled and said that he enjoyed meeting my son, and that he had heard a lot about me…and my child’s Mustang and his cat Artemis. Well, at least I was in the top three! (Proud mom moment)
We had a nice dinner, and we got a little bit of information about how all the kids did at boot camp. Quentin’s drill instructor also invited me to the bar on base for some karaoke…I really wanted to go but I could not convince my mom and dad to come with me. Dang…can’t check that off my bucket list…
We headed back to the hotel/motel and went quickly to sleep knowing we would see my baby the next day at family day on base.
August 3, 2017…Family Day
Today was the day I was going to be able to hug my child. I had not hugged him for 13 weeks…it was the longest 13 weeks of my life.
We went to the base, but to a different entrance. We had to exit our car while a dog searched our car, we were wanded and carded before being released to go back to our car and drive to family day. I wore a dress this day too because it was sooooo hot, plus it was sunny and my white legs needed some sunshine. As I was motioned over to get wanded the young soldier asked me to turn around and spread my legs. Because I had a dress on he was not able to wand between my legs as well as he wanted too because he then said, “Maam, spread your legs farther apart.” ummmm, ok…..
As I almost did the splits on the side walk, the young soldiers supervisor came over and said, “don’t say that to her”. The damage was already done…I was already doing the splits…
I chuckled as it was soooo funny to me…and to everyone else in the vicinity of this gymnastic move done by a, at that time, 46 year old mom…priceless.
Once we were cleared we drove onto the base and parked where instructed. We saw a glimpse of Q running with this fellow marines. It was so amazing. He looked so grown up, so fit. We were then ushered into a movie theater to watch a bunch of informational movies about the Marines, and what type of conduct us friends and relatives needed to live by now that we were part of the Marine family.
We were then ushered outside again where we got to see my child. We got to put our hands on him…finally!! There may have even been some tears shed…but I can not confirm nor deny that fact…mom.
Quentin showed us around the base for the rest of that afternoon. It was so good to see him. Only one more day and I would be able to take him home with me for at least a week! Damn I had missed my son.
We had to give him back that evening, but we came bright and and early the next day to make sure we got a good seat for the graduation.
August 4, 2017…Graduation Day!
Quentin’s dad and his family came to celebrate as well. We all sat on metal stadium bleachers, in 110 degree sun, watching my only child graduate from Marine boot camp. Proud does not even come close to the feeling I felt. The graduation was amazing, humbling and something I will never forget.
At the end of graduation all of the families spilled out of the bleachers and ran out to their new Marines…lots of smiling and crying. (hopefully you can see the video posted below that my wonderful niece took after the graduation)
We all walked to our cars, loaded up Quentin’s luggage and went to go celebrate at a local restaurant. The amount of respect and thank you’s given to Quentin at the restaurant and later at the beach restored my faith in humanity. All of the people coming up to shake his hand, thanking him for his service was so humbling.
He didn’t change out of his uniform until we got to the car rental place. Then we went to the airport and enjoyed the military discount on our dinner and we also got to board the plane first…it was amazing.
Now six months later, Quentin is doing well as a Marine. He’s not too far away from me, but not close enough. But this whole experience has made me appreciate the time I do get to spend with my son…even if the visits are too short, and too far apart. Love you Q.
Stay tuned for a future blog post where my boyfriend and I drive my son’s Mustang to California…love my road trips!