That phrase he used when signing my year book, “I’ll understand if you want to cool things off while I’m in the ARMY because you probably would want to have fun with your friends and stuff like that.” brought up the same issue of “seeing other people.” I cried, again. This pain made me want to get some distance between us. I didn’t take any of his calls the rest of the day nor would I see him that night. He caught up with me at Players the next night. His friends convinced me to talk to him again. He said he didn’t mean it like that (the cooling off thing). He explained that everyone else thought it was selfish of him to make me put my life on hold while he went to the Army. “What about her Senior Prom? What about her Home Coming Dance? Who is going to go with her without pissing you off? You will be gone during all the things for her Senior year. What is she suppose to do? Skip it all? Most girls would have walked away. She loves you.” I assured him we would be fine without dating other people. I only wanted to be with him.
Over the summer Ronnie had a few jobs. He delivered pizza from the local Putt-Putt Golf center. One night while he was at work we girls were at Kay-Kay and Dizzy Ds house for a slumber party. Since we knew he was at work we decided it would be a great idea to order pizza from Putt-Putt. He had never been to their house before so we thought it would be a happy surprise for him. Ronnie is a pretty smart guy. He knew when the caller asked for him and only him that it must be a delivery to one of my friend’s houses. When we heard a knock at the door I threw it open and kissed him! I thought he would be surprised but as I said, he already knew.
I thought he was joking when he said “When I get off work at the end of the night I know right where to find you.” Sure enough, after work he came over for a little while. We talked in his car for an hour or so then Kay-Kay and Dizzy D’s Mom said I either had to go home or come inside. Besides, this was suppose to be a guy free night, girls only. I was obviously in clear violation of the girls only rule. Although my friends were very understanding they were getting a bit tired of us. We were a sickeningly sweet couple. When we were together nothing came between us. We were always holding hands and had our arms linked together. Really. We could nauseate people from two towns over, we were just too cute for words.
At first, I decided not to tell my friends about Ronnie going into the Army at the end of summer. I didn’t want anyone to break the dream world we were living in. I didn’t want to hear over and over again of how it would never work out. I was having enough trouble on my own trying to forget that he would be leaving at the end of summer. Ronnie did try to get out of going but the Army said there was no loop hole. You signed on the dotted line and you will report as required. Near the end of summer one of his friends did find a loop hole. If you were registered as a full time student in college you could get out of your enlistment. Unfortunately, this was not an option for Ronnie. We agreed not to talk about the Army and his upcoming departure but it seemed to have a way of creeping into our perfect summer world.
July came and so did my birthday. What Ronnie gave me for my birthday I would never have expected. We tried so hard not to think of the next few months to come never mind anything further into the future. Ronnie proposed. “This is a promise that I will come back to you. I couldn’t make it through my life not knowing you will always be there. We can‘t fight it. We were meant for each other.” It was a beautiful ruby heart ring with a diamond on each side. I was thrilled! I was so happy that we were starting to make a future together rather than apart. We no longer feared the future. “I had to dig a lot of ditches to get this one so try not to loose it.” I had lost his high school ring while he was in O.C during Senior week. I was devastated. I didn’t know how to tell him. He was disappointed about my loosing his ring. He could tell how upset it made me and he was oh so sweet about the whole thing. One of his summer jobs was actually digging ditches so he did work very hard to give me that ring. He wasn’t afraid to do what it took to save up his own money before heading off to the Army.
I made sure to introduce him to everyone one of my guy pals. If their names came up while he was away he would be sure to know exactly whom I was talking about and there was absolutely nothing between me or any of them. Ronnie seemed reassured by this and took this opportunity to let each and every one of my guy pals understand that I was His girl. He made his friends promise to take care of me too while he was gone. Jim was assigned my Home Coming date if Ronnie couldn’t make it.
Ronnie’s time was spread thin while making sure to see me, his friends and work to put away some money before he left. He decided to drive me too and from work every day so we could catch up and have a little time together on the nights he had plans with ‘the guys.’ Guys nights were not really much of a problem. I had a 10 o’clock curfew during the week and Ronnie always made sure I was home on time. He wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be grounded during his last summer home.
There were a few times he dropped me off straight from work on a guys night but I made him linger at my front door. Some nights I just had a hard time letting go. Every minute with him was golden. I knew how much he needed to see his friends but they would have him for the whole night. I just wanted a few minutes more. “Okay, one more kiss. Then I really have to go.” Before we realized it was 10 more minutes and then one of my parents would open the front door. “Curfew was 15 minutes ago young lady.” I didn’t see what the harm was, after all I was home. On Friday and Saturday nights my curfew was extended to 11 p.m. but for some reason as the time came closer to Ronnie’s departure to the Army, my parents decided 10 p.m. was late enough. Maybe they thought we would run off and elope.
Ronnie was always ready to pick me up and take me out day or night. No matter where we went Ronnie made sure he was holding my hand or holding me in his arms. If we were at Players and I danced, he was right there on the dance floor with me, be it a fast song or a slow dance. I tried not to dance too much as I knew he had problems with his knees from past soccer injuries. I was happy just sitting next to him holding hands. We usually only kissed when we were alone together but as his departure to the Army grew closer he was a bit more into public displays of affections. Ronnie suddenly started a new brave trend for us…kissing during the slow dances. Then there was the sweet short kisses as my guy pals came over and just before they left our table. Ok, maybe it was a bit over the top in regards to ‘she’s my girl’ …but I was so loving it. My love for him was so great that I stopped caring if anyone else saw just how much.
If we went to a party he held my hand and made sure never he never left my side. He made sure the guys kept their language clean around me and no of them got to close to me either. There was one incident where a girl, who graduated from my high school, said something not so nice to me. Everyone knew she had a huge crush on him. She couldn’t understand why he would pick some little bit of a girl like me over her. He told her flat out to back off or we would leave. She never said a mean thing to me again.
Everything that was happening was setting the stage for when he was away. He wanted to make sure when he came home I would be there. This assured me that he would not only come home but he would be coming back for me.
In preparation of his departure in to the Army, Ronnie decided that I should learn to drive his car. “ I want to make sure my car still works when I come back home. I wont trust just anyone with it. Just ask Jim and Matt if I have ever let them drive my car. My Mom wont go near it and it is too powerful for Gina.” I knew how to drive but his car had a pretty powerful engine. He wanted to make sure his car was driven a few times while he was away so he entrusted that task to me. This made me so happy. I was afraid of how powerful his car was but I just had to do this.
When I climbed into the drivers seat Ronnie had me adjust the mirrors and the seat. Poor Ronnie, his front seat was a bench so we had to work together to get the seat up far enough for my little feet to reach the pedals. In the process I banged his knees into the dash. I told him how sorry I was, gave him a few kisses and all was better.
Next I adjusted the dash lights. When Ronnie saw me touch dash light button he yelled “No! Don’t touch that one!” He explained that it really didn’t work. Then he looked at the dash and it was all lit up like it should be, even the radio dial. He was impressed.
I was so nervous that I forgot myself as I pressed down the gas petal in his driveway. I pushed it too far to fast and made tire marks on his parents driveway! I was mortified! The look on his face as he saw the tire marks behind us….well, he didn’t look pleased at all. Then he saw the expression of horror on my face and..he Laughed! “You might want to take it a little easy. Remember, this is a man’s car. Not your little car.”
We drove down the street and around his town a bit. When Ronnie was confident my driving ability he relaxed. Maybe a bit more than he should have. At first he stretched out stating that he has never been a passenger in his own car before. While waiting at a red light he decided to take the opportunity to tickle and kiss me. I lightly pushed him away, turned my nose up in an air of sophistication and half jokingly said “Stop right there Mr. You are distracting the driver. You don’t want me to wreck my fiancé’s car.”
As we drove up to the McDonalds on the golden mile we saw Ronnie’s friends in the parking lot. The amazed looks on their faces as they saw me in the drivers seat assured me that Ronnie had never let anyone drive his car. Ronnie waved from the passenger side and his friends ran up as I parked the car. He was hungry so we walked towards the McDonalds.
I jumped out of the car so fast that I forgot my purse. When I ran back to get it. I was so excited about his friends seeing me drive his car… I forgot about the rule of not using the passenger door. Opps. Oh well, I shut it and from then on it shut right. That was a fluke right? Ronnie and I decided to keep using just the driver’s side door just incase. The next night he jokingly said “My Dad is thinking of letting you drive his car. It has an oil leak. Maybe after you drive it…ya know, the oil leak will be fixed by your magical touch.” Apparently, he told his parents about the dash lights and passenger door.
Since our time was growing short Ronnie wanted to make sure we spent as much time together as possible. We even started going to church together. Sunday mornings, bright and early Ronnie would pick me up and take me to his church where we would meet up with the rest of his family. “Wow. You’re all dressed up. We’re just going to church.” In my family we always dressed for church. It didn’t occur to me that some, actually many, did not. Really, God doesn’t care what you wear as long as you keep the faith and show up. Still, it surprised me greatly when a men’s soccer team filed in to the pew in front of us. How did I know they were on a soccer team? Well, they were wearing their uniforms and from their muddy appearance they had just finished a game.
Ronnie actually started making real plans for when he came home from basic training. He talked with the local recruiter, Sergeant William (Bill) Powell, about how he could go from basic training to a recruiter aide here at home. They had talked a few times about delaying Ronnie’s enlistment or avoiding it all together because he didn’t want to leave me behind. Once Sergeant Powell assured him of the possibilities of being stationed in Frederick after Basic Training, Ronnie started house hunting. There were a few new townhouse developments going up and Ronnie took me on a few house tours. He described what we would be doing in every room of the house. He rated each house based on if he could picture me running to him as soon as he opened the front door. A few of them had three or four steps down from the main floor to the front door. “I don’t want you to trip on your way to me, just falling into my arms would be great.”