an amazing surprise

On Monday morning, I woke up at 6:45 to go for a run with S. We’ve been getting up to beat the heat, have girl time and gain extra energy for the day. A. sent me an email asking me if I was going out to run, and I said yes and didn’t think much of it.

I moved slowly — I was extra tired. I had a bowl of Special K, put on my workout clothes, filled my water bottle and walked out onto the porch, but there was a chill in the air. So I left the front door open a crack and ran back up the stairs for a long-sleeved shirt. When I came back down, A. was walking through the front door. I stood on the landing and looked at him, shoulders hunched, shocked and thinking I was seeing an apparition.

I was supposed to pick up A. Wednesday morning at Dulles. His flight was supposed to arrive at 6:10 a.m. I had reserved a Zipcar, asked for the morning off and even picked out the outfit I’d wear. I imagined us running to each other and people taking pictures and clapping while we cried tears of joy (I’m not dramatic).

But here he was, standing in my doorway in a tee-shirt and jeans, holding his REI backpack and a carry-on. “What are you doing here?” I said, before grabbing him and kissing him multiple times. I was so surprised, I wasn’t even emotional. We stood at the bottom of the stairs and held each other before I said: “Well, drop off your bags! S. is on the way. Let’s go meet her.”

A. and I walked up 18th St., holding hands. S. lives at the top of Adams Morgan, I live at the bottom, so we usually meet somewhere along the way — often halfway. This time, we were much closer to my house when we saw her come down the road. She cocked her head for a moment, trying to process who I was with, but when she realized it was A., she ran down the street and jumped into his arms. “That’s the reaction I was looking for from Erin!” A. laughed. I laughed, too. I was too taken by surprise to react so immediately.

A. said that for him, the last two days of being apart are the hardest. So he wanted to spare me that. And this way, I didn’t have to get up at 5:15 a.m. to get to the airport and wait for him. So he doctored the reservation he sent me. He was always arriving on Monday, I just didn’t know that (and neither did anyone else). What a romantic.

I called into work and we spent the morning together. We walked up to Tryst for breakfast. That evening, he made me dinner — baked Mahi-Mahi, potatoes, green beans and red pepper — and we watched “Bachelorette” with my roommate. It felt like he had left for Afghanistan yesterday — not seven months ago. He said the same — that while the days dragged by when he was gone, now it seems like time flew by. Everything just feels so right with him back. And I’m over the moon.


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