When Nick was debating whether or not he should stay in the Navy, someone told him that in military life, the lows are lower than in civilian life… but the highs are higher. And this port call was the highest high I’ve ever had.
In the months leading up to deployment, Nick and I talked a lot about whether or not I should come on a port call. I had never visited Nick on a port call before. We decided against it for a lot of reasons. I was even going to write a blog post about why I wasn’t planning to go.
Port calls constantly change because the boat schedule always changes. You could end up buying and changing and canceling flights because the schedule changes that much. Port calls are also expensive because you book things at the last minute. Nick thought that he wouldn’t be able to enjoy himself because he would be stressed out during deployment, or that he would be too busy to even spend much time with me since they are still working. So, we figured we would save the money for a time when we could really enjoy each other, our trip to New Zealand and Australia when he gets back.
But things change. Never say never, especially when you are a military spouse.
The weeks leading up to deployment were hard and stressful. It was so hard to say goodbye. When Nick got to Guam, he asked me to come. I wasn’t surprised that his thoughts on port calls changed once he was on a 6-month deployment because I felt the same way.
One of my biggest concerns about port calls was how much they cost. We decided that I would try to Space A to Guam. Space A is a program where the Air Force allows military personnel and their dependents to get on military planes for free. If a plane is already going somewhere and they have extra space, they will let you on. Flights from Hawaii to Guam are about $2500, so we both agreed that the only way I would come is if I could Space A.
In a matter of minutes, I went from thinking I wouldn’t see Nick until he comes home from deployment to researching how to get to Guam.
I was still worried about the entire thing. All of the logical reasons for me not to go on the port call were still there. But sometimes, you have to throw caution to the wind.
My friend Chloe reminded me that you have to live and that you can’t take money with you. My mom told me that she thought it was important to see my husband no matter what it cost. And everyone who had ever visited their husband on a port call told me it was 100% worth it.
I lucked out and got on the first Space A flight that I tried for (I am going to write an entire blog post about the process soon). The flights are unpredictable and I didn’t know if I was going to get on the flight until about 2 hours before it took off. When I found out I was getting on, I texted Nick. 9 hours later, he picked me up at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
We took this picture soon after.
We stayed in an Airbnb in Tumon, the downtown touristy area, for a week. I was only planning to stay for a week and then try to take the next flight out.
About a week into my trip, I woke up and saw that a Space A flight became available for that day. I told Nick that I thought I should take it. But after a few minutes, we realized that neither of us was ready for me to leave. So we ended up going to the Navy Lodge on base, and I stayed for another whole week.
I loved that I didn’t know when I was leaving because I felt like it made be more in the moment.
I still can’t believe that I got to see Nick on deployment. I thought that he would be too stressed out to enjoy himself, but it turned out to be the total opposite. After months of being underwater, he was ready to relax and let loose. He still had to work but at night and on the weekends we had a blast. It felt like a dream. We ate tons of food, drove all over the island, relaxed on the beach, went hiking, went snorkeling, and went to the world’s largest KMart.
There are so many things about Nick’s life that I am not a part of. I’m not allowed to know what he does all day or where he goes on deployment. But on this port call, I felt like I got a little glimpse into his world.
Nick has been to Guam more times than I can remember so he got to take me to all of the places that he loved, all of the places that I had heard stories about. I got to hear stories about what’s been going on on deployment. We got to catch up on life. It was an incredible experience that I didn’t know I needed. Nick and I basically got to put deployment on pause.
I have never said this about a trip before, but this experience was life-changing for me.
I think – and hope – that this trip changed me for the better. Never before would I have considered going on vacation with a one-way ticket, not knowing when or how I was getting home. I learned what it means to let go of your fears and truly be present for a moment.
One of the things I love about military life is how exciting it can be. Plans constantly change and you never know what’s around the corner. You may think you know, but you never really know until it actually happens. To be fair, this can lead to disasters and can be really stressful. But sometimes, it leads to amazing experiences.
This experience also made me so thankful for Nick being in the military. Deployments can make me salty, but I was reminded again that this life has given us so many opportunities and experiences that we would never have had otherwise. I would never have gone to Guam (and for free, too!). I would never have gotten the chance to live in Hawaii. I would never have the thrill and excitement of visiting my husband on a port call.
And I got to go to Guam, a place I never ever thought I would get to go. It was the hottest and most humid place I’ve ever been to, and it was very different from what I expected. Despite there not being much to do, the food was incredible, the beaches were beautiful, the water was crystal clear and so warm, and there is so much important history there. I plan to write more about Guam soon too!
The entire trip, I kept thinking about the poem that I named my blog after, Ithaka. It’s all about enjoying the journey, experiencing new places, and learning everything you can along the way. There is nothing better.