Pearls…

This blog is about one of the most important things in my life. In ’04 I made a decision to change my life. I had enough with myself and I walked into the recruiting station hell-bent on joining the Army. Any job would do and the sooner the better. I wasn’t running from problems, I was running for a future I knew I wanted. Fast forwarding through training, Airborne School and the first deployment to Iraq…
Amongst the cooler stories of being deployed to a combat zone, we found peculiar ways to occupy our time when we could. We didn’t quite have the satellite hookup as we did on my second deployment so we had to deal with thirty minute allowances on the computers to e-mail or whatever. MySpace was just coming to life and social media was about to break-out.
I’m not too ashamed to admit that I spent some time meeting some girls online that I had hopes of meeting when I got back to the states. I even found my basic training buddy’s sister online which evolved into quite a welcome home party when I got back… And then there was Ashley. She lived about an hour or so away from where we were supposed to be stationed when we got back… So the story goes…
The group of guys I was deployed with didn’t get a typical ‘R&R’ period for leave since we were technically there for less than a year. Instead we got to take a four-day pass to Qatar. Pretty cool little peninsula country off Saudi Arabia. One of the richest countries in the world they say. I went with Pedro. He was an eclectic Puerto-Rican guy with an undying love for girls and gold. One of the best guys I’ve ever met in the military and it’s a shame we lost touch. We hooked up with a liaison who worked on base yet had privileges to go out into town. We went Ice-Skating, shopping, touring and ate at some pretty cool places. Late night me and Pedro found ourselves in the Gold Souks deep within downtown Doha. One of the first shops was a dirty little shop with more gold and pearls in it than I had ever seen in my life at one time. Pedro loved gold and wanted to buy his girlfriend (but more so himself) all the gold jewelry he could afford. As he was unsuccessfully negotiating a cash price for a handful of gold rings and necklaces, I picked up a strand of pearls. Black, white and pink all in one necklace. It was the coolest thing I’d seen thus far as far as jewelry is concerned. It was something like $600. I politely pushed it back and tried to help Pedro from losing his ass on the deal. The guy noticed my interest in the pearls and came down in price a few times. $500…$400…$300… I wasn’t biting. With a few sly placements of the pearls in my hands, he asked for an offer. Pedro said ‘Get them for the girl you’re going to meet when we get back to the states’…I said $150… He cocked his head in disagreement and I set them back on the counter. While he went to grab them and put them away he offered $180. Sold.
These events happened in mid-2005. Upon returning home and never meeting Ashley a whirlwind of events took over my life including one more deployment. I still had the pearls from the trip to Qatar and I wasn’t quite ready to let them go… I met a girl who lived a few hours away. It was the first relationship I tried to make happen since screwing up a few before that while I was getting ready to deploy. This girl I met was graduating from college and I felt like I needed to offer her something…. I let her wear the pearls for graduation without ever forgetting that they were not in fact hers. Drama, drama drama… we broke up. She refused to give the pearls back. I didn’t care what she took, but I couldn’t let her keep those. After threatening to tell her family about her days as a stripper she succumbed to my request. Pearls in hand I went on my way…
Years later… I got out of the military, opened a restaurant, sold it, drove trucks, climbed trees, traveled around the US and Ireland (again) and ended up in flight school….
I never stayed out of touch with Ashley. We would play scrabble on a daily basis and occasionally write each other on Facebook or Twitter. She was a part of my life that I will never forget and I felt like I owed her something. My last year of flight school I decided it was time to go see her for the first time. I had some extra cash saved up and a little bit of time to kill. Off to Tennessee I would go… Seven years late…
Some more years later and broken plans about meeting her prior made for awkward expectations for sure. I didn’t care. I had seen plenty of pictures and conversed enough with her to not be nervous that I would be meeting some sixty year old poser wanting a piece of mid-thirties guy’s ass. When I saw her for the first time with my own two eyes, she was quite possibly one of the most beautiful girls I had ever met. The social constructs kept me familiarly awkward, but inside I was in awe. ‘Why did I not do this sooner?’ We spent a good portion of her free weekend exploring the finer aspects of eastern Tennessee while she wasn’t at work.
The last day I was there I asked her to go to lunch one last time before flying out. We sat at Panera Bread and I awkwardly told her that I had something for her. I had been saving it all this time and I felt it was time to let it go. I told her the story of how I got them and pulled out the string of pearls and set them in her hand. Though I noticed the shaking of her hands, I still can’t quite put a finger on what her reaction really was. Surpise? Awe? Fear? Who knows…
After an awkward second trip to see her, I knew that I was either too late for anything to come of it, or we simply didn’t click like the story books would like. I was ok with that after stumbling through my persistence to get one more date with her. She will always be someone special to me and should never second guess the sheer beauty she exudes.
The twist to all of this… that night in Qatar… I bought a second set of pearls. For someone with a name otherwise unknown…

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One comment on “Pearls…

  1. And hopefully the second set goes to someone who will appreciate them, and you. I really enjoyed that story- and a big thank you for your service 🙂

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