“At Last” by Lyanne Garcia

I still cannot believe it.
Week 9 of school and there I was, hanging out in Kansas.
I was greeted with sheets of white and cold bursts of wind.
It definitely cannot compare to sunny Santa Barbara, but that doesn’t matter.
I remember seeing the gate, the one I have many times passed before with him.
This time, I was driving through it alone.
I remember smiling as I sped up, after passing through the gate; there was nothing to be nervous about anymore.
Instead, I was nervous about finally seeing him.
I started my senior year one week after he had left the states.
It was already a difficult school year to begin with, and staring worry in the eye every day just made the days that much longer.
I hardly heard from him and those few times that I did, I was grateful that the time difference knew the gaps between my classes.
I entered the building and sat among people who were also welcoming home their soldiers.
After two hours of sitting, at last the buses arrived.
One after the other, the soldiers entered the building, their faces stern.
You could totally see their excitement beaming, though.
The moment he entered, I felt my heart light up.
After months and months of counting down, this day had finally come.
They all stood in formation.
I saw his eyes scan back and forth.
“I’m over here,” I thought to myself, hoping he’d hear somehow.
Not once had I unlocked my sight from him.
As soon as they were dismissed, I ran down the bleachers, eyes still locked on him.

Lyanne Garcia is a military spouse. During her entire experience as an undergraduate at UCSB, she was both a full-time student and a full-time partner to a U.S. Army soldier. She graduated in the spring of 2013 with a degree in History of Public Policy.