About five years ago I took the train from NYC’s Grand Central Station to Garrison, NY on MetroNorth for the first time. Little did I know that the trip would become a regular occurrence over the next few years.
I dated James throughout his time at West Point, from plebe (freshman) year through graduation. While we did not qualify for the 2% that make it from high school through graduation, we were pretty darn close having met in October of his first year. How to get in: My husband was prior service, meaning he enlisted before applying to and starting at West Point. The majority of cadets (students) are recent high school graduates who go through an application and nomination process through their local Congressman or Senator. Some are nominated by members of the Department of Defense. My husband was urged to apply through his chain of command. There are few slots for Soldiers but my hubby got one! I’m quite glad that he did because otherwise we may have never met.
Can I visit? Yes and No. Something that I had to get used to pretty quickly was that he wasn’t allowed to leave. And I wasn’t allowed to stay. In college I frequently visited my best friends around the Northeast and crashed on their floor, but at West Point, guests are not allowed in the barracks. I can probably count the number of times I went in on one hand…ok maybe two, but it’s a rare occasion, mainly just to get ready before a class event aka ball. And you definitely can’t stay the night, unless you get a hotel nearby. That meant a lot of day trips for me, fortunately I lived close enough to do that fairly frequently. Cadets are limited in the number of passes they get, ranging from single digits their first year to pretty much unlimited their Firstie, or Senior year. We averaged seeing each other once a month when we first started dating but by the time we were engaged it was nearly every week (James having a car didn’t hurt that either).
SO BUSY! I also got used to rare phone calls. Ok, maybe not that rare, I was an annoying girlfriend (totally true), but cadets have tons of things to do: class, sports, leadership activities and homework. It’s a lot. So not hearing from James until late at night became frequent. Honestly I think it prepared me for deployment in a way, I got used to him being busy and only talking for 5 minutes if at all, even if I was a pain in the butt at the time. (Seriously I was a pain in the butt however James still wanted to marry me, thanks sweetheart!)
He owns 3 shirts. Cadets have multiple uniforms: ACUs (the normal Army uniform), another one for class, India Whites, and 2 Grey uniforms (with a white shirt for spring/summer, one is more formal than the other). The grey ones are pretty ugly. I’m just going to say it. The winter grey uniform is awful. There is this awkward line down the middle. And the poor girls. That does NOTHING for them. I mean seriously they added darts to a man shirt. I know it’s tradition. They’ve had the same uniform FOREVER, but sometimes a change can be good. Not until Firstie year can they leave in more than their uniform or khakis with an Army polo. I really think James had about 3-5 shirts and 2 pairs of pants that weren’t for uniform. But when you don’t need to wear civilian clothes, why bother?
It is beautiful. I mean this view. It’s just gorgeous in the Hudson Valley. Sure it gets grey in the winter but still gorgeous! (I’m partial though, we did get married just south of West Point.)
No hand holding. Expect to stroll arm in arm. Sit across from each other, not on the same bench. No kissing. Very short hugs. The no PDA rules are universal (I think? someone correct me if I am wrong) in the Armed Forces for when the service member is in uniform. There are definitely places to sneak off to get a quick kiss, but just expect to hang out and laugh and just wish you could hold that hand.
Those were the major things for sure. I love the campus and area, so much that I hope we get stationed there one day! The long distance was tough but it really made our time together more special. And I maybe got a bit too good at doing those Army cheers during football games…which usually ended in defeat. (I think 2013 is the year—BEAT NAVY!) While there were some aspects that made it not the ideal dating situation (long days of travel since I couldn’t crash on the couch for instance), it worked out, and it does make for some great stories.
What was your dating experience like? Any other long-distance daters out there? Anyone else love West Point as much as I do?