Goodbye, Marine Corps

19 May 2013, DePauw University. Amanda’s Graduation.

19 May 2013, DePauw University. Amanda’s Graduation.

I cried a lot today.

I wasn’t expecting it. Today is Friday, which is typically the only day that Ries and I are home together while his mom is watching Gus, and for some reason, today we decided to tackle about three projects I hadn’t planned to attempt in the same day.

For those of you who don’t know, Ries officially separated from the Marine Corps 30 November, 2018. His active duty service ended 30 December 2015, but all enlistments are eight years long, the amount of time active duty varying, and inactive ready reserves makes up the rest of that enlistment. It’s not being in the reserves, where you have to go to meetings and pass fitness tests, but if the country was desperate for more military members, they could have called Ries back  in. That is until this November.

I’m pretty open about my dislike for the Marine Corps. We found out Ries was being deployed less than a week after getting engaged. We got married two months later, spent the first four months as newlyweds traveling all over the country for deployment training, rushing to meet important family members, signing power of attorney and will paperwork. That’s not something you want to do as newlyweds. The second half of our first year of marriage was spent on opposite sides of the world—literally—there was a twelve hour time difference—and fighting through toxic and traumatic encounters with people who should have been on our side.

When Ries got back from Afghanistan, things didn’t get any better. Ries sustained a neck injury while deployed and was ridiculed and tormented by his command for being incapable of completing physical exercises, despite a military doctor diagnosing him with several conditions that would be exacerbated by most physical activity, and if exacerbated, would require surgery.

I had to stand by and watch for two years, unable to do anything to protect or defend the person I love most in the world, because when you join the military, you give up your constitutional rights, and because he was in the military, it didn’t matter that he was my husband. He belonged to them. He was their property.

As you can imagine, that left a pretty nasty taste in my mouth. And yet, despite being “done” for the past three years, we had to drag around two massive storage totes packed full of uniforms, because you have to hold on to them. Just. In. Case. For years I had imagined building a giant-ass bonfire and burning the motherfuckers while running circles around the flames and screaming jubilantly like a crazy woman. (That’s not allowed of course.)

Since we moved to Indiana, we’ve been storing these tubs at my parents’ house, and we picked them up in mid-December so we could finally take them to a location that rips the name off used uniforms and gives them to active duty families who need them. Because our apartment is so teeny, they’ve been in the car until today, taking up all my trunk space, feeling like Dickensian penance chains. We finally got both of them out of the car this week, and once everything else was done today, we opened them up.

I think I was okay until I saw Murphy embroidered onto his cammie blouse, and after that, I was openly sobbing. (Woof, it’s happening again.) I realized I was never going to see him wear those cammies, after years of seeing him wear them every day. I realized just how big a part the Marine Corps played in our lives—for those of you who don’t know, I wrote Ries letters when he went to boot camp in 2011, and that’s kind of where this whole (romantic) journey started, even though we never expected to be anymore than friends.

We became best friends in the Marine Corps. We fell in love in the Marine Corps. We got engaged in the Marine Corps. We got our first apartment in the Marine Corps. We got married in the Marine Corps. We fought tooth and nail to stay together our first year of marriage (it was a real fight against outside forces) in the Marine Corps. We had a wedding in the Marine Corps. We went to Disney World (my first time) in the Marine Corps. We got our first cat in the Marine Corps. We applied for MFA programs in the Marine Corps. Our first car was totaled in the Marine Corps. We went to balls in the Marine Corps. We made friends that were more like family in the Marine Corps. We grew up in the Marine Corps. And then we left the Marine Corps. Together.

I am so glad it’s over. We’re never doing that again. But man, I am grateful for the things that we gained during that time. So to honor that sentiment, I wanted to share photos of Ries and I from that time in our life.

(This is also proof to our friends now who don’t quite believe that there was once an era of our lives when Ries woke up at 5:00am, shaved every day, got a medium fade once a week, ran much faster than me, was the best MCMAP-er, (Don’t fuck with us, he’s trained to killlll. And not just with his good looks.) worked out twice a day, always had the best looking uniform, and said “Sir” more times than is healthy for anyone. Oh and he had a sword for our wedding.)

Semper Fi, Sergeant Murphy.

April 2012, Fort Gordon. One of the only selfies Ries Murphy had ever taken. And DAYUM. You bet I had this saved on my iPhone 4.

April 2012, Fort Gordon. One of the only selfies Ries Murphy had ever taken. And DAYUM. You bet I had this saved on my iPhone 4.

18 May 2013, Greencastle, Indiana. Our first time at a bar together for DePauw Under the Stars. Most of my friends thought I had gone crazy and that Ries was my imaginary boyfriend at this point, so most had literal dropped jaws. It was awesome.

18 May 2013, Greencastle, Indiana. Our first time at a bar together for DePauw Under the Stars. Most of my friends thought I had gone crazy and that Ries was my imaginary boyfriend at this point, so most had literal dropped jaws. It was awesome.

19 May 2013, DePauw University. Amanda’s Graduation.

19 May 2013, DePauw University. Amanda’s Graduation.

May 2013, Greencastle, Indiana. This was my bedside table before I moved down to Georgia. It was filled with things that reminded me of Ries—his watch, his portrait, and some of his favorite books.

May 2013, Greencastle, Indiana. This was my bedside table before I moved down to Georgia. It was filled with things that reminded me of Ries—his watch, his portrait, and some of his favorite books.

15 June 2013, Ries’ barracks. An early visit to Ries, waiting for him to get done with work. Also playing my first video game ever—Journey.

15 June 2013, Ries’ barracks. An early visit to Ries, waiting for him to get done with work. Also playing my first video game ever—Journey.

26 July 2013, Columbia County Courthouse. Saying our vows.

26 July 2013, Columbia County Courthouse. Saying our vows.

26 July 2013, Columbia County Courthouse. A photo from our legal marriage. We got married with four other couples and one of them let everyone borrow her flowers. Not glamorous, but we were so happy.

26 July 2013, Columbia County Courthouse. A photo from our legal marriage. We got married with four other couples and one of them let everyone borrow her flowers. Not glamorous, but we were so happy.

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November 2013, Augusta, Georgia. Our first Marine Corps Ball.

November 2013, Augusta, Georgia. Our first Marine Corps Ball.

November 2013, Augusta, Georgia. Our first Marine Corps Ball.

November 2013, Augusta, Georgia. Our first Marine Corps Ball.

3 December 2013, BWI airport. Waiting in line to check his bags and guns through security for his deployment. That was a terrible day.

3 December 2013, BWI airport. Waiting in line to check his bags and guns through security for his deployment. That was a terrible day.

20 February 2014, Afghanistan. One of our many Skype calls from Afghanistan to Augusta, Georgia.

20 February 2014, Afghanistan. One of our many Skype calls from Afghanistan to Augusta, Georgia.

6 March 2014, BWI airport. Our first time seeing each other after the deployment.

6 March 2014, BWI airport. Our first time seeing each other after the deployment.

6 March 2014, BWI Airport. We can stop worrying about IDF. Finally.

6 March 2014, BWI Airport. We can stop worrying about IDF. Finally.

March 2014, Fort Gordon. First day back on base.

March 2014, Fort Gordon. First day back on base.

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2 June 2014, Fort Gordon. Ries after being promoted to Corporal Murphy.

2 June 2014, Fort Gordon. Ries after being promoted to Corporal Murphy.

15 August 2014, The Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Our wedding was pretty much a fairytale.

15 August 2014, The Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Our wedding was pretty much a fairytale.

15 August 2014, The Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Our wedding was pretty much a fairytale.

15 August 2014, The Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Our wedding was pretty much a fairytale.

15 August 2014, The Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Our wedding was pretty much a fairytale.

15 August 2014, The Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Our wedding was pretty much a fairytale.

15 August 2014, The Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Our wedding was pretty much a fairytale.

15 August 2014, The Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Our wedding was pretty much a fairytale.

The reality of married life—I was in such disbelief he was home I had to keep taking photos to remind me it was real.

The reality of married life—I was in such disbelief he was home I had to keep taking photos to remind me it was real.

4 September 2014, Eisenhower Hospital. This was a 4:00am trip to the ER. For an injury Ries’ superiors refused to acknowledge. After he almost passed out and nearly crushed me.

4 September 2014, Eisenhower Hospital. This was a 4:00am trip to the ER. For an injury Ries’ superiors refused to acknowledge. After he almost passed out and nearly crushed me.

September 2014, Augusta, Georgia. Mandatory family day. Yes, mandatory. The nerd-dom was strong with these ones.

September 2014, Augusta, Georgia. Mandatory family day. Yes, mandatory. The nerd-dom was strong with these ones.

November 2014, Augusta, Georgia. Our second Marine Corps Ball.

November 2014, Augusta, Georgia. Our second Marine Corps Ball.

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31 December 2014, Huddle House, Fort Gordon. New Years Eve when Ries was on swings.

31 December 2014, Huddle House, Fort Gordon. New Years Eve when Ries was on swings.

January 2015, Augusta. Ries and Hiro.

January 2015, Augusta. Ries and Hiro.

There’s a bit of a time gap here, so I apologize, but I’m digging through old photos on an external hard drive for these gems, and it takes FOR.EV.ER.

30 December 2015, The Villages, Florida. Ries’ last day in the Marine Corps.

30 December 2015, The Villages, Florida. Ries’ last day in the Marine Corps.