The Blues are the superior uniform of the Marine Corps. They call the jacket a blouse, and it is navy blue, so dark it looks black. I would rub the heavy, soft wool against my naked arms and watch the bumps rise. The blouse was trimmed in scarlet, and there were gold buttons straight up the front, three on each arm, and one on each shoulder. The collar had an Eagle Globe and Anchor, or EGA, shining gold on each side.
My marine was decorated with multiple ribbons on one side and clinking medals on the other. On his upper-arms, he wore his rank, scarlet and gold, proudly displaying his non-commissioned officer status as a corporal. There was a white belt that clasped with a gold buckle, showing his trim waist. The pants were royal blue and after a certain amount of time in, he earned his blood stripe, which is a sewn red line from hip to ankle on the outside of both legs. His black patent leather shoes looked liquid and whispered when he stepped, and the wide, metal-framed white hat, or cover, sat low over his brown eyes, and complimented his full lips.
I wore a form-fitting long, black velvet dress with matching sling back heels. I walked out of the hotel room and Roger grinned with his eyes as he looked at me. My hair was long, down my back in loose, glossy curls that felt soft on my bare skin. We were ready for the Marine Corps. Ball.
People were doing shots of Jägermeister, and their laughter invited the green odor to dance around the ballroom. There was a ceremony, then dinner of roast beef with gravy, and always mashed potatoes, no lumps. After we rested our full bellies, we ate a piece of the massive white cake with sticky red trim that was not known for its flavor.
My family and I were sitting at the table sipping vodka, straightening collars, and replacing lip gloss, when I started to wonder where Roger was. After a minute, I heard his voice echoing loudly over the hundreds of people partying. “May I have your attention please?” I thought he was talking to a friend, but he was at the podium at the front of the room, hands controlled in front of his waist, head slightly tilted, and the microphone receiving his question.
“Teresa will you come up here?” Oh, gosh. I saw his slight, nervous smile.
There were hundreds of people, including my family and many friends, all dressed in their sparkly gowns, Dress Blues, and suits saved for weddings and funerals. The lights had dimmed since dinner, and there was no music. I stood and made my way towards him. There was flat, crimson ballroom carpeting, dark with golden swirls, and many chairs in my way as I lifted my feet higher than normal as to not trip.
Bright camera flashes gave me a white tunnel directly to him, and I felt people’s eyes on me. The path gave me time to wonder and hope. It invited me to remember flashes of our talks.
“We could just get married now,” he said months before. His tone teased but his eyes wondered.
“Now?” I replied. We had a private moment to talk after taking Tyler, who was three to Casper the movie.
“Or we can wait,” he said.
“No, no, no, I can’t live away from you any longer,” I said.
I brought myself back to the present and continued my walk up to the podium, my hands were damp. My skin pricked and butterflies were crawling up my throat. My legs wobbled until I found his face. His smile was wide and warm, probably happy I didn’t run out of the room. I forgot about the other people. In his eyes, I found safety and adoration, and I finally noticed that he was shaking when he held my hand.
“Will you marry me?”
“Yes,” so only he could hear me. “Yes.” I felt my face stretch as he put the ring on my finger.
“What did she say!!??”
“She said yes! Wooohoooo!” The room shook with cheering and clapping, and he raised his hand that wasn’t holding mine in celebration.
The marines were roaring with shouts of “Oorah!”
We showed off with a long, respectable kiss. The band played our song, “I Swear.”
He wore those same Dress Blues one month later at our December wedding in the snow. I rented my dress for $80 and wore my plaid sneakers to tease him. He didn’t know until we were officially married. The gazebo in Easthampton, Mass. was surrounded by Christmas lights and sweet, undying love.