Nuevo Laredo was dirty, noisy, crowded, smelly, exciting and fun. I loved how we had to bargain for everything we bought, and buy we did – all kinds of thick Mexican sweaters and household decorations that “everybody” in the Navy ended up buying. If you didn’t have a miniature suit of armor standing in your living room you weren’t with the program. A couple of years later we looked at it all and asked, why did we buy those horrible things? But at the time we wanted to be like everybody else and bargaining was addictive.
Corpus Christi, on the other hand, was just plain gorgeous. The homes along the gulf were breathtaking but only a few short years later would all be washed away by a hurricane. The homeowners always rebuild after every storm. I can almost understand why because the views are stunning. Padre Island turned out to be one long beach and we all baked in the sun, impervious to the hazards of too much of a good thing, and never thought we would ever wrinkle when we got old. Who got old anyway? We were going to be young forever. Being old was for our parents who had always been ancient. So we tanned to a dark brown and let the sun bleach our hair and knew we would never pay the price later.
Wives stuck together when the guys went out on cross countries and out in the Gulf. We comforted them when they needed it, but by then we were used to their false bravado and went along with it. None of us fully appreciated what they were going through and the hard work they were putting in. The guys wanted it to seem easy and maybe to some it was. As for Rob, by this time he was as self-assured as any of them. As I said before, he never failed at anything he did and I had total confidence that he would succeed.
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