Homecoming. That date written in your diary then crossed out and written again a few days later because it got put back at some point over the last six or seven months.
Homecoming. The one day of your year where you experience ALL The emotional states known to mankind within a 24 hours period.
Homecoming, where you don’t know if your going to throw up, cry, shit yourself or have some weird pseudo orgasm.
Yep, it’s a tricky day alright. But I’d argue that for me, at least, homecoming starts about 2 days before I’m standing dockside listening to that bloody brass band.
H Minus 48 hours.
I am buffed, waxed, trimmed, polished to within an inch of my life, upon completion of this almost ritualistic Navy Wife MOT I return home feeling, sexy, glamorous and fresh. A little bit like Beyoncé crossed with Mary Poppins.
Sitting down on the sofa I nervously check my emails, again, and again. (No, none from Popeye in the last five minutes Olive!)Time to put another squeaky, high pitched, excited Facebook status up!
That done, a strange bubbling feeling begins to fizzle in my middle, my foot starts twitching, I jump up, walk to the kitchen and notice some washing up on the side. (At this point it has become a tradition in the Oyl household for me to listen to this song on repeat, very loudly.)
The cleaning binge begins.
Washing up leads to cleaning the sink, leads to cleaning the kitchen, leads to mopping the floor, leads to hoovering downstairs, which goes onto hoovering upstairs, that leads to dusting upstairs (the whole time my heart is thumping with adrenaline and I’m so wired I go to the loo for a wee like a zillion times).
After dusting, with sweat dripping down my freshly exfoliated face, things start to get really weird. These are all true things I have done two days before The Big H.
Cleaned ALL the windows. Inside and out.
De frosted the freezer, then cleaned the kitchen again because I’ve got melted ice water everywhere.
Washed, dried, and styled the dog.
Re cleaned the whole house as it smells of wet dog.
Pulled out the cooker (dangerous) and cleaned underneath and behind it.
Tidied the inside of all the cupboards in the house.
Arranged all the DVDs alphabetically and by genre.
By now it is about 3am and my neighbours are about to complain. So I usually go to bed, cursing my now ruined manicure, blocked pores and bruised knees and wondering how long a burn from bleach takes to heal and can I cover it up with Max Factor…
H minus 24 hours. (think the Jack Bower countdown noise on 24, the TV show, click here!).
It’s time to get practical, I fill the car with petrol, check the tyre pressure, and start to tell everyone I see that Popeye is coming home.
My neighbours, the petrol station man, the check out girl, anyone I see on the dog walk, birds in the trees, inanimate objects…
At some point I do the all important food shop, buying Popeye a new toothbrush fills me with a level of excitement that is hard to contain. I buy all his favourite things and a bottle of champagne too.
I’m just too excited! When I get home, I pace, I jiggle, I tidy and re-tidy.
I get out my “homecoming outfit” and lay it out on the bed, I try it on, I freak out that it looks awful. I try on something else, freak out about that. Try on original outfit and get deodorant marks on it. Burst into tears and call my sister who calms me down and tells me to take off the clothes, put on the pyjamas and get some sleep. Sleep? Pah! The idea of sleeping verges on the ridiculous, as I verge on hysterical. I get maybe two hours then I am AWAKE!
ITS HERE ITS HERE HOMECOMING IS HERE!
I get to see my husband again! All those months of tears and head tilts and parcels and lonely evenings in and weddings alone and emails and phone calls has come down to this day.
No pressure then!
I am out of the house at the crack of dawn, yet still always manage to get to the dock dangerously close to when the ship gets back. I have no idea where this time goes, but go it does.
Then the brass band starts playing, I find this particularly annoying, don’t ask me why but I feel it makes what is quite a personal moment feel like a parade.
When I see the ship, I get dizzy. My love for the much under appreciated tug boat must be noted now, because for all of the might of a warship, they still rely on the little tug boat to bring them safely home. I’ve always said to Popeye, if I was a ship I’d be a tug boat, small, chunky and sturdy, built to last and 100% dependable.
The ship comes alongside, and there they are! Gorgeous sailors standing in line, no matter what the weather. Then the search begins. Can you spot your sailor? For some reason if another wife finds Popeye first I get annoyed, so I scan frantically.
As a side note, at my first homecoming, after spending 6 months worrying whether I’d recognise Popeye, whether he would still fancy me, and whether he would get off the ship, look me up and down and go “erm, no thanks” and turn tail, I had decided, in my MOT wisdom, to not wear my glasses to homecoming.
Dear readers, I could not find Popeye on deck. Not only could I not find Popeye, but I started waving at a sailor I had guessed was Popeye, but in fact, was not. All the time Popeye can see me, frantically waving at the wrong sailor.
In summary, if you can wear your glasses. Or do as I did and invest in contacts.
You spot them! Then they disappear as they start to come down the gangway.
There they are.
And that’s it. That’s the moment. They are right there in front of you, and then they’re in your arms and you kiss. And time stands still, the world melts away and you drift away from your own body. Your spirit sings.
You’ve done it, they are there. Really there.