The year was 2009. It was a different time, then. Leslie and I weren't thinking about babies, we weren't the Mojeikos--we weren't even engaged. We were just a couple crazy young kids in love. In December, I separated from the Air Force after six years, and Leslie was on winter break before her last semester of grad school. She flew up to meet me on my trip out of Montana, and we drove through 12 states together to get back home and start our lives together. We've both been on roadtrips before, and after, but this one was special. We were still getting to know each other, and sitting next to a person in a truck, on the road for 10 days straight is either a) a quick way to learn that you can't stand somebody, or b) a reaffirmation of what you already know: I want this girl to be my wife. A few days after we got back to Florida, I proposed to Leslie, and now we're happily married with a little June bug on the way.
Before I get too off track, I wanted to show off one of my favorite things in our house: a jar of dirt. It's brown, smells weird if you open the lid, and will start to grow weeds if you leave it in the sunlight. Not exactly the ideal decoration, but I'll tell you why I love it.
During our trip back to Florida, Leslie and I stopped in each state we visited to collect a few ounces of dirt. Some clay, some sand, mineral, organic, whatever was available. We shoveled it up and secured it in our jar, labeled it for future reference, and now we display it with pride. It's a symbol of the trip we survived, the journey that started the lives we're now living together, and I'm happy to share it with everyone.