It’s over two years since I last posted about The Officer. God, that feels like so long. I can’t believe he’s been in my life long enough for me to write about him for two years.
Since he was last documented here, I went off to school almost a thousand miles from our hometown, where we met at sixteen. This added distance gave me intense clarity. After our initial goodbyes in August, he continued to reach out to me and check in, drunk call, or try to make me laugh.
With the flood of new guys in a new state- region, even- I realized the problem: The Officer was an excellent person and we are great platonically, but not at all romantically. We had identical senses of humor and he listened and understood when I often cried to him about my parents’ messy divorce, since his had gone through the same thing. I enjoyed his presence immensely, but, at least from my point of view, we had no chemistry. I didn’t feel any sort of attraction or spark. And at this age, chemistry is not something I can sacrifice in a relationship. Isn’t someone who you enjoy talking to and being with, even if they’re of the opposite sex, just a friend? Why try to stretch it into anything else?
Beyond that, too, there was the distance, which had widened as he stayed at school in the Northeast and I moved for my education, as another dealbreaker.
When I was home for the holidays, I went to an NFL game, a longstanding tradition of rowdiness and reunions in my city, with friends. I noticed my cousin, who went to school with The Officer, tailgating and said hi. The Officer, hammered but more so than everyone there, was with their group and was all over me. My disinterest and embarrassment towards his attention confirmed that there was nothing more than friendship.
So, having slowly decreased our communication over the fall and after the awkward situation at the football game, I finally met him at lunch to talk. I had only requested water when I told him the news.
“You’re genuinely one of the best guys I’ve ever met,” I told him, “but we’ll never be romantic. I value you as a friend and I hope we can always be close, but it’s not going to work, ever. And I’m grateful for all the times you listened and made me feel better and made me laugh. But it’s how I feel and you should know, finally.”
He was clearly upset, and I wish that I could say I was too, but I was more relieved. It felt good to have finally defined how I felt after years of ambiguity and what he may have thought was stringing him along. I was guilty, too, for using him as a sort of emotional punching bag, but I vowed to return the kindness he’d showed to me, always being a shoulder to cry on, to someone else. He barely said anything, but he thanked me for being honest.
This spring, he occasionally reached out to me, mostly to say hi or make me laugh, which I appreciated. This summer, he moved out West for the Navy, and, from what I hear, is doing well there.
I know it’s not an epic love story or anything heart wrenching, but I needed to document this. I want to remember feeling so accomplished, because I had kind-of, maybe just broken up with someone for the first time and it wasn’t a dumpster fire. I’d also secured a good guy friend after he’d gotten over his anger towards me, which I understood.
We keep in touch here and there and I know that whenever we’re in the same city we’ll see each other. Just as friends, though.