the officer iii

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.

Catch up here first and then here.

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.

phoebejoey
[via marieclaire.com]
xx

instantblonde

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the disappointment of growing up

The most heartbreaking part of growing up, I think, is not pulling away from your childhood home for college move-in day or losing your first love or watching classmates  fall into drug addictions. It is realizing your parents aren’t the people you idolized as a child.

If you are lucky, you might have only flaws to discover: your mother has massive credit card debt or your dad chain smokes cigarettes.

If you aren’t, though, you might feel like I do right now. Your heart will ache with the disappointment of someone not being at all who you thought they were, but that someone isn’t a lover or a friend. It is a parent, whom you looked to for every basic need for many years of your young life, that doesn’t remotely resemble the person you saw in the audience at your dance recitals or you hugged goodnight at every bedtime.

It’s the hurt of being shielded from many harsh truths as a child and being exposed to them as an adult, as if your attachment to your parents will have lessened so the realities will sting without such vigor.

Your parents’ failed marriage will be no shock to you. The secrets that emerge after their bitter separation, though, will rock you to your core. The brokenness of each of your parents, oddly enough, didn’t slip out from the facade they called their lawful union.

Or maybe it was always there, but the illusion of a happy family kept it under the surface. Neighbors noted, “But they seemed like the perfect couple.” Seemed. Perception really is reality.

I think the silver lining here, at least for me, is that these realizations, though heartbreaking, forced me to be independent, to grow up, and to take a more forgiving and less idealistic view at life. People, even our parents, are deeply flawed, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t have a valued place in our lives.

xx

instantblonde

recommended reads

An excellent mentor of mine, Mrs. M, who has known me since high school, sent me a list of books to read over a year ago.

As I was cleaning out my space to return home for the summer, I found her list. Trying to be less cluttered, I knew I had to file it electronically so I could have it forever.

Mrs. M is a phenomenal person. Professionally, she is at the top of her field in our region and has been recognized nationally for what she does. Personally, she is also a joy. She is tough but kind and sincere and funny. I hope I am as graceful, accomplished, and elegant as she is. I would not be where I am today without her, and I want to impact as many lives as she has and still is!

Regardless, I chose to put the list here because I don’t want it getting lost in my notes- another thing I’m dreading cleaning out. I trust her recommendations immensely, and I know that the following titles will not disappoint.

Without further delay, here it is:

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Without Shame by Katherine Russell

Unfortunately, that’s all I have for today. Here’s to hoping for a good end to your April.

xx

instantblonde

 

what i want to be

I am at a stage of life in which we are all figuring out what we want to be. We’re circling options for relationships, majors, jobs, careers, and destinations.

All of this decision making has made me want to crawl into fresh sheets and never leave. It’s a lot of change in a short time and it’s the types of changes that have serious life consequences. They’re heavy, consequential, important choices.

But among all of them, we sometimes lose the values and traits that make us real. I think it’s easy to get enveloped in the mess of growing up and leave who you really are behind. It got me to thinking about what I want to be as a human being, and I wondered how people would describe me and if it would compare to how I would want to be described.

This is what I landed on:

Wild, unfiltered, unapologetically loving.

Isn’t that just the most beautiful description you’ve ever read? I just love it. It took my breath away when I read it. (It’s from a Huffington Post article which you can read here.)

I want to be all of those things. Wild, maybe even bordering on a little reckless, and absolutely enamored with being alive.

My friends would say I’m pretty good at being unfiltered. I am not afraid to say what I think. Saying what I feel, though, is a different story. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve and I disguise my emotions sometimes.

Being unapologetically loving is, to me, such an act of bravery. To be able to care so freely without fear of getting hurt is something I desperately want for myself.

This year, almost half over, has brought immense struggle and change and heartbreak. But at the end of the day, I’ve learned more about myself than ever, and probably the best revelation of them all is deciding that I want to be those three things.

xx

instantblonde

merry christmas

Though I am not a practicing Catholic at all anymore, my Aunt C sent this to me after my grandmother passed in August. I saved it into my notes and have been reading it once in a while for a little reminder.

After losing DJW, this has been something I’ve been reading more and more. I thought I’d preserve it here.

A Gentle Reminder from Pope Francis

This life will go by fast.

Don’t fight with people, don’t criticize your body so much, don’t complain so much.

Don’t lose sleep over your bills. Look for the person that makes you happy. If you make a mistake, let it go and keep seeking your happiness.

Never stop being a good parent. Don’t worry so much about buying luxuries and comforts for your home, and don’t kill yourself trying to leave an inheritance for your family. Those benefits should be earned by each person, so don’t dedicate yourself to accumulating money.

Enjoy, travel, enjoy your journeys, see new places, give yourself the pleasures you deserve. Allow dogs to get closer. Don’t put away the fine glassware. Utilize the new dinnerware; don’t save your favorite perfume, use it to go out with yourself; wear out your favorite sport shoes; repeat your favorite clothes.

So what? That’s not bad. Why not now? Why not pray now instead of waiting until before you sleep? Why not call now? Why not forgive now? We wait so long for Christmas; for Friday; for Reunions; for another year; for when I have money; for love to come; when everything is perfect…look…

Everything perfect doesn’t exist. Human beings can’t accomplish this because it simply was not intended to be completed here. Here is an opportunity to learn.

So take this challenge that is life and do it now…love more, forgive more, embrace more, love more intensely and leave the rest in God’s hands.  Amen.

“Why not call now? Why not forgive now? We wait so long for Christmas; for Friday; for Reunions; for another year… for when everything is perfect. Everything perfect doesn’t exist.”

Wishing you all the ability to lose perfection and embrace what we have, right here, right now, this holiday season.

xx,

instant blonde

P.S. Previous Christmas posts: 2015, 2016.

dear djw

Dear DJW,

I don’t remember the day we met. We always just knew each other. When you go to a small Catholic elementary school in a small town you just get to know everyone. I do remember, though, the summer we became friends. We were sixteen then and it was before the complexities of driving, sex, and relationships had really hit us. We spent many days together with EB at the neighborhood pool while she lifeguarded and we distracted her brought lunch (Chipotle, usually, but you never ate a ton of it because you worked out and were on a strict diet to keep yourself in tip top shape for the Marines.) We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we mercilessly but lovingly made fun of you for your escapades with the East High School girls, especially TW. We joked about being three deep and about Mrs. Z yelling at us to watch the swimmers more.

When I introduced you to one of my best friends, CM, that summer, I knew you would like her. I did not know that she would end up being your first and that you would both develop feelings for each other. I’m both grateful and apologetic for that. I want you to know that she cared deeply for you and I’m happy that you got to know and love her. But I’m also sorry if she hurt you, or the way my friends and I discouraged her from pursuing anything more serious with you did. I’ll never know what impact that introduction had on you, but all I can do is hope that it was a positive one. I’m sorry that I urged you that things with EB would never work out. I should’ve told you to follow your heart no matter what.

But most of all, I’m sorry that I never reached out before I moved. I should’ve told you to come and say goodbye. I should’ve asked how you were. I should’ve made you meet with the Officer so he could’ve told you about ROTC or enlisting or how much potential you had.

I may have always been a year ahead of you in school, but you were only a few months younger than me and a lot bigger and stronger, and you liked to remind me of that as much as you could. I always admired you immensely for your commitment to your family and your country. I imagined the letters and photos I would send you once you enlisted. I loved how good of a big brother you were, because I have a good one too and I know what a blessing it is to have that.

Our friendship may have faded since I moved, but I want you to know that I’ll never forget you. I love you and I hope that you’re at peace. I am immensely thankful to have known you and been your friend.

EB said, “Some people just touch your heart in a way that can’t be forgotten.” You touched mine and many others.

Rest in peace, DJW. 12.16.17.

xx

instantblonde