I mentioned in my last post a little anniversary book I made Adam before he deployed and that got me thinking. In several of the milso groups that I’m in, people are always asking what they can make/do/send their boyfriends/husbands/fiances/partners/ect. before they deploy. I thought I would make a little list of some of the things that I did for him before he left.
1. Calendar with important dates in them
I made Adam a little planner with all the upcoming important dates and important anniversaries. I wrote down all the dates we went on, when our first date was, when our anniversary was, my graduation, my birthday, my family’s birthdays, and so much more so he would feel included in everything. I also wrote little notes of encouragement on sticky notes and put them on random pages for him to find.
2. “Open When” Letters
So many people in the groups I’m in have done this. I thought it was such a cute idea and such a fun way for him to have a piece of me and how much I love him when we can’t physically talk to each other. I originally sent enough for him to open one a month but for his Christmas care package, I sent a few more so he had more to open. The topics were pretty easy to think of once I got going. Unfortunately, when I was writing them, I had been in a car accident a week or so prior and I was essentially high on painkillers when I was writing them. It’s always a laugh for us when he sends me a picture of the letter and I can see how ridiculous I was when I was writing them. In one, I drew a picture of a monorail for some reason and I’m not exactly sure why I did that.
3. Pictures and a picture frame
I went to Wal-Mart and printed some wallet-size images. I put one in a small frame for his bedside table or desk and the rest were just loose. He hung them up on his wall with tape. Some of the images were of me, some of us and some were just of places we had been. Florida, the beach, the lake, NC State’s campus, Holly Springs– just anywhere we had been and had fun.
4. A handwritten letter
When he went to a training in Florida, I sent him with some plane snacks and a little letter talking about how much I’ll miss him and how I can’t wait for him to come back. When he went to visit his family in California, I did the same thing. So, naturally, when he deployed I had to send another letter with him to read on the plane. It was like our last little private moment and it seriously made me feel so much better that he was taking a piece of me with him on the plance ride.
Honestly, all of these are super inexpensive, easy to carry and full of meaning. People seem to think big, expensive items are what they need to send and that’s honestly not the case at all. Small, meaningful and from the heart is where it’s at.
I would like to take a moment and talk about one of the scariest conversations you can ever have.
Defining the relationship.
I am by no means a relationship expert. Honestly, you don’t even want to know all my previous relationships and where they went wrong. But there is one thing I do know: you have to define the relationship eventually.
Pretty common sense, right?
Wrong. People just expect the person they’re seeing to magically read their mind and know what they’re thinking and how they feel. That’s just totally unfair and that’s how you potentially ruin something that could be wonderful.
Relationships are a lot of “what-if’s” and there’s no point in making it even harder on you. That’s why you have the DTR, the defining the relationship.
Adam and I matched on Tinder like so many of our 21st century, Millennial, counterparts. We matched on February 27– four days after my 21st birthday– and we set our first date for the following weekend on March 4 (I only remember these dates because I wrote them down for Adam in a little anniversary book). He wound up staying the night because we got back late and slept on my couch. We woke up, ate breakfast together and he left to go back to Bragg. I kind of thought that would be the last time I would ever see him and went on about my day. Well, an hour and a half later I got a text from him asking to see me again soon. That Wednesday, I drove down to Fayetteville and we met up for dinner. I got back to Raleigh, texted him, and he asked if we could go out again this weekend.
I know, it all seems like it went so fast but stay with me here. While, yes, we had our first three dates over the course of a week, it didn’t go this fast for long.
For the entire month of March, we went back and forth between Raleigh and Fayetteville seeing each other. He would come on a Friday and leave on Saturday and I would come down on a Wednesday and meet up with him for dinner. Eventually, he told me that he was going to be doing a training exercise in the month of April and we might not be able to see each other as much while he was doing this. Right after he said that, he told me that wanted to be an exclusive couple and wanted to keep seeing just me. I didn’t even need to ask, he told me to just think about it.
Did I mention he also dropped the bomb that he was deploying in August that night, too? No? Yeah. He did. He gave me all the information I needed to make an informed decision.
We kept seeing each other after that and he never asked me for an answer. He was never pushing me to say yes and he never even brought it up. Around the end of April I texted him and said, “When you come over tonight I have some good news.” Sometimes I wonder if he knew what I was going to tell him but, to his credit, he didn’t push me to tell him right then and there. When he came over, we had the talk about what we were, what we expected from each other and that’s when we became an exclusive couple.
It has seriously been a wild ride with him. There’s been so many ups and downs and differences, I can’t count them all. The moral of this story is: don’t let anyone push you into doing anything you’re not ready to do. If you’re not ready to be in a relationship, tell them. Don’t make them read your mind because they can’t. I don’t know if anyone told you but people can’t read minds. Sorry. You need to speak up at every step of the process and let them know your thoughts, feelings, concerns and expectations.
I mentioned in my last post that it had been a hot minute since I had written anything and that I was going to write a life update. Well, it’s here!
Adam and I recently hit our double digit day! What that means is we hit 99 days until he comes home– hence, double digits. I don’t really want to say when we hit it for safety reasons (I’m still not totally sure what falls under OPSEC and what doesn’t) and just personal security reasons. We’ve kind of been preparing little-by-little for him to come home and making plans for what we want to do.
We’ve bought tickets for several little things after he comes home around the state. We’re going to a second chance prom hosted in Greensboro in early September and I’m so excited. I already have the dress I’m going to wear when we go and I know exactly how I’m going to do my hair and makeup. I really need to find some gold shoes or something similar to go with my dress. I wore it to my best friend’s sorority formal when Adam and I first started dating and he’s been wanting me to wear it again.
We’re also going to the Fayetteville lantern festival in October. I’m a little nervous about this one because it’s going to be a big crowd and it might be a little boring waiting for the lanterns to take off. It’s supposed to have live music, foods and things to do. So, basically, it’s concert meets state fair. The State Fair is also in October and, since he’s never been to a state fair before, I think we’ll get tickets and go this year. I went my freshman year of high school and even though my college was literally down the road from the fairgrounds (I could have walked or taken a bus to the fair), I don’t really enjoy the fair so I haven’t been in seven years.
I gave Adam his birthday gift early but he can’t enjoy it until November. In November, we’re going to the Legend of Zelda symphony in Durham. I had to tell him what was going on so he wouldn’t A) buy tickets for himself and B) make plans for that weekend. He also needed time to ask for a weekend pass or put in for leave. I have it so we’ll get off work, meet up at wherever we’re living and go. I’ve booked a room at a hotel in Durham for the evening so we’ll get dressed there. If there’s time, we’ll go out to dinner before the show. If there’s not, I’m taking him out to brunch the next morning. I think it’ll be a nice evening and it’s a very adult gift. It’s not us going out to a bar and getting blackout drunk to celebrate his birthday. I feel bad it’s having to wait until November when his birthday is in early July, but it is what it is. I’m sending him a little something for his birthday to tide him over.
Everything is going really well with us so far and I’m really happy with where we’re at. Unfortunately, we haven’t had much time to talk since he moved to night shift but we’ve been making it work. I think we’re both ready for him to come home. We’ve started making a list of apartments to check out when he comes home and I’m really excited to see where the world takes us.
I started a new job but I’d like to remain rather tight-lipped about it right now. I haven’t even updated my LinkedIn with where I’m at now because I want to keep a lot very very private. I have my reasons for keeping it private and it has to do with personal security. I don’t want to really get into what I do, what my job title is and I’m definitely not telling where I work at.
I am super happy there. I enjoy my work, I enjoy doing what I’m doing and I enjoy going to work every day. I’ve been there officially for a month and I couldn’t be happier!
I thought I was going to quit The Odyssey in May but I was talked into staying a little longer. I was getting burnt out, I had very few ideas left and I just didn’t have the time to devote to being a good contributing editor. Well, an amazing opportunity came up that I couldn’t pass by. The Wake County Odyssey group was among the top 10 percent on The Odyssey. We had a healthy and active community since September 2016 and we’re still going strong!
Sidenote: if you want to apply to write with us, follow this link and look for Wake County North Carolina and join our team! My Editor-in-Chief or a contributing editor will reach out to you!
As you may or may not know, NC State, my alma mater, is in Wake County. Our managing editor (basically my bosses boss) came up with the plan to merge Wake County with NCSU and make a new Odyssey group. The thinking was that while everyone in the Wake County group has ties to Wake County, not everyone has ties to NCSU. Well, this merge created a new executive board. My EIC was planning to leave in May because she was taking on a new role at her university and I was planning to follow. When we merged with NCSU, one of our star writers stepped up the the plate and said she would take on the Editor-in-Chief position. So what ended up happening was Blair took on the EIC job, Carey is now the secretary (meaning she keeps track of who is writing, who isn’t, what their topics are, ect.) and I took over the social media director position since the previous girl left. Our recruitment head stepped down to focus on her schoolwork and so the NCSU EIC stepped into her role and the strongest writers from NCSU are now the contributing editors. Confused? So is everyone else.
I now don’t write every single week; I turn in an article when we need just one more to be healthy and I have a few fun ones waiting in the wings when they’re needed. As much as I loved writing for The Odyssey, I just couldn’t keep up with everything I had going on. The social media director position is much more suited to me because it’s what I’ve done before in previous positions and I’ve been enjoying it so far. Also, if you want to read some amazing articles by some amazing writers, you should like our Facebook page. Just search @WakeOdyssey in the Facebook search bar and you’ll find us!
I think that’s everything that’s been going on recently. I’m feeling great, I’m sleeping well, I enjoy everything going on. For all intents and purposes, I’m happy!
As Adam and I are coming up on our one-year anniversary, I’ve taken some time to reflect on our relationship — particularly the things people have tried to “tell” me about dating someone in the military.
I don’t let my identity revolve around making myself a military girlfriend and the military isn’t my life — it’s just his job. But it’s a job that helped bring us together and, for that, I’m forever grateful. However, I like to identify myself through my own actions, accomplishments and challenges.
But some people just don’t get that.
This is an actual compilation of things people have said to me over the course of this year.
1. “So you’ll be getting married soon? That’s what everyone in the military does, anyways.”
While I can’t refute the statistics, it’s really none of your business what I do or do not do.
2. “How do you feel about resigning yourself to a life of being underpaid and underemployed?”
Holy none of your business, Batman.
3. “People don’t want to hire someone they’ll only have for a few years — max.”
I cringe at this one.
4. “But you never see them.”
Well, yeah, while he’s in another country. But the rest of the time he has a normal job so I do kinda see him on a normal schedule. That’s how jobs work.
5. “Long distance relationships never last and you’re no exception.”
This one in particular hurts and I probably will never forget this person saying it to me.
6. “Wow. It must be hard being apart.”
It’s not exactly walking in a winter wonderland and a barrel full of monkeys.
7. “I just don’t think you’ll be together very long.”
This one also still hurts.
8. “So… like, that show ‘Army Wives’, right?”
I wish. Have you seen Claudia Joy’s sense of fashion? Amazing. She’s also a lawyer. Beauty, meet brains. But that’s a TV show.
9. “Don’t worry about him cheating on you, there’re no pretty women in the service.”
He’s not missing it, he’s just not here. Life is all about how you look at it.
13. “I just don’t know how you do it.”
I get up, I walk out the door and I live the life God intended me to live — man or no man.
14. “What do you do to keep yourself busy while he’s gone?”
It’s different if you’re asking because you’re trying to figure out how to occupy your time. It’s another story when you’re just trying to be nosy.
15. “Well, in my opinion…”
Halt. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. I didn’t ask for your opinion.
16. “I would never let my boyfriend be in the military.”
Lemme break this down for you. A) this was his choice before I came into the picture. B) this is a choice that he has decided on for himself. And, C) would you let your boyfriend be an accountant? A reporter? A professional video game player? Do you not realize how bratty you sound?
17. “Are you just going to live off him and his income?”
Hi, yes, I work. I have a great job. Two, in case you were wondering. Two that I love very much. Ask me about them because I’d love to tell you what I do for a living.
18. “You will be OK” or “are you sure you’re OK?”
The mileage on this one varies but don’t ask people you don’t know if they’re OK because some, like me, will hate you for it. I’m not OK when I look you dead in the eyes and say that I’m not.
19. “It’s just all so romantic.”
He’s romantic. Not his job. Romance is in the person, not the career.
I love to read all the Internet drama and shenanigans that go on around the Internet (hello, Cracker Barrel and Brad’s wife was the funniest thing to happen in March) and I love to see the carefully curated screenshots that go along with the drama. However, I don’t like to participate in it and I hate when things are based off of rumors. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t run on facts like a little robot girl– I have feelings and pathos appeals to me just like any normal human– but I hate when all you have to go by is rumors.
But guess what, friends. Rumors are what makes the military float. Every day it’s been something new; “we’re coming home in month A”, “just kidding, they’ve decided to push it back to month B”, or (my personal favorite), “they said they’re going to keep us past our orders and have us come home four months later in month C”.
I know, I know, never plan around the military; that’s a lesson I’ve learned all too well these past 8 months. I’ve had a crash-course in planning to plan again. At this point, I could teach a master class on preparing for one thing just to have another happen. I have no idea when Adam will be home and I’ve resigned myself to that fact. Like I keep telling him, it is what it is at this point and I have to be okay with it because there’s no other choice. I mean, where does getting upset get me? Hint: the answer is nowhere.
There is one thing I’ve noticed– the actual lack of information. I know that they’re given orders and (most of the time?) those orders have a date when they’re coming home. But, as I’ve just so recently found out, those orders can be extended. How often are orders extended? Is this something that’s common and you can always look forward to or is it rare? I’ve tried googling the answer to this question but, alas, to no avail (but if you know the answer, please tell me. It’s not so much that I need the information but more-so I’m just curious).
But wait, my friends, there’s more. Adam and company do not have new orders in hand about extensions. That’s right, there’s rumors heavily circulating around that they won’t be coming home when they were supposed to but yet there’s no official word that they aren’t. Wouldn’t you think they would get on that soon? I mean, there’s not exactly a whole lot of time left until they should be preparing to come home. Only one person has officially been given orders but he’s the last one to leave for continuity sake when the next group comes over.
I understand the logistics of moving thousands of people at once can be difficult, I really do. But wouldn’t you think someone somewhere would want to make a concrete decision about something somewhere? I guess the answer is no.
Adam and I are trying to plan our whole lives around this deployment and when he comes home. I’m currently looking to relocate closer to where he’s stationed when he’s not deployed because, more than likely, when he leaves the military to transition into the civilian world with all us plebs, he will be working out of the same city his current base is. In the long run, it makes more sense for me to be there as well so we don’t have to spend so much money on car upkeep and gas for long commutes (oh, did I mention that my city and his city are an hour and a half apart and the only housing options in the middle is farmland?).
However, I don’t want to move to an army-run city by myself where I have no friends and no support system. I mean, I’m currently living the dream. I live with my parents, I pay no rent and no grocery bills, all I pay for is my car upkeep and insurance and when I go out or shopping. If I move, I have to take on more responsibility– more responsibility than I’ve ever had. And, I could be doing it all alone for an indeterminate amount of time.
I don’t want to live in a high-crime city all alone with few friends and my family an hour away. It sounds terrible. Of course, one of my best friends lives in the same city since he’s stationed at the same base as Adam but he has his own career, own trainings to attend and his own friends to hang out with. I’m sure if I asked he’d come over all the time; but, do I really want to ask and take him away from his friends?
Of course, there are apps like BumbleBFF but I don’t really want to take the chance of the wrong person seeing my profile and thinking I’m on it for dating purposes. Or, I might get catfished and killed– there is no in-between in my mind.
The point of this is that I’m running on rumors right now and rumors get you nowhere. Remember when people thought Y2K was going to happen and they pulled all their money out, bought freeze-dried food to last a lifetime and built bomb shelters in their backyards? Obviously you can’t believe every rumor that circulates because then you wind up looking like a serial killer with a ton of freeze-dried food, no money and your family shoved in a tiny lockable space.
I’m trying to make huge life changes based on rumors. Will he come home in three months? If he does, then living alone won’t be so bad. Will he come home in five months? Maybe, but I can’t count on that either. Could I afford to keep up an apartment by myself for that long? I don’t know. I also don’t know how well I would do living alone for five months. Maybe he’ll come home in seven months. I for sure cannot live seven months alone with no friends and no family. It will literally be me going to work and coming home and that would be a miserable experience. But, if I move now, everything will be settled and ready for when he comes home.
I’ve always said that right now Adam and I are in this strange nebulous world of dating. Before he left, we were in a traditional monogamous relationship where we saw each other weekly, went on actual dates (some of our dates will be a future blog post, Raleigh has such fun things for couples to do) and we spent time together doing couple-y things. Now, we’re still monogamous but we can’t really do anything at all other than talk on the phone. Sometimes I like to joke that I’m in a relationship without all the benefits (a partner to comfort me when I need it, someone to talk to and spend time with, someone who will come rushing to my side with Chinese food and movies when I’m sick) and I’m single without all the benefits (free dinner, um… that’s about it, actually, dating sucks). As much as a joke, I’m committed to Adam 100 percent– even if I’m constantly waiting on him.
The best analogy I ever heard (okay, I made it up) was that being long distance like this is like trying to swim across the ocean. When you’re together, you’re a team. Helping each other across the ocean, cheering each other on, making sure no one is left behind. You can physically help the other person. But, when you’re long distance, you’re no longer swimming, you’re treading water. You’re trying to keep your head above the waves and playing a game of Marco Polo in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s not impossible but it’s just very difficult.
One of the things Adam and I liked to do when he was here was to watch movies together. Our favorite thing was to make dinner together and curl up on the couch with some Netflix and watch different movies– usually a scary movie– and eat our dinner. It’s obviously hard to watch movies when you’re in two different countries with at least a seven hour time difference between you.
That’s where rabb.it comes in.
I know this will sound super infomercial like and I apologize in advance but if you’re long distance, rabb.it is great. You can video chat and watch Netflix/Hulu/Youtube or even surf the Internet together. We’ve found that if the person with the better internet (me) streams the content and hosts the video chat room, then the person with the weaker internet has fewer interruptions. Their browser seems to read both the video chat and the streaming as one.
So, what we did Sunday was watch Black Mirror together. It’s a TV series with hour long episodes that don’t have an overall story throughout each episode you need to keep up with. The episodes are independent of each other. But, we could watch this together, talk about the episode, see each other’s faces and actually have a real-life reaction to what we were watching.
There’s separate audio channels so you have the ability to turn up the volume on whatever you’re watching and turn down the audio on whoever you’re video chatting with– if you so desire. I do desire because it can be really jarring to hear laughter in the middle of the episode. There’s even a neat feature where you mouse over the bubble your partner appears in and it puts them up big on your screen.
Other things I think we might use rabb.it for in the future:
Looking at apartments together– a lot of the websites are banned where he’s at
Updating our (his) resumes for future job hunting
Picking out products for our future apartment– I’m on the hunt for a plain gray bedspread and it’s the hardest thing I’ve done in weeks
There’s so much we can do with rabb.it to “spend time together” that we couldn’t. Ironically, even though we love Black Mirror, I’m grateful for the technology we have because it gives us the ability to be as normal of a couple as we possibly can.
So, thank you world for WiFi, the Internet, rabb.it, and Netflix.
Oh, did you also know rabb.it has an iPhone app? Me neither since I don’t have an iPhone.
Last Monday we got the news that my great-grandmother had passed. She was 96 years old and we were closer than you’d expect a great-grandmother and her great-grandchild to be. She was one of my heroes and I looked up to her my entire life.
Wednesday we went to the funeral and internment and it was, um, interesting to say the least. There was just a lot of unnecessary drama that wasn’t needed at a funeral. It could have waited at least until Maw Maw was in the ground but what’s done is done at this point.
But, one of the hardest things is knowing your partner wants to be there to support you and can’t be. Adam was there on Monday when the news broke but had to leave that night. It was a rough twelve hours; at 7 am, I got the news that my great-grandmother had passed and at 7 pm I had to leave Adam at the airport. Monday was probably one of the hardest days– emotionally– of my life.
My great-grandmother isn’t the only one I’ve lost while Adam has been deployed. I lost my grandfather (her son, actually) in November the same week of Thanksgiving. Ironically, we lost my grandmother, another of my dad’s family members, a week or so before Christmas two years ago. My family kind of sucks about holidays, I guess. But I’ve experienced significant loss during the 7 months he’s been gone.
Loss of a loved one is already something that’s incredibly difficult to take in and deal with and it’s even harder when you’re dealing with it alone. I hate to say alone because I had my family and we all came together to mourn and to heal but I was without my partner. You learn to rely on someone that you love to be by your side through everything.
What do you do when they can’t be there?
You just move on. There really isn’t a choice– you have to keep moving. Did Adam want to be there? Yes, he did. Did I want him there? Yes, I wanted him there. But sometimes, when you’re in that much pain, you can’t spend your time wishing and wanting for things that cannot happen. You just have to keep moving and going and being.
I know it sounds insensitive of me but what can you really do?