Five Steps Ahead

“I had that planned out 5 moves ago.”

This is something Robert said to me after beating me for literally the hundredth time in chess yesterday. For whatever reason he is insanely great at chess (Question for Robert’s friends and family: did he play on a chess team or something in high school? I really think he has competed in this game before but is afraid to admit that he is actually the nerdier one in our relationship), but this isn’t such a bad thing, as I know his job is all about strategies.

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-11-39-40-am

I’ve noticed lately that it’s not just chess he’s ahead of me in. It’s life in general — particularly my life. One thing I absolutely love about our relationship is that Robert is really in tune with what I need. He’s always said he loves taking care of me and making me happy, and his actions match up very clearly with that statement.

A few days ago Robert told me he was sending me a package and that it should be at my house any day now. If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen my post about how much I love fuzzy winter socks. The very next day I found a package on my bed — that included a pair of warm, fuzzy New England Patriots socks! He had ordered it just days before I posted about my sock obsession, which is just the epitome of how he notices everything about me before I ever even bother to mention it.

That is a very small example of something that I feel like happens every day as we get to know each other more and more. It’s really nice dating someone who gets me. My best friend and I are really good at reading each other’s minds, but I’ve never really dated someone who has been able to do that. I didn’t realize guys and girls could connect that way so seamlessly before. Robert is someone who pays attention to how others are feeling and notices whenever my mood shifts, even if it’s a really subtle change. This is hilarious whenever I start getting a little grumpy because he is really good at making me giggle and come back down to earth when something is bothering me.

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-11-34-25-am
Aww this picture was taken exactly a year ago after Robert picked me up from a Christmas party!

I don’t really believe in soul mates, but if I did I’d think he was mine. There are a lot of ways we are really different, but I think many of those things just have to do with where we grew up (He’s a crazy from Boston, and I am a basic wannabe city girl who really just lives in the suburbs of Washington DC). Even when we don’t necessarily see eye to eye on things, we almost always “get” one another and are willing to learn from each other. I think that’s really important in a relationship. After all, no one is perfect — we always have room for growth — and it’s great being able to learn from people with perspectives different than our own.

Today’s lesson: The excuse “He’s just a guy — he doesn’t get it” should only apply to things like periods and giving birth (But seriously — you’ll never quiteee get how awful we feel once a month). They shouldn’t be excuses for things like showing a lack of feelings or affection. Yes, men and women are absolutely different, but I now know I can be with someone who genuinely cares for me as much as I do for him and isn’t afraid to show me.

My Heart Is Deployed

My friends who know Robert know he’s not crazy active on social media; he definitely doesn’t have a blog I can go to and read about all of his thoughts and feelings when I miss him (And in a lot of ways I’m glad there aren’t two of us who pour our hearts out to the world — that might just be a little much in one relationship, ha!).

I was missing him a little more than usual last night and did what any millennial would — I went to his Facebook page to feel like I had some sort of connection with him while he was away at work. We don’t get to talk a ton except during my mornings or afternoons, so nighttime is a particularly difficult time for me.

I smiled at the pictures I’ve come to know so well, and teared up at the one of us the day before we had to say goodbye. Then I saw something really strange on his page. He had written a Facebook status on Thanksgiving expressing gratitude towards his friends, family, and coworkers, but included this little line in the middle of it:

“I can’t believe the holiday season is here… It was over 8 months ago that I left Virginia, but the time has gone by quickly.”

What. The. Heck?!?!

IN WHAT WORLD HAS TIME GONE BY QUICKLY?!

I flash back to February when we said “goodbye” to our weekend visits. I barely even remember what it’s like to see someone outside my family that regularly.

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 7.00.02 PM.png
My best friend Audrey, once again, took this photo soon after Robert left for his deployment. It was so great to find this sign randomly at one of our photoshoots.

Then I think back to March and saying goodbye in Richmond. Okay, I’ll give him that, the emotions are still raw from watching him leave at 4:30 in the morning. I still can’t go back to that day without feeling really torn up about it. I am certain deep down to my core that the day we said goodbye in Richmond is exactly what leaving for a deployment is supposed to feel like. I remember walking him out to the bus, holding his hand and feeling tears dance right behind my eyes, but holding them in as best as I possibly could until I was able to run back into the lobby and break down. I remember feeling the way Kim Kardashian must when she does her signature “ugly cry” in front of everyone in the hotel lobby. When the man at the front desk asked if I was okay and came over to try to help me feel better, he put his hand on my shoulder and had a look of pity in his eyes I didn’t recognize because I hadn’t ever earned it before. This was the first time I showed that much of myself to a stranger. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized in that moment that was now one of the people I had always felt bad for in the past. I was someone who had to watch a loved one leave to serve for my country, and I had someone to worry about for the next ten months.

I think back to Baltimore in April and the two precious days we had together after we thought we wouldn’t see each other again until January or February. I remember that day so well too, but it feels so long ago.

As does the first week of him being gone and the many little moments I’ve collected along the way where I’ve tried my hardest to muster up just enough strength to keep pressing forward, even when I feel like my heart might not be able to handle another day of everything a deployment has to offer. Missing him often feels kind of the same day-to-day, but I can think back to several particularly difficult moments. Pulling my car to the side of the road to cry, attending weddings and events as the only couple-less one of our group, and spending  many chilly fall evenings in my PJs by myself wishing I had a snuggle buddy to name just a few.

Time is such a funny thing, and though it’s seemed very different to each of us, we both have experienced the exact same amount of time apart. We’ve also been blessed to spend the same amount with each other; it just somehow never feels like enough to me.

I’m hoping we’ll get lots of time together when he’s back. Time is easily the most valuable thing I own, and I love spending it on the people I care about most in life. I may hate deployments, but I absolutely love my soldier.

Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 7.12.53 PM.png
This is a picture of Robert meeting Governor Terry McAuliffe at his departure ceremony.

CONFUSION.

This story is something I think is a hilarious typical millennial move.

As I was drinking my morning cup of tea I got a text from “Matt,” saying that we needed to catch up and that he’d love to take me out soon. I realized that we hadn’t seen each other in awhile and figured it would be fun to hear about his recent trip to Asia. We texted back and forth for a bit and finally agreed that we would go out after one of my classes in two weeks.

phone

That time went by quickly, as my schedule is always packed, and he texted me the day of to confirm the plan. Matt was going to pick me up after my class and take me to dinner near my University. Perfect!

Something dawned on me that day, though. Was I certain this was the Matt I was thinking of? I assumed since there was no last name that it must be the Matt I knew from my childhood, but since I got a new iPhone we didn’t have any chat history so I couldn’t look back on previous conversations to piece the puzzle together. It seemed too late to ask which Matt this was — after all, I had already agreed to go out with him — so I went on with my day without giving it another thought. I surely would have put “Matt OKC” or added a last name if it was someone I didn’t know very well.

He called me after class and we discussed where he would pick me up on campus. I was a little taken off guard as his “phone voice” was quite different than what he usually sounded like, which only furthered my suspicion that this was possibly a different Matt. I began to think it must be the one from my friend circle in undergrad. I didn’t know this Matt very well, but I felt comfortable going out with him still.

I met him by the Starbucks on campus and walked up to the silver Camero he had described… As I opened the door I realized that this was not Matt #1, OR Matt #2, but this was a third Matt! Matt #3 was someone I had actually met pretty recently in graduate school. I played it off like I was expecting to see him, but I was completely taken off guard — thank goodness he was driving so he didn’t notice the surprised look on my face.

We actually had a really nice time, and I ended up making plans to hang out with him and some of our friends again soon. I added his last name to my phone as soon as I got home that night.

Today’s lesson: Always put first and last names in your phone. Especially with common names like “Matt!”