I remember the first time you ever walked into my job. Your face looked like it had been chiseled from stone, your expression stoic. Unapproachable. But in the center of all of that emptiness, two of the bluest eyes I’d ever seen were staring straight at me.
I looked you up and down immediately. Combat boots. Army greens. A backpack that looked like it was too heavy for any normal human to be carrying. I offered you a smile, and received one in return, but it didn’t have the warmth to it that I’d expected. It was a smile, nonetheless, and all too soon, you were on your way and out of sight.
You know how it usually goes–out of sight, out of mind. But you were the furthest thing from out of mind. I spent days wondering about you, who you were, whether or not I’d see you again. You were the first person I’d ever come in close contact with who was a part of the Military, and if I were to say that you didn’t strike a chord of curiosity in me the second I laid eyes on you, I’d be lying.
Weeks went by before I actually saw you again, and believe it or not, you remained in the forefront of my mind. When you finally walked in through the glass doors that I stared at every day, daydreaming entire shifts away, I smiled, I felt my heart swell. I told myself that my goal would be to make you smile every time I saw you-I figured you didn’t have the easiest life ever. How easy could being in the Army really be?
It took us a while to warm up to one another, but we shared a fair amount of small talk. I think you even tried to ask me out at one point in time, but just like you, I come across as someone entirely unapproachable and I shot you down without even realizing it.
Every single day for three months I told myself, “today’s the day, today I will ask him to go get lunch with me sometime.” I chickened out every time you walked in through those doors. Every time we started talking, my heart just raced and raced and raced.
And then, the day I finally talked myself into asking you out, you told me you’d be leaving in less than a month. My heart sank. “Where to?” I asked, trying not to sound like I was prying, trying not to sound too sad. You named a faraway place overseas. You’d be gone for two years.
I remember seeing you on a weekly basis after that day, knowing that your final day in the states would be coming around much sooner than I was ready for. I tried my best to get closer to you, but you only seemed to distance yourself. I think, in a sense, I was distancing myself too. What was the point?
And then, I remember you walking out of those same glass doors for the last time. You turned around and smiled at me, told me to take care of myself. I told you the same. Eyes open, head low.
I had days when I’d lose myself in thoughts of you. Why didn’t I ask if I could write to you? Why didn’t I try to find a way for us to keep in touch?
Six months went by, and you found me on facebook. I was so happy to see that you were safe, having a good time. You told me that you’d tried to work up the courage to ask me out, but just felt like there was no point because you’d be gone soon anyway. You told me you tried to plan your gym visits around my work schedule. You told me I was beautiful. I didn’t even know what to do with myself.
I’ve had more conversations with you on Skype than I’ve ever had with anyone in person. I’ve had more sleepless nights in the past year and a half than I’ve had in my entire life. I’ve never cried this much, worried this much, or been this much of a patriot. I find myself staring at “Go Army” and “Army Strong” bumper stickers while I’m on my way to work and I always feel an immediate connection to the stranger in the car in front of me. Whenever I see a man in uniform, I want to hug him, and I want to hug him because I feel like it’ll bring me closer to you. I want to thank him for all that he does because I believe in all that you do. I watch the news and I cry like a baby sometimes, because there are days and weeks that go by when I don’t hear a single thing from you. Sometimes I resent the Army. Sometimes I have dreams about you coming home that are so realistic that they wake me up and leave me wondering where the hell I am and why you aren’t right there beside me.
Your deployment is halfway through, and you’ll be home on leave soon. You’ve been over seven thousand miles away for the last year and a half, and no one has ever made me fall more in love with them. I don’t think you return my feelings, though, I think yours are far more juvenile, I think your intentions are bad. I think I’m too much of a “good girl” for you, and I hate that. I hate this feeling. I can take you as you are, but I don’t think you can take me as I am.
In a sense, I want to forget about this good girl part of me and just enjoy spending the time that I get with you while you’re on leave. But, in another sense, I love myself far too much to be just another notch on your belt. I feel lost, but found at the same time. I’m just glad that you’ll be home soon, I’m just glad that our feelings for one another are out in the open and that, this time, I can say what I want to, do what I want to, spend time with you the way that I want to.
Soldier, I just want you to know that you’ve changed my perception of the world, in good ways and bad ways. I want you to know that I worry about you and lose sleep over you, and all that I want to do when you return home is run into your arms like I’ve so frequently done in all of my dreams about you, squeeze you tight and never let you go. I know you’ll only be home for two weeks. I know how fast two weeks go by.
I just don’t know what to expect.
Just love me.