Singapore Slings and a Tiny Umbrella

Hey you.


It rained in Seoul on Monday for the first time since you left.  Actually, I think it might be the first time this year. I really really needed to get out of my room so I forced myself outside anyway (also driven by need to get dancing shoes fixed in advance of [Captain America]’ farewell drinks – I’ll capture ‘fly on the wall’ details for you in my next email, for certain 😉 ).  I dragged my little umbrella with me – it did not fare well in the wind.  It’s looking very sad and lopsided actually, but I can’t bring myself to put it out of its misery and throw it away.  It’s the one I bought during that freak rainstorm on our second date.  We were headed for some bar where some friends of yours (was it Ethan?) were waiting, but the downpour forced us to dive into a convenience store and I was fleeced for this little purse-sized rain shield.  We never did find your buddies that night… but I’m getting ahead 🙂  More on the second date umbrella later.


I’m hoping you are settled in at the final base now.  I’m not going to ask questions or make comments, because I know you haven’t got a lot of time and it really seems pointless with how little you can tell me over text, and I’m thinking that emailing isn’t going to be any easier to schedule than a phone call.  I hope soon you’ll be in more of a routine and we can actually talk.  I miss talking to you.  I don’t have you to share all my eye-rolling on the crazy US Army crap at work, or whinge about the crap air pollution here at the moment that makes me cough up a lung, or share all my planning for what happens in 6 weeks when I jump on a plane out of Korea.  I haven’t been able to tell you about taking [Cambridge grad LT] and [Nice Girlfriend] to the British Embassy bar and the crazy Aussie and Brit Colonel’s who got on a mission to get us all rolling drunk.  I didn’t get to tell you about the pandemonium the next morning at the Korean wedding, where potentially it was also some sort of cattle auction with all the pushing and shouting and handing over of envelopes of money.  (I don’t recommend ever attending a 300-guest Korean wedding with a pounding hangover!).


So, in the meantime while you are super busy, you’ve got to read more of my reminiscing and reminding you that there’s a kick ass girlfriend you kinda like over here 😉 It is also an excuse for me to go through all my photos while you’re away, and remind myself of all the fun times we had.  That’s the crazy thing with camera phones, right?  A million photos but I never look through them.  Changing that, as of now.


I don’t have any photos from our first days together though, so this email is just flicking back through memory ‘photos’.  Like how traveller-tanned and stubbly hot this Gladiator [You] fullah was when I first met him after a loooong two weeks of texting.  I am still really flattered that you literally landed from Bangkok, showered and then took me out for our first date.  I’d already texted drunkenly that I kinda liked you.  Guess you must have kinda like me too? 😉  And I was thinking that you must have kinda liked me after lunch turned into a walk, turned into a drink, turned into dinner, turned into standing at the Galloper saying goodbye 9 hours later.  And then – the urban legend that has become The No First Fate Kiss!  Forever my embarrassment, but also a really cute story now I know you were asking your friends if you messed up.  (Whereas I was asking SGT Vicarious if maybe you might be gay – there’s my ‘healthy’ ego for you!  I mean – what red-blooded straight man would spend 9 whole hours with me and not want to kiss me?!?  Right??).  But you restored my ego, and got a very very good beginning back on solid track, with your cute texting from your car while I was still walking home.  I still smile at your cute texting now (no small achievement with ‘she-who-does-not-enjoy-the-texting’!).  (But I’m still missing talking to you).


I definitely must have enjoyed the texts way back then, to be out in a rainstorm with you (and a tiny umbrella) in Itaewon on our second date, rushing towards the nearest bar where we could find some cover.  You know, I still have no idea where that bar is or what it’s called.  I remember there were people playing crazy ball throwing games, and there was some sort of photoshoot going on… or maybe it was just really intense selfie-taking by some half dressed girls and their boyfriends??  My memory ‘photos’ are a bit fuzzy from that part of the night – in some part due to the Singapore Slings I made us order (which were probably horrible, but I thought I was being sophisticated).  But probably mostly because everything else that night faded into insignificance after our first kiss.  Now that is a very nice memory ‘photo’.  Singapore slings, a tiny umbrella in a monsoon downpour – and kissing you J


Hopefully that’s a memory to make you smile in all your busyness.  Stay safe over there, you.  I miss you X


P.S. Random fact to keep you entertained (as promised!):  The oldest reference to a collapsible umbrella dates to the year 21 AD, when some fullah in ancient China had one designed for a ceremonial four-wheeled carriage.  Not to be confused with a parasol (non-collapsible), which goes waaaayy back to Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian times.  The use of the parasol and umbrella in France and England was adopted, probably from China, about the middle of the seventeenth century.  (There, now you know!).

War Games

Hey you.


I woke up in the early hours this morning for no reason that I can figure out except that I felt like my lungs were being crushed in some sort of vice because you are gone and I was filled with the overwhelming feeling that you being gone isn’t going to get better.  I know that anxiety is a physical reaction to stress and overwhelming emotions, and I talked myself through the release of those physical symptoms and eventually even got a few more minutes of sleep.  I learnt how to do that and I know I can talk myself through it, anxiety doesn’t grip me and take over like it did once upon a time.  But here’s the thing.  I haven’t felt this iron grip for a long time.  Actual years.


Yes, the anxiety was conquered, but the emotions that gave it free reign to choke me out of sleep are still very raw and in charge right now.  And I don’t know how knock them out of the Captain’s chair.  Everything I’ve been doing isn’t even nudging them.  Not very optimistic, huh?  Sorry.


I know while I write this that I’m not going to send it to you.  Maybe in a few days or weeks I’ll know more of what’s going on with you, but I’m not going to add to your stress.


I know why I’m feeling hopeless even though I really was feeling all that positive energy in my last email.  I’ve been sitting in war room briefings straight out of a 1980s Matthew Broderick Cold War doomsday movie, shaking my head at just how real these ‘games’ could actually become on the whim of egos.  And then, from inside a whole different kind of war, you send me texts saying how much you didn’t enjoy flying there.  You love flying.  You said it was ‘spooky’ flying over there.  I could hear your relief in the text that you’d actually managed to make all your dust landings.  I am worried.  You never ever say anything less than that you got this.  And its not like its first time nerves over there.  For you to tell me that you are doing anything less than being in absolute control is practically screaming to me that shit is not good.


Two days later and I almost wish that you didn’t have wifi, that you couldn’t flick a three word flippant morning greeting, or a ‘lol’ to some light hearted article I send just to try and keep it light, optimistic.  Cos now I’m just wanting to talk, now every text is feeling so superficial.  I’m stressed you’re having to cope, and you’re going to cope by pulling away.  I know that’s your fall back, from your time with me but also you told me that’s how you were the last two deployments.  You told me you’d be different this time.  You were so open about it – bloody fighter jets taking off in the background while you were saying you want to keep talking this time, not cut me off and isolate yourself.  I’m still trying to hold onto that.  But ‘Good morning, have a great day!’ is pissing me off.  And in the anxiety, in that crushing fist, I was pissed at you as well as worried.  Really worried.  I fell back asleep telling myself I’d back off, not engage and let you actually communicate with me when you can do it.  I hate playing these stupid games – you know I do.  That was one of the first things I told you about me.  But it works with you, which also pisses me off.  Pull back and play cold, and you make the effort.  I can tell this is a learned pattern with you from past times, and I’m angry that your distance is making me adopt that same stupid behaviour.  I do grown-up relationships, you know that.  But ‘Have a great day!’ from the Afghani mountains and the iron fist crushing me in the dark made me decide to play games to make you communicate.


Then I woke up and London was in lock down.  I’m texting [Sensible BFF] and she’s ok, thank god, and we’re having a text conversation from war games in Korea to terror attacks in London, very calmly assessing that it could have been a lot worse.  God.  You know what?  Screw games.  I don’t know what’s going on that’s making you pull back right now, but I will tell myself its just temporary while you sort out whatever is going on.  I’m not going to stop making sure you know how much I care about you, how much I think about you and us.  Life is just too precarious.  No holding back.

Tinder and Daffodils

9 months apart – we got this! Because for 9 months together, we were awesome. And the first thing that made us awesome? We did Tinder right.

Hey you.


It was so good to finally talk to you over there yesterday.  I’m doing better, and I promise I’m going to work on staying optimistic.  Time will tell, like you said.  I hate gambling, by the way.  Did you know that?  So I’m really really out of my comfort zone ‘rolling the dice’ – but you already know that.  I’m going to do my best to stop stressing about what will happen over 9 months with you over there and me in Korea for a little bit longer then well, who knows where to be honest.  Something else to stress about… But I’m going to try to stay optimistic. I’m also going to try to ‘load the dice’ a bit to at least calm down my panic over this lack of control (issue, you think?? 😉 ).  I want to keep us talking, I know you want to keep us talking, and I don’t want either of us to forget that we are awesome while we have these completely different lives for 9 months that will be pretty all consuming – full on Afghanistan stuff for you and total career change – again – for me.  Because we are awesome you know.  You and me.


So I’m going to start with the first reason why we are awesome: we did Tinder right.  Awesomely right.  I actually don’t know anyone else who’s done it better.  Its really funny to think that the only reason we even know each other is because a very pushy Maori Sergeant told me to ‘harden the fuck up, bro’ (or other such ‘[SGT Vicarious]-isms’) and just get myself on Tinder already, 3 weeks into Korea.  And then proceeded to rip my phone off me because I couldn’t be trusted to ever actually swipe right on anyone.  Ok, so initially [SGT Vicarious] did Tinder right, not me, by getting me on it.  I swear you were not a [SGT Vicarious] pick though!  (I will not even discuss the scary array of characters she swiped right on…).  But on day 2 of me on Tinder, I did Tinder right on my own.  Cos that’s when I swiped right on you 🙂


And you totally did Tinder right.  First thing you did right: Your profile pic was cute and a little goofy.  Don’t get annoyed!  Your photo was very super cool dude – but fun.  Like you didn’t take yourself too seriously.  You didn’t put your sexiest photo first (diving pic – you know that one’s very very goooood 😉 ), which made me think you might not be a narcissistic wanker (there are many, many on Tinder).  And even though I can’t remember the exact words, I remember you described yourself as exactly who you are – 6’3”, Blackhawk pilot, adventurous.  I liked all of that – even though I’d promised [SGT Vicarious] no more pilots.  (She’d never know… lol!).  And then you described who the girl swiping right should be.  And I swear to god – I told [SGT Vicarious] that day that you exactly described me (over too many wines, Jaegers for her probably – you think us drinking and Tindering together might have been why it didn’t work so good the officer/sergeant thing later on??).


Second thing you did right: Really different opening line!  You were interesting from the start!  Not many Tinder conversations devolve into discussion of Roman gladiator leather skirts in 3 or 4 exchanges.  And third thing you got right?  You were you.  And you had good chat (that’s a thing).  You had just as good chat over 2 weeks of Tinder as you do in person.  That’s a rarity, mister.  I really enjoyed texting with you – you know what an achievement that is with ‘she who hates to text’ – you should be very smug!  I was calling you ‘Gladiator [You]’ when I talked about you to [SGT Vicarious], smiling every time I said it (what happened to that nickname, by the way?  We should bring that back 😉 )

Ok – random facts (I promised to keep your inquisitive mind entertained 😉 ):

Jaegermeister – that terrible horrible stuff that [SGT Vicarious] poured down my throat (only one night and no one ever ever will again!) – literally means “Hunting Master” and was an after dinner tipple for blue collar Germans until it was re-marketed as a party drink by an American importer in 1935.  (You Americans can party up anything 😉 ) Contrary to popular rumour, it does not contain elk or moose blood (I know – WTF?!?!?!).  Yep, now you don’t have to Wikipedia it.


Another thing I reckon we got right on Tinder wasn’t any of our doing.  2 weeks enforced texting while you swanned around South East Asia.  I was really surprised how much you kept texting while you were busy hunting down temples and surfing on deserted beaches (hate you).  And your chat stayed good.  You made me laugh.  I texted with a couple of others (unenthusiastically) but I kept saying to [SGT Vicarious] – ‘I like [You]’ – during her compulsory daily update (the woman was nothing if not persistent in her ‘living vicariously through me’). And – ‘But I really like [You]’ – when she made me set a coffee date with some unexciting buzz cut the day before you got back (who clearly ‘missed legs day’ every day at the gym by the weight room selfie profile pic – he did not do Tinder right).  I think we were forced to get to know each other a little bit over those two weeks.  I got drunk and texted that I liked you before we even met.  You told me that’s why you didn’t feel uncomfortable on our first date.  I liked liking you before our first date.


See – first thing that made us awesome.  We did Tinder right.


Last thing for now (cos its late and you know I don’t like this computery stuff to interrupt my crazy sleep wind down).  Daffodils.  Daffodils make me very very happy.  We used to have this huge bank covered in them behind our house when I was a kid, waaaay out in the middle of deepest darkest ‘Middle Earth’.  It was actually part of the cricket ground behind our house that I pretty much considered our back yard (don’t be afraid because I’ve mentioned a weird English sport – I won’t make you watch it, promise 😉 ).  We used to pick so many of daffodils in the spring that we’d have three or four huge vases of them in every room of the house.  Those big trumpet ones were my favourite, but we had all different sorts.  There are a lot of different types of daffodils now I think about it (I might Wikipedia that later…).  I love seeing daffodils – I have really happy memories of being a kid, and they mean spring and sunshine and summer coming.  I don’t think they grow daffodils in Korea.  I’ve been looking.  I found some other yellow flowers so I got them to cheer me up – freesias.  I like them too, they’re spring and yellow and smell great.  But they’re not daffodils.  Daffodils are awesome.


Ok – I’m done.  I’ll leave you to sleep.  I hope it was good flying again today, and the shift to nights isn’t too tough.  (Yeah I know, you’re an old hand at that stuff).  I’m sleeping with a smile remembering all of this about us (and also thinking about daffodils 🙂 ).  I hope you get a smile too (that’s my cunning plan…).


Goodnight you X