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July 6, 2012 / Jess

When to Write Love Letters

Dear Army,

Many people think deployments are romantic. These people are idiots. No, wait, I’m just in a bad mood today. In fact, the reason I’m in a bad mood is you, Army, and my bad mood is the very reason why I chose this topic to write about. Let’s try that again …

Many people think deployments are romantic. These people are …  just people who haven’t experienced one for themselves or who watch too many romantic movies, or both.

There are elements to a deployment that are romantic. Yes, I get hand-written letters from my boyfriend. Yes, he sent me flowers AND chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Yes, we had a movie-like reunion at the airport when he came back from mobilization training. I turned, saw him across the room, and walked quickly through a sea of soldiers to get to him. When I reached him, I practically threw myself at him and he absorbed my weight with glee.

Yes, he gets silly foam hearts covered in glitter glue, books filled with post-it notes so he finds a random “I love you!” when he stumbles upon those pages, and letters smelling of my perfume.

These gestures make the deployment survivable. They do not make it romantic.

I can’t speak for him … but I rarely write any of those things when I’m feeling romantic.

I mostly write him love letters when I’m angry. And not just angry – pissed off.  At you, the Army, at this deployment, at people who don’t understand that Army girlfriends and Army wives do not go through the same thing, at people who tell me that it’s “easier” now that he’s been in the desert for three months, and at him.

Yes, sometimes I’m angry at him. Why do I get angry – furious – at him? I get angry at him for being so loveable that I have to suffer this much, and I get angry that I understand why he loves you, Army, but don’t understand why he can’t give up on you – even though you don’t love him back.

And when I’m that angry, like today, I write him a love letter.

This seems counter intuitive. Well, everything about you, Army, is counter intuitive. You’ve forced me to learn that it’s a mistake to trust my emotions. I trust the facts. And the fact is – I love my boyfriend. I really do. Even though I’m seething with fury as I type this, I love him fiercely.

So when I get like this, I often choose to write him a love letter while fuming. And by the time I’m half-way through, I’m not mad anymore. Something clicks in my brain as I remember that I love him and that my anger is not anger at all, but just me missing him.

The anger courses through my veins some days because it’s just easier to be angry than devastated.

I write love letters for Jonathan. But I also write them for me.

I never write them for you, Army.

(Not) love,



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