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He compared himself to an otter: He preferred to be forcefully happy; he liked the glass half full.
When the optimism cracked, I caught flashes of anger and hypersensitivity. I just had to bounce back from a gunshot wound to the chest and thigh.
I was thinking about a café owner I overheard saying that if he ever got a tattoo, it would be of his wife’s smile because he loved it so much. But I was also thinking about hot chocolate and our tent by a campfire.
Eventually Keith asked if I would hang out with some of his officer friends. He got serious fast, accelerating from “We don’t know what this is” to “I think I’m really falling for you” in less than three months, despite knowing I was leaving at the end of summer for a science policy fellowship on the other side of the country.
We stood around eating veggie dogs with barbecue sauce, listening to shop gossip about a fellow officer who had recently said something socially offensive about a minority group. Before I left, I took him on a getaway to see the places where I grew up.
I felt like I was being forced to take a “for or against police” stance.
I tried to be supportive anyway, later texting Keith about my gratitude for his being in my life.
Later on that getaway, driving through sun-soaked farm country, a patrol officer caught Keith speeding, pulled him over and let him off with a warning. ”Keith said it was just to give the officer all the pertinent information and let him decide what to do with it.
Both times Keith had passed the officer his police identification card along with his license.“What’s that do? For minor driving offenses it would probably get him off.But a few weeks later, weeks marked by deep tenderness and awkwardly painful discussions, I said I loved him, too. It would feel good to hear.“But neither of us was there. I had learned that Keith did not like to be confronted.Exuberant with praise, he clammed up at a note of dissent.He really liked the jokes, the drinking, the solidarity, the blue-clad brotherhood of acceptance. He showed me a video he had made of his training at the academy. Shoot-don’t-shoot scenarios and evasive driving and the day everyone got gassed and asked difficult questions while tears and mucus clotted up their faces. Though he said he wanted to leave work at home and just relax after a shift, policing permeated everything.He showed me the photo book his parents gave him and the various plaques he had been awarded and the police-themed quilt his mother had made him. He liked to tell me about his calls, sometimes even the tough ones, and I was glad to draw on my background as a crisis line volunteer to offer support.I could also tell they gave him acceptance and a source of purpose.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating