Today is June 18th. I don’t need to look into Triumphs & Tribulations to see what was going down on this day in history. It’s always in the back of my mind what happened on the 2011 edition of this day. After all, it changed my life. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: The Community Planner’s text.
How I first came across this moment? This all started shortly after The Community Planner—my girlfriend at the time—got back from a week-long trip to her native Houston a month earlier. I noticed a slight change in her disposition but it wasn’t anything that sent red flags or was cause for concern. There were also 3 planned dates that she canceled at the last minute, including an all-day date in which we were supposed to take the Amtrak Northeast Regional up to New York City. A week before the infamous text message, we watched Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals at my apartment. Before she left my presence that evening, we kissed but it felt a little different…like kinda withdrawn. Again, I didn’t think anything of it. Then came the following Saturday—June 18, 2011. I was watching the local news and they mentioned how the weather was perfect for The Taste of Reston. I looked up what the event was and saw it was pretty much a foodie’s paradise. I shot her a text asking if she wanted to go. She hit me back with the “we need to talk” and when we did talk, it wasn’t good for me. She basically revealed that she decided to give her son’s father—who had abandoned them a year prior—a 2nd chance after they had a heart-to-heart during that Houston visit.
What it meant to me then? As I noted in a post 6 years ago, June 18, 2011 unleashed a firestorm. The text message I got from my then-girlfriend was the chink in the armor for me. It was the start of a terrible 4 days that culminated with me getting a letter of reprimand after a particularly heated moment I had with a newly-striped master sergeant from the HVAC shop. Things got progressively worse from there as the summer lingered and I saw the reunited love birds all boo’d up and s*** in the parking lot of the Civil Engineer Squadron (remember, we worked for the same organization though not in the same office). Soon enough, people at work started inquiring and I had to deal with the embarrassment of the situation. Initially, I sought to take the high road. That’s part of the reason why I dropped a cool $100 on her head in the unit’s pie-in-the-face fundraiser. I was going to deliver the pie to her face just to show her I was a bit irked by what she did but I also was going to bury the hatchet with a hug afterward. But she no-showed, which irritated me. As the summer moved deep into July and August, the more burnt I felt by what happened. I only saw red. At that particular point, I wanted vengeance or a reprieve.
What it means to me now? The fallout from The Community Planner’s text still resonates today. I mentioned that it changed my life. After a mutual friend of ours told me that she told her that they were considering getting married, I took that especially hard. I made the decision to throw my name in the hat when the Enlisted Quarterly Assignments List (EQUAL) came out. I ended up getting selected for the Osan assignment. Up until that point, my plan was to stay at Joint Base Andrews and possibly slide into the open GS civilian slot in the Customer Service Office, allowing me to stay committed to the great work I had done for Diane Yorio. My abrupt decision to move on from Andrews started a mass exodus of the office as everybody was gone within 18 months. There’s a small part of me that feels guilty for abandoning Diane but I felt I needed to do what was best for me. That singular text message and the aftermath were so wide-ranging over the years. On the professional front, my decision to leave Andrews resulted in me getting the special Top Secret assignment at Osan, which factored largely in me getting my 1st Federal civil service position with USACE. The USACE position was a catalyst for me accepting the gig at the Department of the Interior, which set the table for my appointment into the Foreign Service. I only discovered the Foreign Service Facility Manager position because of my attendance at IFMA Facility Fusion in April 2012 and I discovered IFMA after seeing it on a postcard while I was in the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron Command Support Office picking up the mail for my office and completing an early outprocessing item for the Osan assignment. On a personal level, my friendship with Alonzo Jacque took off as a result of that text, and all of the moves I made resulted in me meeting Mercedes. In a manner of speaking, I’m not where I am today if not for that text message. It hurt in the moment but with the benefit of hindsight, it may have been a blessing in disguise.