My First Love

I remember the first time my eyes I ever laid eyes on him, and something in me paused. He sat gleaming on the wall, with defined features and dark bronze tones that made me giddy with excitement. I’m not someone to believe in divine intervention, or really to believe much in ‘soulmates,’ but something in my mind whispered “wow, this is going to change my life.” He just caught me completely off-guard in a way no one ever had. I remember waltzing over where he was, and then after an awkward interaction (mainly just because I am one of the MOST awkward people EVER), getting his digits—thus starting the most passionate, transformative love I have ever known. His name fit perfectly with mine—the Clyde to my Bonnie, and yes, we had our heyday making shots and taking names. Well, actually, just taking shots.

Clyde, my Beretta Xplor Shotgun finished with a 28’ barrel and slightly pitched stock to fit my petite, curvy body type (for those of you who know things about guns, click here, mainly because I could talk about the mechanisms for the next 500 words, but that isn’t the point of this) , was my first love.

Throughout my life, packed with the wisdom of twenty years of existence, I have come to define love as a connectivity between two things, a powerful force that pushes you to be the best version of yourself, and through the experience of loving something or someone teaches you things about yourself that you never knew. Clyde opened the world of competitive shotgun shooting (yes, that is a thing, but what is it actually???), and both the game and community surrounding it shaped me more than anything else I have ever been a part of. Basically outlined, the nature of the sport is to hit a 110 mm in diameter clay pigeon throughout countless different patterns of flight. It has long been considered “golf with a shotgun,” in which you go to around fifteen different stations in order to show your technical skills in shooting.

I stumbled into Clyde at one of the most crucial moments in my own development–in that awkward stage between middle school angst and high school confusion when I was still trying to figure out what hormones, and purpose, and God, and BOYS were. (Although, it should be noted that I still don’t know what exactly boys are). I was a blank canvas, searching for the I in Bonnie, and something in me settled on this sport.

And today, as I sit on my bed reflecting on why I am okay after my first breakup, I have found myself revisiting my first love. Over our many years, Clyde taught me to believe in myself; that in order to hit the clay, first you have to put yourself out there and then go with your gut. Clyde taught me that failing is good for the soul (in the first two months of shooting, I was HORRIBLE), and the only thing you should learn from that is the value of putting yourself out there and trying again.

Shooting gave me the space to understand that absolute perfection is not attainable, but with raw stubbornness and determination anything is possible. Clyde taught me to handle my temper, to stay composed, to keep moving forward, because the moment you let self-doubt enter your mind is the same moment you stop believing in yourself. Yet, the instance the course is over, it is okay to not be okay, and there is a space to cry and be upset with yourself, always. Clyde taught me that I am powerful, despite my 5’4” frame that has been described as “cute”, and that I can always take care of myself.

Clyde also thrust me into a new world with some of the most extraordinary people I have ever met. It surrounded me with healthy relationships, such as a couple that found something after one of our shooting events and emailed the entire team about this cooler or chair, in which their spouse responded to the email that it was theirs. And in talking to them the next week, they simply giggled together–teaching me the importance of laughter. In these relationships, I saw the way I should be treated–with absolute love, patience, and laughter. These people also taught me that diversity should be celebrated; that yes, I have boobs, but that does not determine anything about me. They taught me that being the odd woman shooter, lawyer, or CEO does not make you lesser, just the more interesting.

In leaving for college, I made the hard decision to leave Clyde and this world behind. I found a new love, but like Clyde, that does not always end up the way we would have wanted it. And that’s okay. In the mess that is the end of a relationship, I must admit that I, myself, don’t quite know the ethics of a breakup. But after everything, I have decided to make the conscious decision to remember and cherish the memories, because love is really just a shot in the dark. Sometimes you miss, and Clyde taught me that.

This piece was written before the horrific Las Vegas Massacre that occurred on Sunday, October 1st. My heart goes out to those affected by this tragic event. In writing this, I am not making a political statement for or against firearm control; I am simply addressing the confines of love within my background.