I never thought about forever until I met you. The thought had never come up for me before.
But from the beginning, it was all about words for you. Words like girlfriend, words like exclusive, words like married. They were foreign to me. I didn't understand why they were necessary.
You asked me once, Do you think we could last forever?
Maybe I just didn't understand the question, but I just looked at you and said, What's wrong with now? You looked down at your hands and said, Nothing, I guess. Just...haven't you ever wondered if we could stay together for the rest of our lives? I said no, no, I haven't.
I couldn't have lied to you.
I liked who you were. Can I say that much? I did. I just wanted you to know that, but I'm not sure I ever quite got the words out in an order that made sense. Sometimes I'm a little too good with metaphors.
I wasn't perfect, and I know that. I still wonder, did you want me to be? I know that my socks rarely matched and I did, at times, snore. I had horrible taste in curtains and I could not fathom the meaning of the word 'manicure'. But I was okay with that, and I thought that you were, too. You had a tendency to lose cash and not realize it until the delivery boy came, and you kicked the sheets off the bed just about every blessed night, and you managed to kill every plant I brought into our apartment. But I loved that about you; I loved your shortcomings and mistakes as much as I loved the perfume you wore or the elegant way that you did your hair. I loved the stupid things you did as much as I loved the feel of your breath on the back of my neck that made me shiver every time. I loved your faults as much as anything else about you because it was you.
I didn't know you didn't feel the same way.
I cannot say that I ever thought forever impossible. It's just that I never found it possible, either. It was such an ambiguity. Forever suggests that we have control over the past and the present and the future. From my personal experience, we have control only over whether we see beauty or don't. I saw the beauty in waking up together, not in wondering if we'd wake up together tomorrow. I believe in waking up but no promises.
I don't really remember the night we met. Isn't that awful of me? Seriously, though, we were both halfway shitfaced by ten o'clock. I vaguely remember telling you that I thought you were the prettiest girl at the party, and then you told me that we were the only two girls at the party, and for some reason I found that funny and laughed until I fell over. To hear you tell the story, you said that you were so impressed that I had fallen over but hadn't spilled the drink in my hand that you just had to kiss me. To hear me tell the story, I woke up on the floor the next morning with a bitch of a headache, an empty stomach, and a pretty girl on the floor next to me.
I don't really remember the night you left. Is that awful of me? It was an unassuming night. You just...didn't come back. There wasn't a note or a fight or anything missing. You just...you left me. You left me and I didn't know why and I was worried, I fucking worried about you, but I guess I shouldn't have. I guess you found that you could take care of yourself without my help. What was I to you? Was I anything? Just because I didn't have all the answers, just because I didn't know about that favorite word of yours, just because I didn't know about forever, did you think that meant that I didn't care?
Everything was only you.
A lot of our problems stemmed from carefulness. I had no use for it. You couldn't do without it. You said I didn't understand safety; I said you didn't understand living.
I know. I know it wasn't fair.
But I wanted to live adventures with you! I wanted our lives to be full of stories to tell, I wanted love to be a painting that we added colors to. You wanted...to be responsible, I guess. There would be no "liberating" the doomed koi from the scummy pond at the office complex a block away. There would be no reading poetry to the random people we dialed at the other end of the telephone, there would be no silly songs made to serenade the drunk girls in the apartment above us.
After quite awhile, after the newness wore off, life became comfortable. We went to sleep at a decent time. We got up in the morning and ate healthy breakfasts. We went to work, came home, and watched the news for an hour. We ate dinner at 6:30 sharp each evening from a menu pre-planned for the week. We fell into a routine.
And I suffocated.
Life was comfortable? I hate comfortable.
I like to do things that scare me.
Forever is not a word that I have ever taken lightly. Nor have I taken it seriously. I have never taken it at all. I do not deal in absolutes. It is not true that I always sing in the shower or that I have never been madly infatuated with some film star whose name I can't remember. It is doubtful that we will stay together forever, though it could happen. The vagueness of such a promise sets us up for heartbreak.
Before I met you, I had been liked, but I had not been loved, and when you came along, my life was turned on its head and I found out what it was to wake up in the morning and be happy. Before I met you, I had not yet been introduced to the ideas of zombie move marathons, wishing on stars, and true love. A lot has been said about true love: that true love waits, that true love exists, that true love does not exist, that true love is blah blah fucking blah. Want to know what true love is? True love is. Simply put, it is.
There was a time when you pulled me to the window, and told me to look outside. The sun was shining, and the rain was falling, softly, softly. Isn't it beautiful? You asked me. God, look. Is it the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? My eyes were bright and I took your hand, I said, Let's go! It's happening all for us. And you pulled away, said, What if it starts to lightning? We can't be out in that. and shook your head.
I've always wondered. About how things might have turned out differently...if not for that.
You can't refuse to dance in the rain for fear of lightning striking.
The fun is in the danger, after all.
After you left, I tried too hard. I tried to be happy, I tried to be sad, I tried to be angry, I tried to be nonchalant and cold. None of it worked. I wasn't anything. Without you, I didn't know what to be. I was so lost. I went to church, but I knew I didn't belong. I went to a club, but I can't dance. I even went to Alcoholics Anonymous, but when I stood up and said, Hi, my name is Hanna and I don't drink but I just feel so lost and I didn't know where to go so I came here, they told me to go home because AA is for people with drinking problems.
So I went home.
Nowadays, I am here, wherever that is. I write you letters sometimes, and even though I don't send them, I have a little hope that someday you'll reply anyway. I don't miss you, but I miss who you were. I miss who I was, too. I write that person letters and write random addresses on them, hoping that someone will reply and give me a push in the right direction. So far no one has, but I think hoping is half the battle.
I think if I keep hoping, someday something will happen to me and I will understand everything. Anything.
The truth about forever is that things change incessantly. What is today may not be tomorrow. But what I had to learn is that that can be beautiful. The ever-fluctuating continuum of life is both great and terrible, and forever is caught up in the hidden corners. If one thing had lasted forever, I never would have met you. If one thing had lasted forever, you would've lived your life with me, always wondering what or who might've been out there. And I know that I was not right for you. We would have been happy, but forever would've done us both a great disservice. The truth about forever is that someday, in an instant, your world will shift. And you can close your eyes and pretend it never happened, or you can open your eyes and accept the bittersweet reality that forever and never are one and the same.
The past was, and we were. Now is, and I am. The future will be, and the world will still turn. But I think there are no sweeter words than this:
nothing lasts forever.