As people come and go
I think I’m obsessed with the fragility of human relationships. I reflect upon past relationships and consider the future of my current relationships. I remember boys who held my hand during the short summer months. I remember long-forgotten friends who comforted me while I cried about something dumb. I remember teachers who wrote “keep writing” in my yearbook and schoolmates who made me laugh in the middle of the soccer field. I remember strangers sitting next to me on the bus, strangers whose faces and eyes and expressions I studied so carefully that they were not so strange when the bus came to my stop.
I think about the people who touched my life who I will probably never meet again. Or the people who once meant so much to me, who mean a little less every single day. I think it’s one of the tragedies of life – that we invest so much in one another, only to have it fall apart or fade away or suddenly not matter anymore. We find each other wonderful and fascinating and beautiful and incomprehensibly irreplaceable, but in only a matter of weeks and months and years – we move on. Sometimes we look back, but other times it’s too painful, or we simply don’t care to anymore. And we find new people, make new friendships, kiss other strangers and the cycle continues. Meet, fall in love, separate, forget, repeat.
This must be one of the most unforgiveable things about human nature. Perhaps it is an evolutionary fact of survival. We have to know how to move on. When a loved one dies, eventually we learn to move on – the human race could not exist otherwise, we would have died out centuries ago, it wouldn’t have taken long for every human on earth to experience loss. But I don’t think I’m talking about death. I’m talking about break-ups, failed friendships, random interactions, brief encounters – all those emotions we feel in those moments. Where do they all go when the people we experienced them with have gone? Does the love go with them? Or does it stay hidden inside both of us, a memory we’d rather keep somewhere under a dusty mass of years? Does it all just become a secret that we can’t even share with ourselves?
And the memories, the memories! Where do they go? How can our hearts hold so many memories that we leave untouched for so long, sometimes forever? I often wish that I could play all my memories like a never-ending reel, a film that I would watch for days and days, sobbing and laughing and experiencing them one more time. But what good would that do me? The ex-lovers who lifted my chin with two fingers and stared straight into my soul – what good could come from looking into those eyes again? The friends who made me laugh until a little bit of pee came out, why should I want to relive that laughter only to have it end more suddenly and coldly than before?
And then I have to ask myself, is this the fate of all relationships? Is anything forever? Is it something we have to accept when we enter into all forms of human contact? Do we have to tell ourselves, this will end someday? There will come a time that I mean nothing to you and you mean nothing to me, and it won’t even matter that we mean nothing to each other. Or maybe it will matter, but only to me. So dance with me anyway. Laugh with me anyway. Hold me, fuck me, inspire me, scare me, stay with me a little longer anyway.
Or do we have to find a way to believe that some relationships must be different? Some relationships must exist outside of this universe where people fall asleep beside each other and then rarely think of one another again. And that we have to resist those conditions that reality has handed to us (however deluded and unsafe it might be), those conditions that explicitly state that people die, change, make mistakes, have regrets and sometimes wake up one morning and feel differently for no apparent reason.