nothing ever ends as you think it will

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If I’m a slut for anything, it’s closure.

I will do backbends, somersaults, aerial pirouettes (unsure if that’s a thing) to ensure I get the ending that feels right. I want the memories gift wrapped and then safely shelved away, everything neat and easily retrievable. I want resolution like a knife sliding effortlessly through a cake—no mess, all clean edges.

At least that’s what it used to be like.

Endings feel different now. I’m not entirely sure what it means for something to end because it feels like most things never do. Not really. Not fully. There are always dangling threads, smears of memories left behind, a puddle of feelings left to cool on the stained linoleum floor.

I used to obsess over lasts. Last dinner. Last night. Last kiss. I wanted to know when and how and why something was ending so I could squeeze every drop of meaning from it. I wanted to know it was an ending so I could properly record it and save the memory for a rainy day. It’s my last day in India and I’m hungover and sad, my final post from the Himalayas begins. And just like that, I can go back. My writing is a gateway to take me there.

But to record is to remember and to remember is to linger and to linger means to never leave and to never leave means it doesn’t end.

See, moments do in fact end—you move away, you breakup, you change jobs—but feelings never do; they mutate. And feelings may be the only true grasp of reality we have (thanks, Yuval Noah Harari).

Like a fortune-teller reading tea leaves, I find symbols in everything. It makes endings cleaner and more significant, even if it’s all in my head. It helps with closure, if such a thing exists. It helps with moving on.

I always dance on this strange precipice of wanting to share everything and absolutely nothing. Even in this blog, which people have told me is honest and vulnerable, I share genuine feelings but sometimes not the moment itself. People ruin beautiful things, Khalil Gibran wrote, and sometimes I feel like if I share too much the moment will no longer be mine, that it will lose some of its effervescent glow, that people will damage this wondrous, fragile thing and it just won’t be the same. I felt that way about last summer (you can read the one post I wrote about it here). I feel that way about quarantine-time in California.

Here’s how I knew it was time to go. Here were the symbols:

The rabbit was dead.
The kitchen was rearranged.
The grass the turkey had been calling home was mowed.

And here’s how California said goodbye in the final, waning hours:

The spot where I’d last seen a dying possum was covered in a deliberate pattern of pine cones.
The small, empty house we’d always passed by and commented on was no longer empty.
A dog I’d encountered only once before ran out of his house and up to me, staying only long enough for a single head pat before disappearing back inside.
A cat followed me on my walk and gave me the best leg nuzzles of my life, and I openly broke into tears.

Night walks were one of my favorite parts of the Central Coast (wrote about them here and here and actually here too). I took one final evening walk, clad in only shorts and a sweatshirt, the puffy jacket evenings a thing of the past. Clouds tessellated the sky that night; in fact, the sky hadn’t been clear in days, a somber last weekend of gray and rain after months of unadulterated sun. I remember my first night walk in California so vividly—wandering the neighborhood lost and alone, constantly scanning the sky for the Big Dipper. And there I was, six months later, alone, walking the same streets, knowing exactly where I was. I walked to my favorite ocean-side bench and listened to the black waves crash against the rocks. I waited and watched and listened and as I sat there the clouds shifted, revealing pockets of sky, and I looked at the stars—Leo and Gemini and Arcturus and Hercules—and I knew them all.

 

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