“Everything is temporary until it’s not, to me,” he says to me. I’ve had to squeeze this answer out of him and at first, I’m kind of taken aback. Why would someone go through their life thinking people are just temporary? How do you form attachments like that? And why does this make it okay to treat people like they’re nothing? I’m gone soon after, because I’m not wanted, because I am just temporary to him. And although I wasn’t sure at the time, he was just temporary for me too. A blip in my story, one that doesn’t even get a name.
I’ve thought about what he said to me that night for a long time. I don’t remember him so much as I remember those words. Because words have the power to change things, and I realized that even though he was a nobody, his words meant something.
Was he scared? What happened to make him be this way? Who hurt him this badly? Because surely someone had to have hurt him for him to act this way. He was another tinder date(s) gone bad. We were fine for a week and suddenly he was telling me this excuse. And while his face is a distant memory, one I haven’t dwelled on, I keep coming back to those words.
It’s true, though. Isn’t it? There’s a decision we make with each other. Someone is just an acquaintance, a coworker, a passerby, and then suddenly they’re permanent. They are our person, our shoulder, our everything. Maybe not even that, but we come to see them as someone we shouldn’t let go of. We circle our arms around them and squeeze, hoping they stay where they are but not wanting to hold too tight, for fear they might suffocate. We collect these permanent people over time, and sometimes we don’t realize that they’re temporary until it’s too late; they’ve made such an impression on us that watching them leave feels wrong.
But then a year goes by. And two. And five. And maybe ten. And we realize why they were temporary in the first place. Maybe we needed them then, but we don’t need them now. Maybe they were bad for us. Maybe we were bad for them.
And we keep moving, keep circling around the idea that we need each other to be permanent, when maybe everyone is just temporary.
Until they’re not.