The ends of things.
We rarely enter into anything not labeled “game” with the end in mind. Jobs come and go, but only the most cutthroat among us consider how the end of this gig leads to the next one. The rest of us just stumble along, grateful for the paycheck.
We certainly don’t enter into life with our inevitable conclusions in mind. Childhood is an extended-infinity-plus-one where anything is possible. Adulthood shimmers somewhere out there on the distant horizon, with its promises of no bedtime, ice cream dinners, and careers as doctor-spy-presidents.
Only in middle age do we really catch that first true whiff of mortality. Sometimes it’s a glance at the backs of our aging hands that hints at what’s to come, or perhaps it’s the curious assortment of aches, pains, and maladies with which we’re confronted once we step beyond the fulcrum point. Often we don’t fully grasp the inevitability of our end until we sit with our dying parents: once so strong, now trembling and fragile.
We try to bargain our endings away, deny them, fight them. We look for “super food,” rejuvenating creams, fitness regimens — anything to cheat death. Pop science offers new articles daily regarding the battle to defeat aging, but listen: Everything is impermanent, and we are part of everything.
With exception to death, nowhere are we more blind to impermanence than love. We don’t fall in love with any intention beyond happiness — long lasting, permanent, to the bottoms of our very souls happiness.
Jody hadn’t come home for a week when the phone call finally came. “I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I think we need some time apart,” she said.
I stood in our little kitchen. “I know,” I said.
“Four and a half years is a long time to be with someone, and we’re so young.”
“I know,” I said.
“I just want to find me, stand on my own two feet.”
“I know,” I said.
“Why do you keep saying that?” Jody said.
“Because I know how you feel, and it’s okay. I’ve known everything for a month.”
“What do you think you know?”
“I know everything, and it’s okay,” I said, and I told her about the day of the argument, about not finding her at work; about the journal she left in my car; about reading all of the dark secrets it contained.
“Oh God oh God oh God,” she repeated as I spoke.
“It’s okay. I understand. It’s okay.”
“Oh God oh God oh God,” she said, and she hung up. Ten minutes later the phone rang. “You asshole! How could you invade my privacy like that?”
“You’re right. I shouldn’t have, but I did.”
“You motherfucker. Fuck you,” Jody screamed.
“Let’s not turn this around and make it about me,” I said. She hung up again.
Five minutes later the phone rang again. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “You were always so good to me and I’ve been terrible to you. I don’t know why, but I can’t stop. I try, but I can’t stop.” She was crying.
“It’s okay. Everything is okay,” I said.
“What am I going to do for money? Where am I going to go? Oh my God oh my God oh my God.”
“Maybe you can stay wherever you are right now,” I suggested.
“With Lisa? No, she doesn’t have room.”
“Well, you can stay here until you figure it out,” I said. “I can crash on the couch.”
“I should come by so we can talk. Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” she said.
“Yeah, come by. We’ll figure it out,” I said.
I waited all night. She never arrived.