The first time I heard somebody say it, I was at work. I was pouring drinks, making small talk with customers, and trying – failing – not to eavesdrop on conversations. But as a bartender you hear and see a lot, regardless of your intention to mind your own business.
“Girls are like cars – wouldn’t you rather a new one just off the lot instead of an old beater with tons of kilometres on it?”
I was horrified to hear somebody make that sort of comparison. What kind of normal, functioning human being likens another human being to a car? And then I felt angry. Who does this person think he is, making comments like that? As if people are kept in showrooms, in neat shiny rows ready to be taken home and driven for the first time. And then I felt sad. Sad because I have a string of failed relationships behind me, because I’ve had my heart broken and stomped on, my ego bruised. Sad because I’ve had my fun, I’ve explored my sexuality. Sad because I have “kilometres.”
That certainly wasn’t the last time I heard something like that. Comments about baggage, about people being “used” and “damaged goods” – it’s basically like calling someone a slut or a whore, but with more weight behind it. Because these days you can earn a reputation without sleeping around. If you’ve fallen in love too many times, you’ve got kilometres. If you go out on lots of dates, like to meet new people, enjoy nights at the bar, dancing your night away with friends and strangers – sounds like you have kilometres. As time has gone on, I’ve discovered it goes even farther. Talk too much? Too opinionated? Enjoy conversations that nourish your mind and soul, conversations that stimulate you intellectually?
While I’ve found a lot of these comments are geared towards women, none of this is gender specific. You can be a man, a woman, gender-queer, transsexual – you can identify as anything and people will still have a shitty opinion about what you’ve done in the past, what you’re currently doing, and what you might be planning this very night. Like we are all supposed to sit inside and contemplate the way the earth turns, dwell on the sound of crickets, observe the clouds as they drift across the sky, all while we wait for that one perfect person to come along and say, “Thank you for waiting for me.”
We need to stop treating people like they’re vehicles – just because someone has been up and down the same dirt road a few times doesn’t make them used or damaged.
You aren’t worth more because you have loved less, just as you are not worth less because you have loved more.
Whether this is your first rodeo or your millionth, you are worthy of love, respect, and patience.
You are worthy of the world, worthy of someone who is willing to give it to you and worthy of going out and getting it yourself.
Remember that next time someone judges you for the number of people you’ve fallen asleep beside, the number of lips that have caressed your own, or the number of eyes that have run the length of your naked body. Remember that next time anyone tries to insinuate that you have to be quiet, reflective, and hesitant with your heart, mind, and body.
Be alone, be alone, be alone, they say.
Some people bloom in the stillness of their own thoughts, while others find their hearts in the company of others. Whatever your preference, whatever rocks your boat and sets your skies ablaze, I hope you find it and I hope it makes you breathlessly happy. I hope you enjoy your kilometres.