Expiration dates are funny, when you think about it.
When it involves objects, we don’t worry too much until the clock really starts winding down.
We buy milk and think, “This will probably be finished by the time it expires,” and so we don’t worry about it. We see we’re due for an oil change and think, “I can go a few more miles,” and so we don’t worry about it. But when an expiration date is placed on a person we care about, everything changes — especially as we get older.
There are varying levels of affect when it comes to expiration dates on people, with that level often hitting harder as we age. So before the clock strikes, we try to do the impossible — stop time.
We try to make it non-existent; and when we realize we can’t do that, we try to slow it down; and when we realize we can’t do that, we reluctantly accept the inevitable. We often go through the “five stages” without realizing we’re doing it.
Denial — “Why are they leaving?”
Anger — “It’s not fair that they’re leaving.”
Bargaining — “What can I do to make them stay longer?”
Depression — “I miss them already.”
Acceptance — “Let me make the most of it while I still can.”
By the time you, personally, are reading this, you are already on the plane; or you’ve landed and officially begun the next chapter of your life.
I want you to know that I didn’t go through the stages in the traditional order. I weaved in and out of each one like a drunk driver on an open road. I’m not in love with you, but I was falling for you. Hell, I think that I may already have.
If I am still in free fall, I’m waiting, praying for a bungee cord to halt my descendance and pull me back up before I hit the bottom. If I have already fallen, I’m trying to give myself reasons why I have not; bargaining with myself, if you will.
I’m glad you told me you were leaving when you did, because it gave me a small allotment of time to cram in every last moment with you. Had you waited until the last minute, it probably would hurt less in the end, for me, but I would also feel cheated; like I was robbed of time that I could’ve spent with you — time that I did not know was precious, valuable, or temporary.
When you find out that someone you care about has an expiration date, you won’t know how you’ll feel; you’ll just know that it isn’t fair.
My “What I Didn’t Want” list was pretty obvious — I didn’t want you to leave. I didn’t want you to leave so soon, before we could see where exactly we were heading; was it going to be just a short-term fling, or would it blossom into something more?
Some of my “What I Did Want” list was also obvious — I wanted to spend as much time with you as I can. Now that you’re gone, I kick myself for not being even more persistent than I already was. But the time I did spend with you — even if it wasn’t the longest amount of time — was still some time that I had to spend with you. And until you were on that plane, any time with you was what I wanted.
But some of my “What I Did Want” list wasn’t so obvious.
I wanted you to meet my friends — the closest people to me in my life. I wanted you to meet some of my family — the people who mean the most to me in my life. Included in that, I wanted you to meet my mother — the woman who raised me and taught me about relationships, and the same woman who nit-picks everything from “cockeyed eyes” to thinking that Katy Perry has a long neck. I didn’t get either of those.
I wanted you to meet them because I wanted to show you how much you meant to me without necessarily saying it. In 25 years, only one other girl has met everyone, and I dated her for two years and I considered marrying her.
I wanted to spend New Year’s Eve with you. I wanted to be your last kiss of the year and first of the next. I wanted you to be the last kiss, the last memory of what was a life-changing year for me on so many levels, and the first memory of what will hopefully be a year that brings just as much promise as the previous did. I thought it would only be fitting that you would be the one to cap it off, and I’m beyond thankful that this was one — if not the only — thing that did happen.
And perhaps most importantly, I wanted to spend your final night here with you. Not because I wanted to sleep with you; well, not in that sense, but I did want to sleep with you. I wanted to feel your legs intertwined with mine; I wanted the warmth of your body against mine; and yes, of course I’d let you stay on the right side of the bed because I know you like to be closest to the door.
When you told me you were leaving, I actively tried to make myself stop liking you more. I figured that this way, it would hurt less when you left; but it doesn’t work that way. The heart is turned to automatic, not manual.
I’m not upset that our time together had an expiration date.
I’m not mad at myself for liking someone who I knew was leaving.
I don’t quite know what the emotion is that I’m feeling, but whatever it is, it’s because I’ll never get the chance to see what could’ve happened between us.