May 26, 2011

This Kind of Fool

When I was a senior in high school, a guy I'd gone on one date with asked me to the prom.

I said yes.

But I didn't tell anybody about it.

Because I was pretty sure something would happen to make it fall through.

And then it did fall through.

And I didn't go to the prom. Again.

I've spent most of my life expecting the worst: not counting on anything, not letting myself look forward to anything, just in case someone changed their mind, got sick, or got struck down by some other act of God.

That's why, whenever I actually let myself get comfortable, settle into something, enjoy it, or rely on it, I feel like a fool when it falls through.

Which it inevitably does.

In the three months that I worked at my last job, I was reticent to give out my business cards to anyone I met, for fear I wouldn't be reachable at that email address or phone number for very long. Nevertheless, I settled into my desk, surrounding myself with enough pictures, postcards, figurines, and collectibles to fill two boxes when I had to return to retrieve my stuff after being laid off. I'd stopped looking for a job, because I thought I had one. I'd signed a year-long lease on an apartment, now full of all of this furniture, and a three-year lease on a brand new car that one dealership told me I couldn't afford.

Maybe I should have listened.

I'm a fool to think anything can last.

I'm a fool to think anyone would want to keep me.

I'm a fool to think I'm different than anybody else.

I'm a fool to think anything is different than anything else.

I'm a fool to think anyone might actually mean what they say.

Wouldn't it be better to go into any new situation - job, relationship, neighborhood, etc. - knowing it's only going to last three months, and making the most of it while you're there, while you can?

You could choose to not enter the short-term situation ahead of time, because it's not forever, but why? Why not work if you can work, love if you can love, and enjoy it while it lasts? Then maybe its ultimate and inevitable demise wouldn't be so heartbreaking, because you expected it all along, and savored every moment as they slowly slipped away from you.

Isn't that better than pretending it's going to last a year or two, or four, or forever, and then it ending before it's really even had a chance to begin?

Or, even worse, never letting it begin in the first place?

I can't help but mourn these unmet promises, these unvested interests, these fleeting dalliances. Had I known these too-brief encounters would be my only shot, my only turn at bat, I would have tried to do more, while I had the chance...

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