What Stays

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I’ve been playing shadow games with transience lately.

I never see it directly; rather, it disguises itself in snippets. It’s too new a figure in my life for me to recognize it by its own face. It propels itself on the fast feet of happiness or slips by under cloak of sadness.

Outside a pub in Halifax, a stooped old man, alone, extends his Styrofoam cup halfheartedly at the cloaked people hurrying by. ‘Spare any…’ he starts, but trails off. It’s the fact that he doesn’t even finish his sentence that breaks my heart, that he is so hopeless that he can’t be bothered to exhale one. More. Word. In bed that night, I can’t shake the knowledge that I’ll be gone by tomorrow night and he will still be there. It will be colder. I’ll still have walked by.

In a different city, I’ll be in a morning-light room, dancing away from you in pyjamas, grinning. I’ll spritz your cologne on my neck and deepen my voice and say ‘Kiss me, baby.’ We don’t mention that in six days, you’ll leave. We’re better off because of the impermanence.

I see my dad talking to his father, who tries to stand but can’t, who tries to hide his shaking hands, who doesn’t recognize his grandkids anymore. I think of my dad’s Table Theory, that we’re all ants marching from one end of the table to another, and I notice how often he mentions ‘I’m sixty now.’ There’s so many things to be said, but none of them belong in the kinds of conversations we have.

In 2014, I closed a chapter in my life and watched hundreds of lanterns spill into the sky. I hadn’t realized that you could love a single space in time, that happiness could spill out past your physical boundaries. It made me realize there’s so much left untouched out there that I’m still itching to get my fingers on.

It’s all transient and permanent in beautiful and terrible ways.

We’ll all get older a single day at a time. The sadness near the end of the table means we sailed and laughed and adventured across it. The things you won’t be able to do anymore won’t change the you that we love. To be honest, those things never really mattered.

I’ll keep trying to make up for that passing moment in Halifax for the rest of my life.

And I’ll remember that the beauty of transience is that it leaves something permanent in its wake.

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