When I left for the trip, it felt like love.
There were pies baked and trail runs past sleepy rattlesnakes and big promises made in broken French – what more did I need?
More, evidently, as I ruined a good thing by wanting the immediate thing. I chose to blow up a problem rather than work through it.
A spark that began long-distance ended the same way. We didn’t write for a month, and then when we saw each other again, it was at a mall. I tried on some clothes. We walked around. We decided against a pizza cookie.
We didn’t talk about what had happened. We didn’t talk about what I’d said. We haven’t seen each other since.
Did I know then forgoing a pizza cookie would be a part of our last conversation?
Some last times are so clear. If you’re quitting your job, you know when your last day will be. But from there, the last times become murkier. When is that the last time you’ll see those coworkers? What if you get invited to the company holiday party? Or, someone’s personal holiday party? Or, what if you imagine you will, but don’t?
Mostly, last times are hard to predict. When was the last time you saw your best friend from high school? When was the last time you saw your middle school crush? When was the last time you saw your college roommates?
It’s been a while. It’s been a long time. Not since the last time. In a sense, last times aren’t always final times. Sometimes last times are just a long time ago. But in letting last times lie, we allow them to become final.
Our first times are such feats. First steps. First kisses. First days on jobs. I’ve posted my share of pithy “Baby’s first ____” on Instagram. Firsts are shareable, memorable and filled with potential.
The last times slip away. It’s not for better or worse. Sometimes friendships fade. Priorities shift. New leaves get turned over. Some last times are just inane (the last time I had a double-double at In-N-Out… over two years ago?). Some last times haunt us; others motivate us. If there is one thing they reveal, though, it’s our own choices. Whether through a conscious decision or blasé inaction, if there’s a last time we could revisit but choose not to, it’s ours to own.
As I think about the future – dining with strangers, learning languages, cooking for friends – and a host of other firsts, I can’t help but think about the lasts that will come along the way.