I've always been afraid of endings. I dodge them, avoid them — find any excuse to hold on to what comes before the end. It's a habit of sorts, and I'll do just about anything to put the pieces of my life on a forever timeline. My fear feels most obvious, most tangible, in the way that I read books. I dive into a narrative headfirst, moving through the pages as quickly as I can, engrossed, only to stop at the final chapter and wait days, weeks even, until I read those final pages. I cling to the hope that's found in what if?
Much of my life has felt permanent. My family has lived in the same house since I was born, my friends have been the same since before preschool, and I've never known a friend to move away. So much of what I know is linked, the different corners of my life connected because I've made a conscious effort to connect them. My past and my present feel blurred together, and there's comfort, I think, in those ties, in the way that they erase time, making then and now and later feel not so far apart.
In the past, rather than let a friendship or a relationship or a phase of my life come to an end, I'd force it to shift shape and evolve into something different, more manageable, never quite willing to let it go, even when that may have been easier. And I wonder, sometimes, where that comes from — why goodbye can feel so drenched in dread. I'm grateful to love someone who embraces black-and-white endings, the finality of knowing what is and what isn't. Radley's fearless and sure in that way. But me, I've found that I'm most comfortable lingering in the gray area, the murky space where hope and maybe seem to live.
All this is to say that I've been wrong. Because some things don't belong in the world of forever, and that's a good thing. Endings, for what it's worth, can actually be quite freeing, because endings are opportunities, springboards toward something new. And so maybe, all this time, what I've really feared wasn't reaching the end, but deciding what's next: a beginning.