endings

“I hate this,” she mutters, swaying a bit. We’re towards the front end of a lengthy queue waiting to board an airplane for Dublin. I glance at her.

“Hate what?”

“Going home. The fun part’s over and now it’s just all this blasted waiting.”

I shrug, feeling a familiar smile tug the corners of my mind. “I love the endings. They’re conclusions, really: the end of a trip, the move back to the ordinary.”

“I hate conclusions. They’re pointless. You’ve already said what you needed to say — why do you need to summarize it?”

“Conclusions are necessary!” I bristle at the attack. I might not always like writing them, but I know their merit. “They don’t just summarize, they help us analyze and synthesize what we’ve done. They bring understanding.”

“They are completely redundant and useless.” She continues on, discussing the worthless conclusions of scientific papers. I listen with one ear, my eyes glued to the pages of my book as I trek through another murder mystery. I stand by what I said. Conclusions are necessary — just as necessary as introductions and body paragraphs.

She hates endings. I can understand that to a certain point. As for me? Well.

I wrote once that I collect them. I certainly haven’t stopped.

The last page of a book, the quiet tears that come with the end of Return of the King and Frodo going to the Grey Havens, the laughter at the end of a joke or the dazed feeling that always comes after watching an especially well done theatre production — the journey home.

Home. Without endings, I think, when could we be home? We cannot live in constant motion, exhausting ourselves as we move on, step after step after weary, weary step. If this trip abroad has taught me anything, it has taught me to breathe: the necessity of stopping, of thinking, of processing, of accepting. The importance of understanding where you are, where you’ve been, and what exactly that has made of you.

Endings bring understanding, and without that — why, without that, we’d all be Gatsbys, wouldn’t we? Or even like the Doctor. Either stuck in the past or bolting into the future. Never paying any mind to the idea of ordinary and sticking only to adventure, never noticing the impacts of our words and actions — never remembering to stop to breathe. Living far too recklessly, forgetting the present, and slowly turning into the last words of that particular Fitzgerald novel:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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