We sat in the car tonight, he in the driver's seat and I next to him, for the millionth time. Almost the last time. We were each staring out our respective windows, but looking at the same things. Every once in awhile, we'd comment out loud on what we saw ("Remember when you turned onto the wrong side of the road?"), but for the most part, we watched in silence:
(I see the moon. Remember when we watched the clouds form surreal shapes around it? Remember when you rear-ended that guy ... and that other guy ... and that other guy? Remember the McDonalds, and how we'd always sneak it into nicer restaurants because we were cheaper than the rest of the group? I heard a story once, or twice, or fifty-three times that some dog pooped all over your car. Remember when I was so frustrated with you that I kicked your car and left a really big mark on it? Wait, I never told you about that. Sorry, by the way. Remember that your CD player is possessed and won't release your CD's for days at a time? How could you forget? You will. We will.)
I chewed on my lips (as he was likely chewing on his) and wondered how many akward silences, how many kisses, how many mints, how many songs, how many fights, how many apologies, how many McDonalds, how many open hands, how many touching words had passed between our seats over the past year.
I shifted in my seat and thought about how well it must know me by now, how well I know it. I hadn't realized how much this passenger seat had become a part of me until a couple of months ago when someone else sat in it as I watched from the backseat. It was like an out of body experience. I was supposed to be up there, exchanging words with the driver and resting my hand on his headrest. Instead, I watched myself sit in back and peek up, as though I was trying to remind the car that I wasn't in the right place. Now I'm back where I belong, but in a different way. And for the last time.
There are no more kisses, no more open hands, no more McDonalds. There are also no more fights and no more apologies. There will be one last song and one last meaningful word, and then there will be no more us. We can't stay in the car forever. We both know it.
I look at the clock and announce my departure. As I turn to look across at him, I fight the tears and the laughter and wonder how the hell this guy got so far under my skin and into my heart in one year. I know we're not "meant to be", but in a tiny time and a tiny space our lives intersected, a point which changed their courses forever. That was meant to be.
It began as it should, it will end as it should. In a few days, I will get out of the passenger seat for the last time. I'll climb into my own car, behind the wheel, and we will drive off in different directions. I know where I'm going and I want to go there, but as I drive, I will always remember what I learned from sitting in the passenger seat.