Despite my intensely Catholic upbringing, I no longer consider myself religious. But at the risk of sounding cliché, I will admit to dabbling in Buddhism. And by “dabbling,” mostly I mean that I feel guilty about not meditating more, and have read a single Thich Nhat Hanh book, called How to Eat, which discouraged my habit of scarfing down pasta while streaming another ungodly long episode of The Bachelor. But in my attempts to understand a deeper version of Buddhist practice and philosophy, I’ve stumbled upon a cornerstone of the teachings: the concept of impermanence. It’s hard for me, or should I say impossible, to understand that so many things that I love and depend on are only temporary. But even if, one day, I reach a level of ego death that allows me deep acceptance of this concept, there will still be a few things that always seem a bit too temporary. Below, my list of things that simply never last as long as they should.
The best advice I ever got? Buy toilet paper in bulk. I probably read this in a tweet somewhere. But really, you can never have enough toilet paper. Whether you have self-diagnosed yourself with IBS (me), or just need another excuse to shop at Costco (also me), take it from me and buy as many rolls as you can carry. Because no matter how many rolls you buy, they won’t last forever. And you will always, always, need more.
I feel that same way about IUDs that I do about nightgowns: every woman should try one. But the last time I went to the gynecologist, my doctor accidentally pulled out my IUD during my exam. It didn’t hurt so much as shock me, but the end result was that I had to go through the painful process of reinsertion all over again a few weeks later. Three years, you might think, sounds like an awfully long time for them to last, but when you’ve gone through the insertion process twice in a year, it doesn’t seem nearly long enough. If there was an IUD that would last, say, forever? I’d get it tomorrow.
That First Cup of Coffee
I have, as my mother says, no self-control. While I know that coffee only antagonizes my anxiety and aforementioned IBS, I can’t seem to have just one cup. The reason I find myself gulping down cup number five is because I’m chasing that first-cup high; no other cup comes close. How to make that first cup last a little longer? A bigger mug.
The Last Drink
This winter, I decided to try to stop drinking. I read Allen Carr’s book The Easy Way to Stop Drinking after a friend recommended it to me, and decided to take the author up on his suggestion to make something of a ritual out of what you decide will be your final drink. I thought, naively, that quitting drinking was going to solve all my problems; really it just forces you to confront those problems head on. But as I sat down to have my final beer, I savored the moment, imagining my blissful future, free from regret and sorrow. It was exciting, I was happy, I was stupid. Not drinking, in actuality, is hard, not least because my social life has been contingent on it for most of my life. I’m not sure I would have quit without a little naiveté. If I could go back, I’d sit in that state of blissful ignorance, sipping my final beer just a little bit longer.
The “Honeymoon Phase”
As someone who gets such bad “butterflies” that she’s been known to vomit—just the tiniest bit—before a first date, you would think I would yearn for the early days of a relationship to be over. But actually, I live for all that nervous energy and excitement. It’s the part of the relationship where you think: This could really be something. It’s the part where you start to imagine a future together and all the good that that entails. Not to be a total cynic (did I mention I’m single as a Pringle™?), but the future as you imagine it? Almost always better than the reality. Before you know it, the future’s here and you’re living in it. His alarm goes off way too early, and he snoozes for 30 minutes. Or when she clips her nails, she leaves them on the bathroom sink. Fortunately, things like these are never included in the rosy glow of the “future.” Long live the ignorance of the honeymoon phase.
What else doesn’t last long enough? I know I’ve barely scratched the surface.
Graphic by Lorenza Centi.