When my first dog died, my grandfather bought me another one the week after. He taught me that things you loved could be replaced.
Growing up, I applied this concept to all the things I lost or broke- it didn’t matter if it was a camera, a sweater, or a boy. I treated my possessions carelessly; I wore things out, I lost them, I broke them. I knew there would always be new ones.
Sometimes, the replacements weren’t as good as the originals. I told myself it didn’t matter, as long as there was one, as long as there would be a shiny, new thing to take its place.
And so I went through life, loving things, losing them, replacing them. I began to think there was nothing in life that was irreplaceable. Then, something happened that surprised me.
Someone did to me what I’d been doing to everyone else. He was the first person in a long time who took me by surprise, who’d thrilled me,. I spent a long time trying to fill the gap he left. I looked for him in everyone I met. On and on the carousel of replacements kept turning.
There were others that seemed just like him on the surface. Equally intelligent, well-travelled, successful. For the first time though, the replacements couldn’t come anywhere near to being as good as the original. No one fit me as well as he did. That one didn’t smile the right way. There was just something about them that didn’t feel right, the way it did with him.
I treated people like they were interchangeable, and this way of thinking was destructive because I didn’t value anybody for their unique self. I didn’t know then, that each person is made up of tiny, intricate details that are meaningful to some and worthless to others. I came to realize that no one is really replaceable– but still on and on the carousel of replacements keeps turning.