How long is forever? Is it until we graduate from high school and forget about the people that we shared so many secrets with? Is it until we no longer measure the value of a person for what they feel, but instead for the money they make? Does forever end when our innocence disappears? Or is forever over when someone close to you dies and you can no longer make yourself believe in such a hackneyed idea? I never thought about how much forever means to me. I find it difficult to look past tomorrow, much less into the seemingly infinite years I have ahead of me. My thoughts are too busy noticing the way he always sneezes twice or how particularly pretty the sky looks around a quarter to five. I never thought about how quickly time is flying by me, because I always feel like everything is on pause. This never occurred to me until a friend mentioned to me yesterday that the people he knows now aren’t really who he was meant to be friends with for his life, they were simply people whose company he enjoyed and who helped him bide the time. I’d read about this in books, on blog posts, Facebook wall messages, in the fourth chapter of Going Bovine, but I never believed that this is actually going to happen to me. I will not be with all of the people I love for the rest of my life. But still I feel that this simply can not be the truth. I honestly have always believed in the word forever, I can see myself married and having children, calling my best friend to tell her that my child has decided to be on the Battle of the Books team just like we had. I could see myself meeting up with my favorite guy to marvel over the newest novel that we’d both wanted to read. I could see myself living my life as I’d always wanted to, and them being right around the corner doing the same. I’d always planned to move away from this fishbowl of a town to see the world and be the independent girl I yearn to be, but in the back of my mind, I guess I always thought they’d be there, too. I could see myself flinching from a playful smack Emily was preparing to give me at a cafe just outside of San Francisco and I could feel the salt on my face as I walked along a pebble beach with Carrie. I knew that Tommy would be there pointing at the menu to order us bubble tea in a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in New York. Mom would be only a five minute drive from the active volcano in Hawaii, and Hunter just a hop skip and a step away from the largest ball of yarn. In my backpacking adventures across the world, I’d never realized that everyone whose middle name, grades, IQ, and favorite movie I know, would not be there with me. I could not share in his idea that the people I have met are not the ones who I was meant to be friends with for all of eternity, because I know that they are. We can’t simply stay in touch, we must meet up for lunch every weekend because they are everything I could ever want in friends and more. I can’t understand his reasoning because I always envisioned him staying close to me as well, is it possible that even some of my best friends share in his thinking and can imagine a life where they are 10,000 miles away from me and don’t care what color I painted my nails? After these few paranoid freak outs, I realized that nothing is set in stone. Forever is what you make it. Forever lasts as long as you can possibly imagine, forever is not finite, and it never could be because it starts at least twelve times a day. Forever begins when you say hi to the girl in your sixth period class in middle school. It begins when you apply to that college out of state. It begins when you pour your heart and soul into an audition. Forever begins around coughs, pleases, thank yous, torn t shirts, falling, deciding this, deciding that, breaking up with him, being broken up with, and breaking your curfew. Forever is now and forever is always. I will never stop believing in the possibilities of forever, because forever has brought me to where I am now, and will surely take me to where I need to be. So it matters how many times he sneezes, and it matters how beautiful the sky can be right before the sun sets. It matters because it is throwing me from place to place, and noticing these beautiful things will help me find even more beautiful things in that never-ending, gorgeous forever that is calling to me.