They say, "Don't always seem to go, that you don't know what you got, til it's gone."
What an insightful phrase. Catchy, even. Too bad it's not true.
I contend that you always know what you have. Most of this knowledge is even conscious. The difference comes in perspective, in whether or not you can accept what you have, and be content with it. It would be very hard to argue that a person does not "know" what he possesses, material-wise, relationship-wise, or otherwise. As a cognitively aware person, and giving others a general benefit of the doubt, I would venture so far as to say everyone knows what they have. Whether or not they can be happy with what they have, at any particular moment in time, is a different story.
Allow me to back up a little bit. Right now I am packing up, getting ready to move from Rogers Park to Bucktown. For those of you familiar with the city and its neighborhoods, that's quite the change. A lot of other changes have occurred recently as well; I graduated college, started working full time, and as of now, I am as close to financial independence as I may ever be. My life is progressing, it's moving on. And as it does, I find myself having to leave a few things, physical and emotional, behind.
I threw away my futon the other day. My freshman year of college, I bought a crazy royal blue futon for my dorm. It's traveled with me from place to place throughout my four years of college. My brother slept on that futon, ex boyfriends have slept on that futon, my roommate's friends have slept on that futon. Movies were watched from that futon, and card games were played while sitting on that futon. One of my drunkest nights was spent, at least originally, on that futon. And so, I suppose the futon was more than "just" a physical piece of crap, it housed many memories, most of them good, from the last four years. But, as is expected and, I would argue, necessary, it's time for me to move on. I carried the frame and the mattress of the futon down to the dumpster, and the next day the garbage collectors had taken it away.
Many other things that seemed so crucial to my college experience are also leaving me. I threw away many of my notes/tests/quizzes from classes I took the past four years. Nearly all of my textbooks have been sold back to the bookstore, save a few teaching texts I'd like to hold on to for a bit longer. My email with Loyola remains relatively unchecked, as opposed to when I was still in school, and would check it multiple times per day for updates from professors, counselors, employers, and the like.
And, one of the hardest things to give up was my relationship with AJ. I had spent the last 14 months, 25% of my college career, building (what I assumed to be) a fortified relationship with someone I truly care about. He became everything to me--an integral part of my life, even more so than all of the above mentioned things. As opposed to a thing, he was a person, obviously, and held in store so much more for me than I ever could have expected from a futon or an email. However, in late June, I made the choice to leave him behind, as well.
This choice did not come without many repercussions. We had established a life together. It was no longer "AJ and me," it was "we." We did nearly everything together, despite the sacrifices. We relied on each other, and somehow built a mutual dependency upon each other. We had plans to move in together, find full time jobs so we could support an adult lifestyle, and enjoy being young and in love. That all came crashing down for me when I was scanning in our paperwork to apply for a new apartment. I realized that, as great as things had been, there were bad times, too. And I didn't know if I could handle "signing up" for another 12-24 months of that. Being with AJ was everything I wanted at the time, or at least that's what I had convinced myself. But when push came to shove, I realized I wanted something...different. My 'in-love' feelings had escaped me; although there is still a strong sense of friendship and loyalty, nearly all romantic feelings for him had left my mind.
Things have been crazy since AJ and I split up. Just like I have a new couch lined up, a new (work) email to replace my college email, I also started seeing someone new. He's great, and I can see myself being with him for a long period of time. However, I can't help remember, just like I'll look back at those memories of my obnoxiously blue futon, or remember obsessively checking my Loyola email 20 times per day, I will also often recall all of the memories I made with AJ. 14 months doesn't seem to long to someone who's lived, say, 50 or more years. But when you're 21, that's about 5% of your life, and roughly 25% (or more) of your "serious dating" life. That's a lot of time to commit, and a lot to give up in a brief period. Those fond memories won't leave anytime soon. They've simply earned themselves a place in my cognitive scrapbook, to be revisited now and again, and respected with all that I have.
So, no, I don't think that I "know now" what I had, because it's gone. I knew what I had when I had it, and for a long time, I made myself believe it was great; it was exactly what I wanted. Just like the futon was exactly what I wanted. But people grow and move on. I will miss my futon, my old email, AJ...all come with such strong, powerful memories of my past. In a way, I suppose one could say all of those things shaped me into the woman I am today. I was lucky enough to value what I had when I had it, and now I can look back and appreciate what I had, even though it's gone. It's not "not knowing," it's being aware and appreciative. And for that, I undyingly am.