At first I thought of not writing anything here. Leaving things unsaid can sometimes be less painful. But I had to swallow my fear because I’m writing these stories for Kezia and Sylvie. The only really pertinent comment is the corollary that, of course, I love her.
I love her!
Then I thought there were a few others. One is an important specialization. What happens when you love someone but you hardly know them? You could doubt your affection right? Well, you would if you had any sense, since real love cannot be a superficial emotional state. It really, I think, requires quite a lot of time to develop and patience and maybe tests, and for sure, how can you claim to love someone without knowing really who they are and how they live and what they enjoy and what makes them laugh and cry?
The second corollary then, is that I love this wonderful librarian because I can intuit a lot of things about her which are clouded facts to me, things I feel I know but am unsure about, things that I can only estimate with a degree of belief, but no certainty. And one set of such unknowns is her inner happiness and beauty. She is, without doubt, a beautiful person inside as well as on the outside. Little clues about this are easy to spot: in the way she goes about her work, in the way she was happy to help me with a few requests, and they way she enjoyed receiving a couple of little hand-written messages from me, and many other small nearly inconsequential things. The mind picks up on these, and with it comes a small degree of faith in the character of a person, even though you cannot claim to know them as a friend.
You should know I am not being weird or silly here. I think everyone, from time to time, has such feelings about others. Relative strangers, but who you have a gut feeling about, sometimes positive sometimes negative, and you feel sure your instincts are correct, even though you may not bet our life on them. So you are, say, 75% or 80% sure of your instincts in such cases. And your past experiences in life will confirm this.
I’ve had this feeling once before in my life, (the feeling of knowing, with high assurance, that I was in love) but it was for a married woman. She was perfect. But unattainable. It broke my heart. She was not happy with her marriage. “Co-parenting” is how she described it. So I thought I had fallen in love with her. And truthfully, I still think I was in love, but only the one-way variety of “in love” I had my heart in the fire, but she had her heart closer to her family. But, for me, it was the real thing. Love. Unrequited. I knew her better than my beautiful librarian acquaintance. But it was not meant to be. Still, I know the feelings.
How did I know I was in love? It was the time span it took me to gain some peace and release from the emotions and heart-break. That’s how I know. It took so long. Can you guess how long it took?
It’s still going on! There has been no permanent peace. Years after having never spoken or contacting her since, I still feel like there is a void in my heart which I’m waiting for her to fill. But then I met the beautiful librarian, and instantly I knew that even if she turns out also to be in love with someone else, I just know my longing and desire will be displaced towards her, and I will go through the possible agony again, but first the nervousness of finding out more about her. And I just know the more I learn about her the more I will fall in love. And I just hope this will not be the same private pain as before, and that it will instead be wonderful and life-changing.
“You’re mad,” you might counsel. And you might have good reason to suppose so. So let me add a few caveats.
First: I have not loved many woman. I can name two. One was the married bundle of perfection who loved listening to my physics ramblings. So perfect. So out of my reach. So I know that I do not fall in love very easily. When I do, I know it’s more than an infatuation.
Second: people have widely varying propensity for love. For me it obviously can happen quite quickly, and yet so rarely. Incredibly rarely. It’s a curse, because all the hormones rage out of control and it takes a while to settle down and become deep and abiding love. But it happens faster for me than for most. And there’s nothing I can do to speed up the emotions in the woman I desire. So maybe it’s lucky it happens rarely, twice in my life so far, maybe a third time now. This rarity is not so much of a curse, but it is frustrating, because I do not want to wait forever to find someone brilliant and intelligent and beautiful who can also love me. I don’t want it to take so long to happen!
Third: I am well aware that to “be in love” is not a one-way relation. It requires two people to form a lasting bond of friendship that can be called love. So I am not claiming I am in love with her. (It’s so hard not to write her name, but I cannot, out of respect.)
So at present I am not “in love” with her. And maybe she will never allow me this pleasure? But I do know that I love her. It’s only one-way. As far as I know. And most people would think I must be stretching the definition of love beyond measure. But I’m not.
It has to do with intuition and temperament and prediction and inference and probability. Ever heard of Risk Intelligence”? It’s not about how to gamble successfully! (Far from it.) It’s about estimating probabilities accurately. An inexact science, but one which can be tested well. Well, I’ve scored highly on such tests. So I can estimate probabilities quite well. Partly it is a matter of knowing the basic mathematics, Bayes theorem and independent trials, and correlations, and so forth. Partly it is about being able to make detached objective judgments, and think things over more than twice, use some basic sanity checks and logic filters. And so I am confident the probability I will still love the beautiful librarian, once I know a little more about her background, is high, above 70%. The probability I will love her more than I even now suspect is also above 50%, which is a very strange sort of subjective statement to be making a probability assessment about! But there you have it. I will, however, not be so crass as to add this particular assessment into my risk intelligence journal.
The intuitive reasoning is also something I can write about. People often make snap judgments. And sometimes they are right on the mark, and sometimes they are not. But our brains and minds are influenced by many things we cannot articulate. So the whole body sometimes reacts viscerally to stimulus. And I can tell you that my whole body ignites when I see her. It’s not a foolproof method of divination. But it is good evidence I feel. How can I tell you, how can I convince you, without pointing her out and saying, “See her! Watch her move, listen to her speak, see the way she interacts with her colleagues and customers. There walks one of the best of people. A true representative of the best in humanity.”
And I could tell you why I know I am not entirely exaggerating. And I could tell you the hazards of such estimation and inference. But I would do so in a million parallel multiverses, and in 80% of them I would be correct in my appraisal. If you listen to your heart (not the big pink blood-pumping muscle in your chest, but the inner heart, the one your mind is attuned to, the one which speaks for your soul) then you will know what I mean. In some things in life your heart misleads you, and it is a tragedy, but when you know you have pure motives then your heart is a good guide. Not perfect. But pretty good.
I will admit I could be wrong about all of this. I’m just expressing my informed opinion. I am a romantic, but I am not entirely naïve and witless.
Fourth thing: do I want her to love me too much, so much that I am suppressing clues which would otherwise tell me she is not the right type of person for me to fall in love with? Duh! Of course! This is always a danger in matters of heart and soul. So what? I’m counting it as a small danger. I’ll cope with it anyway. If she does not even like me and never grows fond of me, what can I do? Nothing. You cannot force being in love. But I know I will still love her. The tragic one-sided unrequited love. It’s not such a bad thing. It is better to love someone than remain indifferent to your emotions and feelings. You just have to have courage. Sure, you may cry a bit, or even a lot. Unrequited love can be a seriously crushing obstacle to happiness, but it can also be mind-expanding and honey-blossomed, like a memory of a yearning and desire that was so strong you can taste it still, but which you can no longer recall whether it was real or is merely a remnant of a powerful dream.
You have choices. It is not impossible to bury feelings. People do it unconsciously all the time. People can also do it consciously by, for example, throwing themselves into their work, or jumping too fast into some other relationship, to blanket the misery of their unrequited love. Maybe I am mad. It’s a very sweet insanity if it is madness. I do prefer to live relatively exposed to my feelings and the feelings of others. You can do this if you either have a great big capaciously fond heart, or if you have a few good friends, but not too many. Since then your energy can go into your friendships, and you can truly empathize with your friends, and go through some of the joy and pleasure and pain and heart-break which they go through. That’s what being a really good friend is partly about. Sharing life’s ups and downs, laughing and crying together, playing and working, parting now and rejoining later.
Now I’m getting a bit exhausted writing this entry. So I need to wrap up a few final thoughts. There is too much I want to say. Mostly for myself, to remind me that I can love and not necessarily expect love in return. It’s not so bad. You can be a perfectionist without going nuts expecting life to be perfect. Being a sane perfectionist is not a contradiction in terms. You can aim to do everything to the very best of your ability, and allow that many, many things will be beyond your control, and so circumstances many not always turn out as you would like, but this is not an imperfection. It is life. It should be celebrated. And in some way you can consider it to be a form of perfection, since everything unexpected or non-triumphant is an opportunity for you as well as a chastening set-back. (A sentiment which must have been expressed a million times in a thousand different ways. But true all the same.) When you look back on things, aren’t these times always more full of opportunity than regret? Are they not more often sign-posts along life’s journey where you can say you were rightly guided rather than led astray? You do not have to wear rose-tinted glasses to perceive life in this way. It’s ok to feel remorse and sadness for things that were left undone or for love unfulfilled.
* * *
I’d like to record the conversation we had, but I’m fairly hopeless at remembering conversations. However, since I won’t get a chance to talk to her for a few weeks (I’m traveling) I had to have a go.
So after I told her, in my round-about way, that she is the most beautiful woman I know, she said, “Beauty is subjective.” I said, “Yes it is.”
She graciously said (something like), “What a beautiful thing to be told on a gloomy Monday!” I think I just smiled. I did not know what else to say immediately. I could not profess deep and abiding love, because I hardly know her, and to me love is such a huge concept, surrounded by so much more than lust and desire. It connotes a deep caring and happiness and intimacy, and these things take time to foster.
I said, “It’s going to be awkward for me to come down to the library from now on.” She laughed and pawed her hand in jovial dismissiveness and said, “Oh no, it’ll be easy.”
She located a second volume of Euler’s Lettres a une Princesse d’Allemagne (the only version in New Zealand). This was only a few minutes after I had told her my theorem. I said, “How did you do that?” She just smiled. I guess she knew that I knew it is her skill and profession to be lightning fast at locating books.
* * *
Now I must travel south to Wellington. I will at least get a chance then to visit the only library in New Zealand with the second Euler volume. But the whole project of typesetting it in has somehow been totally eclipsed by the thought of despair for the next two weeks at not being able to see her. Is this crazy? (You may ask.) The only crazy thing is that if you have just met the most beautiful woman in the world why would you first tell her this fact and then disappear for two entire weeks?
There is one good thing about being forced to remove myself from Langar, which is that at least I will not be intruding upon her time anymore. It would be stifling to have some guy hanging around where you work with the knowledge that he is quite possibly madly in love with you.
Of course, I have no way of knowing what she will be thinking. And to give you a little more information — if you are interested — you might like to know that I printed out a hard copy of Sunday’s post at oneoverepislon. This was not intended, but she had no time to talk to me over lunch or coffee, so I had only a few minutes to tell her she is most beautiful. I could not elaborate in spoken words.
Can you imagine the angst I felt handing over such heartfelt passages to her? It was not my best writing. It was not all that carefully edited. It left out so much that I felt in my heart. And, if I presume correctly that she is an avid reader, then, what was I thinking giving her this to read? I did write a quick note telling her she did not have to read it, since it was all a self-evident proposal. Maybe it was a bad idea? It’s done anyway. And I will have to wait two weeks at least to have any hope of gauging her response.
Just hoping she is gracious and does not hold it all against me as evidence of some sort of neurosis, is about the mildest outcome I can think of — it is not the best or worst. I did run in to the library Thursday morning before I drove down to Wellington. I had to apologise to one of the other librarians whom I had handed the printout of “The Theorem” to, for her to pass it on to the beautiful librarian. (I had been a bit short when I handed it over, saying something like, “It’s not for you.” I was just nervous she’d sneak a glance at it, and I was already worried if it was appropriate to reveal those passages torn from a piece of my heart.)
This other librarian is a lovely person too. I had eaves-dropped on her describing a few movie synopses to a young boy the previous week. The boy was trying to decide what DVD to loan. It was cute. So I asked her if I could use that little episode as the basis of a short story. I’m not sure she realised I was asking her for permission. Taking out a loan on a minute’s slice of her life.
Anyway. At the issues desk the beuatiful librarian was atteneding to customers, and she looked up and smiled at me, “Hello Bijou.” Which is not quite the final corollary I suspect. I hope. This one being the corollary that the act of telling a gorgeous librarian she is the most beautiful person in the world is a sufficient condition for being returned a beautiful smile. It’s an act worth doing, in other words.
I smiled back and waved goodbye. Hopefully she knows I will not be gone forever. I have to return to retrieve a personal belonging. I left my heart in Langar. But I don’t think the funky little sea-side town with the most beautifully graced library in the world will let me take it away.