I am not a great believer in destiny or kismet or what have you, but I am left stunned and wary by the depth and intensity of this thing I'm in right now, because the most worrisome thing about it is how perfectly mundane it feels. When we talk, or in the few brief hours I have had with him, there is no heart-pounding dizziness. I never feel tongue-tied or awkward or at a loss for words with him. I never wish I were lovelier or more articulate or vivacious. I am at home being myself with him, in a way I've never felt before, and all of a sudden words like fate start to ring faint alarm bells in my cerebellum. I am hesitant to bandy around words like love, but I don't have another name for this fragile egg of emotion that is rising in my chest. I'm afraid I will drop it and it will crack into a hundred thousand pieces too small to glue together. I'm afraid I will crush it by holding it too tightly in my hand. I am afraid that I will thoughtlessly leave it lying unprotected and it will be stolen, or I will forget where I put it.
I read Andrew Davis' The Gargoyle recently; I actually brought it with me on the plane to New Orleans. It touched me more deeply than I had supposed it would; since I made an offhand review of it on ing&ed, I have thought about its message of fate over and over again. Davis' metaphor makes even more sense than mine:
Love is not robust and love is not unyielding. Love can crumble under a few harsh words, or be tossed away with a handful of careless actions. Love is not a steadfast dog at all; love is more like a pygmy mouse lemur.
Yes, that's exactly what love is: a tiny, jittery primate with eyes that are permanently pulled open in fear. For those of you who cannot quite picture a pygmy mouse lemur, imagine a miniature Don Knotts or Steve Buscemi wearing a fur coat. Imagine the cutest animal you can, after it has been squeezed so hard that all its stuffing has been pushed up into an oversized head and its eyes are now popping out in overflow. The lemur looks so vulnerable that one cannot help but worry that a predator might swoop in at any instant to snatch it away.
That summarizes it very well indeed. There are predators at every turn. Even the specters of past loves can be enough to scare the skittish creature back into the safety of its dark branches. The worst part? That damn pygmy mouse lemur only lives in one forest on one island in the world. We aren't quite sure what it eats, or how it reproduces, or even how many of them there are in the world. Too few.
For those of you who, as Davis would say, cannot quite picture it, here is a pygmy mouse lemur:It's cute. And small. And very, very vulnerable.