by Kleitia Vaso

Love

During moments of exaltation, moved by the right phrase uttered or written at the right moment, a generous gesture coinciding with an especially receptive mood, I feel that I could love everything and everyone unconditionally if only the world allowed it. The receiver of this limitless love would be the donor of said words and gestures. The world, on the other hand, includes myself, the other person, everybody else, and the limits imposed by all aforementioned parties. Yet, I sense, precisely during these exalted moments that if people were honest and free with themselves and the other, unafraid to act instinctively and respond to their desires, magnanimous and not quite so calculated, our relationships would take entirely different forms from the deformed, truncated ones they generally assume. They might have no definite shape, for starters, simple yet seemingly impossible to achieve. This path, hinted at in these hypersensitive instants, would lead to a limitless, “crazy” kind of love, one that would last as much as nature allows. Perhaps, this way, love would not have such an early expiration date.Yet, exaltation is not especially resistant to the humbling tyranny of time and the real world. We probably cannot sustain or endure it but reality certainly helps by unfolding its obstacle course. The majority of feelings, experiences, relationships submit to its many conditions and limitations, possibilities and impossibilities, the paradoxically utterly unknown but usually well-planned future. Thus, what remains is only the knowledge of a much richer version than miserly reality.

This oscillation between what is and what could be causes a perpetual shift in perspective.  When clear-headed and realistic, I consider most people replaceable. Unfortunately, either life or the people themselves have shown me that, indeed, most are. Yet, at other, more emotional times, I experience both short-term and more permanent separations from important people in my life as a kind of death,  intensely painful and irreversible. A very thin line exists between these two diametrically opposed states, a mind allowed to run free or one kept under control. Stirred by someone’s real or imagined presence, I feel capable of anything, all, love encompassing thoughts and feelings, physically felt without physical nearness, tears, all-engulfing pleasure, cutting pain usually reserved us for permanent loss, death, not short or temporary separations. Although, they also are a form of death as that particular manifestation of us will never live again.

On these brief occasions of maximal experience, the intensity of the emotion erases the boundaries with the surrounding world, and I could almost melt  into a body of water, merge with a wave, only to evaporate thereafter and become part of the free, boundless air. But, most of the time, influenced by the outside world, its required and always clearly-demonstrated acceptable behavior, any person could be quickly or eventually replaced by another, every feeling easily contained and manipulated, all weightless, life fickle and unreliable and I, her mirrored image.

 

Separation or Death

When I let myself think of all the people from which life separates us for whatever reason, including death, I look around incredulously and I am stupefied that we continue to function, not to mention, act. For an instant, because it cannot be endured for much longer, I sense the lurking truth that if we allowed ourselves to think of all we have lost, people, episodes, sensations that cannot be re-experienced, we would howl like wounded animals, our screams the only sound echoing throughout the world. But, this awareness is quickly pushed aside, because only a few seconds immersed in it require multiple torturous steps running away from its suffocating effect. But run as we might, this looming presence is stronger than you or I, closer than we think, waiting to assert its unquestionable dominance, temporarily covered by a myriad petty details and routines which are absurdly treated as equally important to life and death, love, its beginning and end, injuries and wounds that we cause and/or suffer.

Time after time, as a result of an acute but short-lived sensitivity, these minor or major daily injuries are accompanied, for me, by the sensation of an unusually high fever and the belief, equally complete and intense, that this offense, comment, whatever it may be, is the end of the world, cannot be undone, overcome, endured. Life will never be the same again. Yet, later, the unbearable burden becomes gradually less heavy, naturally or artificially?!, and life marches on, unsure but treading lightly on the surface.

An Illustration

Walking with J., we suddenly turned as happens when you sense someone either staring at you or walking too closely behind. Indeed, at a distance of a few steps, a strange man was skipping along and walking like a child. His rhythm was unpredictable as he would walk for a while, then skip, slow down again and so on. He was clearly not “all there” (“there”, I assume is “reality” as most people see it) and despite trying to not become nervous or too, we were growing increasingly agitated, mainly because his movements seemed so unpredictable. It was a fear comparable to that of looking at a stray dog (Tirana has many), thinking it almost cute initially and then becoming gradually alarmed as it starts following you, walking quickly and then, renouncing all dignity, running away from it. Cute or not, the risk that it might bite is always lurking.

Sharing none of these worries with one another, after our paths diverged and we felt safe again, we turned once more to look at him from a reassuring distance. We could finally feel pity as he looked so utterly alone with his strange walk, turning his head from one side and then another, an anomaly in a sidewalk with people walking in the more conventional straight line. A little heartbreak. “I’m almost starting to hate people who don’t go crazy,” J. uttered. I almost broke down in tears but restrained myself and continued walking regularly, seemingly normal for all intents and purposes.

 

by Kleitia Vaso