In case you couldn’t tell by my whole slew of Karlin posts recently, I’ve been feeling generally sad (and my recent compositions, since I only tend to compose when I’m unhappy somehow). This is because sometime toward the end of last summer, I realized that I was in love with her. I wrote her a love letter as she left for college, and she responded to me with kind words that felt a little… empty. Gradually it dawned on me that she didn’t love me in return, at least not in the same way. I confirmed that during an explicit conversation a little while ago. This whole christmas break I have been distressed, lonely, and emotional as a result.
So, what do I mean “I realized that I was in love with her”? I didn’t fall in love with her. Whenever I am sad, lonely, upset, angry, worried, etc. etc., when I spend time with Karlin I feel okay. Okay, better than okay. I feel peaceful, cenetered, complete (without holes; i.e. the opposite of holy). This is true even when the sadness, etc. stems from her. Indeed, when I get home, sometimes the feeling reverts, but while I am with her, it isn’t there. Cuddling on the couch watching some movie with her is as close to utopia as I have ever experienced. When she touches my hand or puts her head on my shoulder, I feel the most marvelous sensation, like a drug I have never tried. The latter is fairly typical stuff for most girls I date, I suppose, but keep in mind that I have known her and been friends with her for six years! That is much longer than such charges usually last. It makes me believe that this one is permanent.
Also, I am completely accepting of her (this wasn’t formerly the case, but has been for the last year or two), which is an indication to that this is a healthy relationship. Occasionally she bugs me or does something I don’t like, but I just tell her and she is receptive, and it isn’t a problem anymore. She is not infallible, but I’m never bothered when she decides anything, as long as I know she has put thought into it (this may just be because she has excellent judgement). I am okay (and I don’t just say this or put up with it, I actually mean it doesn’t bother me) with her dating or having sex with other people. So at this point, we have an extremely rare combination, because I typically am the jealous type.
This was all true at the beginning of last summer. Around then, she and a bunch of my friends went to a comedy show, and I said something about “my girlfriend”, referring to Karlin. When we got back, Namaste said “you still call her your girlfriend?”. I responded with uneasiness, and concluded that it was just a convenient label. That’s kind of how I felt: she’s a girl, she’s a good friend, I guess I’m just used to that label. That spring (before said summer), I dated a girl and told her about Karlin, that she was a good friend of mine and that I like cuddling with her and such, and that it didn’t mean that I had romantic feelings for her (i.e. assuring her that if that comes up, not to worry about it).
Over the summer, as I spent time with Karlin, I began noticing explicitly the things in the second and third paragraphs here. Sometime at the end, I put it all together: “this is what it means for me to be in love with someone.” It’s not romantic infatuation, but it’s not love like a sister either. It is less sexual than the former, and more charged than the latter, and somehow more divine than both. “This is the person that I would be willing to spend the rest of my life with,” I thought. This realization came with a fantastic feeling of happiness.
By our conversations, I think she feels all or most of the symptoms I have described in the second and third paragraphs. But in some way, she doesn’t feel the aforementioned divinity. And it is possible (in the most optimistic and implausible way) that she simply has not realized it as I hadn’t at the beginning of last summer. But what I feel is more likely is that her feeling for me is much more love like a brother (but incestuously :-). That is to say, unlike I with her, she would not be content in life without some other, more serious partner.
After having been through this series of term definition many times, I feel much better than I did when her letter’s emptiness first hit me. It’s clear to me now that I’m not just “the most together person who likes her back”. At first when I explained this to myself, I thought all the pain would go away (and it did in a cover-it-up kind of way for a day or two). I understand her position, and I am important to her, so isn’t that all I can ask for? I believe in the Turing Test theory of relationships, where you should never worry about how your partner feels, just how they act. Doesn’t that mean that I have nothing to be upset about, that I have no way of differentiating between her kind of love and my kind of love?
The answer is no. I can differentiate. When she finds her more serious partner, whether she says so or not, I will be put on the back burner, a suddenly minor part of her life, and I will be heartbroken. And that explains my pain right now.
Homer: How can the only thing I’ve ever been sure about in my life be wrong?
Marge: I don’t know, but it is.
 I do not consider Karlin a serious partner per se; it’s simply that, because of her, I feel no necessity for a serious partner.