In This Way Only

“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

I think I’ve written here before about autistic special interests, the subjects/things/people my kind obsess over in order to escape our anxiety and cling to some unexplainable but powerful happiness. Some of us bury ourselves in role-playing games, some learn every tiny detail about a TV show or anime, some dive into the safety and soothing logic of railway timetables. These things are more than our consolation prizes for not getting to be normal. For those of us who are also asexual/aromantic, they are what we get in lieu of falling in love.

Granted, I can only speak for me, not any other; we are a spectrum, after all, or in my case, two different spectra. So, all right, let me speak for me.

My previous obsessions have mostly been TV shows. As a child, I clung to Star Trek: The Next Generation to escape my parents’ frequent fighting, daydreaming about being an officer aboard the Enterprise, being part of the crew-family, helping solve each episode’s threat to these characters I dearly loved. In high school, I was constantly online and interacting with fellow fans of the show Forever Knight, even joining in efforts to get another season of it, which we weren’t able to. Then the Lord of the Rings movies for a while, and so on, and on.

I felt safe hiding my head in the sands of these fictional worlds. The episodes that I watched over and over never changed, never wavered in how much they comforted and shielded me from at least some of my own anxiety and sorrow. Always uncomfortable with human interaction, here were people (characters) that I could come to know as much as I wanted to, but they would never know me, and therefore never judge me or hurt me.

In more recent years, I’ve taken to the practice of having not only special interests, but an OTP, a one true pairing, the relationship that you ‘ship (i.e. support, are a fan of) the most. Because of psychological reasons I might delve into in a future post, my favorite relationships were always almost exclusively of the gay male variety. Understand, unlike many fans, I’m sure, I didn’t daydream about one or both of them being in love with me, or being with either of them at all. And again, I’m sure unlike many fangirls, I never got any kind of…thrill, let’s call it…from watching or imagining the couple being intimate. I liked the aesthetic of them together, just as I love certain paintings for their beauty.

Looking back, there have been three strong, memorable OTPs for me these last many years. One’s members were from a video game series, entirely computer-generated. One was a pair of Japanese actors who played a couple in a movie series, and a fellow fan with inside info let me into the secret that they are also a real couple, but to this day, they have not gone public about that.

Yet all pale in comparison to my current obsession. Every obsession is the best, the strongest, the last when they come to be, but I can say with certainty that a ‘ship has never made me as happy as my newest.

I don’t know if it has to do with the recent positive changes in my life, or it’s merely the fact that this pair of actors is open about being together in reality as well as fictionally, or if, as I suspect, the dear gods have given me this beautiful gift to show me they want me to live after all. Because you may laugh, and that’s okay, it is silly, but my new OTP are accomplishing what years of therapy, dozens of medications, and the love of my own family was not able to accomplish. They make me want to live.

I’ve been joking to other fans online (that’s another thing, I love this community I’m in) that I have to be careful not to die before the couple’s next series comes out, because I don’t want to miss it, but I’m actually being serious. I’ve always found it useful to have something to look forward to, needed that in order to keep going, and every day, my photogenic little darlings are in my YouTube recs with new footage, or a new duet, or someone has subtitled some old footage of them. (Yeah, they’re Thai, so guess who now has to learn Thai?)

It’s amazing. I sometimes literally forget to take my pain medication because I’m so distracted by them, so happy to watch them. I wrote a song about their love that made at least one of my Twitter acquaintances cry. I still don’t want to live a long life here, but I don’t wish for death every day. I find myself even not wishing this whole Earth experiment would end, as I’ve spoken of in previous posts.

In this time when the consensus seems to be that we’re all doomed, I’ve instead found hope. It may seem silly, I know it is – these are two perfect strangers to me, busy with their careers and being helplessly, adorably in love before our eyes. But I mean this – it’s not hopeless, all of this. The world is not the dark, mostly-bad place I thought it was. It can’t be, because they’re here.

It’s as simple as that, really, as love always is. I looked at them, truly the happiest couple I’ve ever seen anywhere, and something in my strange, inhuman heart reacted to the bond between them. Maybe it’s because what they have is something I can only barely, faintly remember, something I will not have in this life, and who knows about the future. Maybe it’s because love is the most noble, pure, beautiful thing about the human experience. I don’t know.

I just know they’re there, here, and so, for now at least, I wish to be here, too. I want to keep watching them look at each other, and find solace in this, the very best I’ve found of this species, this game of spirits taking on bodies on one quiet little planet in the vast infinity of space. I wish I could thank them somehow. If I can’t before I die, I’ll carry this happiness with me to the other side, as I once imagined bitterly lugging my decades of pain, and find these souls, and tell them what they’ve done for me. I imagine I might have to get in line.

Author: athlynne

"From mirror after mirror, No vanity's displayed. I'm looking for the face I had Before the world was made." - W.B. Yeats

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