Sunday, October 23, 2011

Love and Love

"Priorities and Sanity" 'verse.

Her first love is the obvious one, the one Emilia had since childhood. Love of helping, love of being helpful. This one could be two, if Emilia separated them, and she had. "But it's not terribly sensible," she mutters to herself as she scratches down the vague sentiments in her journal, as much to make sense of everything as to document. Helping people means another is in less pain, and being helpful means that she is a person--she writes, People are helpful, objects are useful., a phrase thought so often that she's unsure if she'd ever written it--but they both give her the same glowy feeling. Emilia knows herself well enough to separate the sources, but it's like separating love for two distant relatives. The love is because they are family. The love is because she helps.

The second is one she had certainly not had at the beginning of her apprenticeship, though she was aware of it and vaguely wanted after it. Some might call it "true love", though Emilia always felt that true love was agape, not eros.

She felt stirrings, of course, even before apprenticing. He's cute, or I really want to kiss her. But those were brief urges, and easily enough ignored, forgotten, or pushed aside until she could deal with them on her own terms. Though the mageling can do that with her feelings about Dale, they keep coming back. And after the first few times, she doesn't want to push the feelings away. It's like denying help to a person in need--she can do it, especially when the need is slight, but it hurts her just the same.

Emilia hates lying. It twists her gut and lungs in unpleasant ways, and sticks them that way for hours or days, depending on how big the lie. So when Dale asks, "Do you want to go to the dance with me?" she says, "Yes," because she does. It is irresponsible to go, but she does want to.

And now she shuts her journal and walks to Dr. Johnson's office, because that is the responsible thing to do. Or because she reached the point where she needs a person to focus her thoughts, and not just paper. Her teacher is good for that; he asks the right things.

"Professor?" He's working at the blackboard. "I told Dale I'd go with him to the dance."

"You are aware Dale lost his magic around your age." Professor doesn't look up. That's relaxing; she's never known him to offer any punishment without looking the person in the eye.

Her honesty nudges her. "I forgot, in the moment. But yes."

"You have more than enough hours this week," Dr. Johnson adds as he goes back to correct an equation, "even if it were standard practice for students to work in the libraries on their Friday evenings. I assume you are not here to apologize over that, though you may be trying to believe it so." He turns to her, eyes still a startling blue from some experiment-gone-odd. Or maybe right. She wasn't there. "Have you admitted the reason to yourself yet?" A little tic from his original language; the literal way to say figured out was admitted to yourself.

"Not until the present moment, no." She shakes her head: to emphasize the negative, to clear it. "I don't think I can be both."

Gently, "Finish the thought."

"I am not sure I can be a sexual being and a healer, concurrently, without sacrificing an important part of at least one."

"Tell the story."

Emilia's eyes focus on something not in his immaculate, airless office. "The young woman thinks she can't be both what she wants to be and what she thinks a woman is. She goes half-mad trying to choose one, but ultimately does. If she chooses to be a woman, she falls into a depression that someone close to the woman side of her--a lover, a family member, or a friend--pulls her partially out of, then she pulls herself all the way out. If she chooses what she wants to be, she discovers she wants to be a woman, too, while off on some adventure, and figures out on her own that she can be both. If the story needs added page-count, she overcompensates before settling down, and if it is a tragedy, she will never quite realize she can be both."

Her professor smiles. "Finish the thought."

Now that Emilia thinks of it, the story is a classical heroine's journey. The answer is obvious enough. "I don't want my life to be a tragedy," Emilia says dryly. "I'm going to the dance with Dale. Thanks, Professor."

"My pleasure." He turns back to the board. "Oh, and the protagonist in the tale need not be a woman." Which means, I empathize, and, Remember Dale may feel the same way, or both. Dr. Johnson is a male healing mage, and Dale had the crisis of confidence that losing something as important as one's magic brought.

She nods. "Thank you, Professor."

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