Disclaimer: this post was written very late at night when the portal to subconscious Lisa brain was open. Sometimes weird, emotional stuff comes out when that happens.
I think it was my senior year of high school, and I was sitting on a swing in the park next to my friend, Nicole, while she explained her philosophy on categorization of love. Not romantic love, as you may expect high school girls to talk about, but love of people in general, of friendship and acquaintances.
“There is dog love and cat love,” she said, “with dog love it is very intense but always predictable. You see your friend and are so excited that you can barely contain yourself, and you run round and round each other and run around the yard together and wrestle and rub each other’s bellies and fall asleep next to one another. Then you leave and go do your own things, but when you see each other again, it is just as intense and outpouring. In a way, it is more simple.”
“Cat love is different,” she went on, “cat love is more wrapped up in emotions and is more complex, and maybe there are issues and mysterious deflections and you don’t quite know where you stand. People scorn cats for this. But when you achieve it, when you have someone curl up inside your heart, then it has great depth. Other people don’t understand why it’s even worth it, this love, but you do, when you have it. Maybe you only have some people who you love like cats.”
I remember nodding along and thinking that in spite of its oversimplifications on both fronts, was a pretty good metaphor (for high school anyway). It’s stuck around in my memory ever since.
I have dog and cat phases for how I love the world. Those of you who have known me for a long time have probably seen how I shift between the two over time.
I’m in a dog phase right now.
You can see the transition the most on twitter, where I once sat in a long cat phase of quiet auto-posting of doodles and lurking in the corner, watching and contemplating, but focusing mostly on charging myself from the inside.
Then the dog phase happened. I started getting very curious about people, especially other game developers. I started sniffing around and barging into conversations. I’ve been running circles around people and trying to play with them until they play with me in return. I want to touch noses with everyone, and have a great outpouring of love that I try to staunch by shoving people into my heart. Wag wag wag!
It is a happy time, and I don’t mind it. I’d rather be overwhelmed with love for the world than overwhelmed with sadness over the terrible things that exist. But it is exhausting.
Contrary to popular belief, I am, in fact, an introvert. People leech the energy out of me, and the more people there are the faster I deplete. And yet, I am very curious about people, and very nosy, and I love to circle around people and burrow into their hearts and see what they’re all about and when I say hello to you I’m probably really saying “I love you,” just based on how delighted I am in my observations of who you present yourself to be. And it’s very exhausting and I spend up all my batteries on that.
I know the dog phase won’t last forever, but I enjoy it so. Now, while the cat phase is more reserved and more complex, it is not a bad phase. There is still great love, but it is focused and burning and recharging and very deep in the very core of my heart instead of flowing all over the place. Perhaps even a person with whom I touch noses in the dog phase will end up being a person whose heart I curl up inside and sit quietly within during the cat phase. There is no way of telling.
But when I do inevitably retract and become more reserved, do not be alarmed or sad. There is still great love. I will have just had to burrow deep for awhile and nest and refuel. I’ll see you again and we can play, don’t worry.
I love you!