Falling in Love

That’s better. That’s something I know about. We can talk about that. Falling  in  love,  I  said.  Falling  into  it,  we  all  did  then,  one  way  or another.

How could he have made such light of it? Sneered even. As if it  was  trivial  for  us,  a  frill,  a  whim.  It  was,  on  the  contrary,  heavy going.  It  was  the  central  thing;  it  was  the  way  you  understood yourself;

if it  never happened  to you,  not  ever, you would  be  like a mutant, a creature from outer space. Everyone knew that.

Falling in love, we said; I  fell  for him. We were falling  women.  We believed in it, this

downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said,  but  we  reversed  that,  and  love,  like  heaven, was  always  just around  the  corner.  The  more  difficult  it  was  to  love  the  particular man

beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.

And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, / loved you, and the tense would  be  past,  and  you  would  be  filled  with  a  sense  of  wonder, because  it was such  an  amazing  and  precarious and  dumb  thing  to have  done;  and  you  would  know  too  why  your  friends  had  been evasive about it, at the time.

There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.

Or  sometimes,  even  when  you  were  still  loving,  still  falling,  you’d wake up in the middle of the night, when the moonlight was coming through  the  window  onto  his  sleeping  face,  making the  shadows  in the sockets of his eyes darker and more cavernous than in daytime, and you’d think, Who knows what they do, on their own or with other men? Who knows what they say or where they are likely to go? Who can tell what they really are? Under their daily-ness.

Likely you would think at those times: What if he doesn’t love me?

– Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale


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