Have you ever had a feeling that you just can’t shake, a feeling that makes you want to walk down the street singing emo songs at the top of your lungs and then go sit in the corner and eat a tub of iced cream with your baseball hat on backwards? Me too.
The last time this happened I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I conjured the spirit of Giovani Boccaccio (otherwise known as that-Italian-guy-who-wrote-the-Decameron). Now, I won’t go into the details of how the process works (suffice to say it involves a rubber-band, thirty-two matchsticks, and a poster of Asia Argento). Anyway, Boccaccio showed up and the following is a transcript of our conversation. Enjoy.
LC: Hi Boccacccio। How is everything with you?
Boccaccio: Well, not too bad considering.
Boccaccio: Yeah, considering that I’m dead and you conjured me away from my eternal rest.
LC: Sorry about that। The thing is I have this strange feeling, like everything’s great and everything’s terrible at the same time। Are these the symptoms of being in love?
Boccaccio: No they are not. I mean not quite. What you have there is a case of unfulfillable longing.
LC: What do you mean?
Boccaccio: Well, It’s not quite love, but it is very similar. In fact there are those who say the difference really only depends on how the whole thing plays out over time. Y’know, if your longing is ultimately fulfilled, then it wasn’t unfulfillable. Some people even claim that they are the same. But I say that there is a slight difference. You see, one can feel unfulfillable longing about many things, though it is mostly women.
LC: What is this Unfulfilable Longing? I haven’t heard of it before.
Boccaccio: It can’t really be defined. The best I can do is give you an example. Say, for instance, you are standing outside the Università degli Studi di Milano. You are perfectly at ease with yourself and you are talking with a friend of yours when a young woman walks by. You know this woman. She is a friend of yours but she walks by without stopping. Maybe she is in a hurry or maybe she doesn’t want to interrupt your conversation, whatever. You notice how beautiful she is in her high boots and her winter coat. It occurs to you that you have always found her to be beautiful. You just never thought about it until now.
Your friend continues to babble on about quadratic equations or some other nonsense, but you don’t even hear him anymore because all of your thoughts are with this lovely lady as you watch her walk away down the sidewalk, toward a little footbridge. See her now, how lithe her walk, how quiet her footfalls, as if she were already half-way into heaven. You ache for her beauty and then you ache for her, to speak with her and hear about her day, to know how she feels and what she thinks. Then you realize that you do know these things. You are aware of her on a level that you didn’t know existed before this day. But she’s getting farther away now, and when she turns and walks over the little footbridge, you remember that she wants to get a kitten. And that’s when it hits you, unfulfillable longing, an emptiness and a fullness in your soul. You know that whatever happens next, you will never be the same as you once were.
LC: Wow. That’s deep. So what’s the cure?
Boccaccio: There isn’t one. The only thing you can do is go listen to some emo and eat a tub of iced-cream in the corner. Also drink some wine.
LC: You’re not very helpful. It’s like you haven’t told me anything I didn’t already know.
Boccaccio: That’s interesting.
LC: No it isn’t