My first true love was not the girl down the street who rode her bike past my house, dark hair loose and flowing in the wind looking like a goddess, even though I didn’t know the real meaning of goddess at the time: I was four and she was 12.
My first true love was science. Family myth has it that my first word was not mumsy or daddy and not one word at all but a few words that sounded an awful lot like scientific enquiry: what? how? why? when? let me try that, and, prove it!
In spite of this love, I did not follow a life in science in any substantive manner. I suppose life, (are you ready for this??) with its repeatability; complete with the lesbian tribal rumour mill peer reviews, consternation over statistically significant occurrences, standard deviations within a data set of cute lesbian twins in the Canadian Prairies, or the need to smooth the outliers or huge deviations (gotta love deviations) that pop up; together with the testing and retesting of variations, (with FULL cognizance of the danger of the use, abuse and ignorance of De Moivre’s equation, and how numeracy and specifically statistical literacy is falling faster than some lesbians fall into bed with straight women) … but I digress.
Living a life could be considered the ultimate longitudinal double blind, randomized study of the sometimes inscrutible psychological behaviour of a single human bean, if one considers anything about the internal goings-on in a thinking human bean subject to any natural laws of science or if psychology is a science or natural at all or just a really, really cool game of ‘Oh, It Depends‘ and I am not talking adult diapers, either.
Since we’re talking studies: extrapolating findings to the general public from results of studies of what college kids say they do, or how they are observed to behave or how they self report on their behaviour is frightfully misleading. Do the math:
H(ormones)+A(way from home)+ H2(helicopter parents)+ Y(AY! I’m free to have sex, alcohol and drugs and be a new me) = CAB(Confused Aberrant Behaviour ).
While CAB exists in the general population to some degree, its pandemic nature within the uniquely heated petri dish culture of college makes some study findings suspect. Specially if it’s a focus, (hocus pocus) group study finding.
Anyway, in spite of a deep and abiding love of science, I did not pursue it and so I indulge my interest in other ways, including reading about it and applying the scientific method to things around me. But I’m bad at it. I’m no scientist. I don’t formulate hypotheses since I prefer the process of discovery first and then applying the scientific method to my discovery. However, it serves me well, my process. I have proven with absolute irrefutable proof and an astonishing range of amazing bodies of evidence that I am a lesbian.
Discovery. Repeated testing. Then testing again just to be sure. Different places, different test bodies, same result = Proof positive.
Did I say that I love science?
So, imagine how thrilled I was when Science Daily reported in late October that “a new meta-analysis study by Professor Stephanie Ortigue reveals falling in love can elicit not only the same euphoric feeling as using cocaine, but also affects intellectual areas of the brain. Researchers also found falling in love only takes about a fifth of a second.”
It’s a badly written paragraph, but that’s some science reporting for you. Is it saying love is like a drug? Didn’t Roxy Music sing that out loud that like, a hundred years ago?
The study showed that “when a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain work in tandem to release euphoria-inducing chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression.”
I’m still shocked about the time phenomenon: a fifth of a second? How long is that, exactly, in lesbian time? And 12 areas of the brain? Working together? As in a cooperative, collective? How lesbian of it.
Apparently, “the love feeling also affects sophisticated cognitive functions, such as mental representation, metaphors and body image.”
Had me at sophisticated cognitive functions. Honestly. Who wouldn’t love a woman with sophisticated cognitive functions?
Sometimes it’s flattering to be interviewed depending on the subject. And because it’s flattering and because most people, women in particular, are conditioned to be helpful, people feel compelled to answer the interviewer’s questions, rather than say, we don’t know that yet, or what a dumb question. So when asked if it’s the brain or heart that falls in love, the study’s lead researcher played good PR sport and gave a namby-pamby response so as to be inclusive for both brain and heart. Another great lesbian attribute.
“That’s a tricky question always,” says Ortigue. “I would say the brain, but the heart is also related because the complex concept of love is formed by both bottom-up and top-down processes from the brain to the heart and vice versa. For instance, activation in some parts of the brain can generate stimulations to the heart, butterflies in the stomach. Some symptoms we sometimes feel as a manifestation of the heart may sometimes be coming from the brain.”
If I were interviewed, I would NOT have used the word related. Or Bottom up and top down. But no-one asked me.
Perhaps it’s just me but I find that the study offers a glimpse of clarity: the proliferation of butterfly conservatories make sense now; the incredible lesbian subsidization of U-Haul franchises; the skip to my Lou, lesbian lover-hopping tribal dinner parties, and the old-fashioned lesbian side-step where friends become lovers, or partners switch partners, because of some ancient belief that it’s hard to fall in love again with someone you think you know well when it’s SO much more exciting and thrilling with someone new.
The implications of this work are enormous. And it shows that sometimes science can answer questions or prove what we suspect.
Life changes fast.
We can be hit hard. Drugs and butterflies. Powerful, crazy hormonal intoxicants.
That’s falling in love. Do or do not do, says Yoda.
Seems that falling in love has the same impact as many mood and mind-altering substances and can result in some of the same crazy biological behaviours, like not being able to be vertical and think clearly about just what’s going on, of being swamped and swarmed by that straight woman, that one who’s sleeping with TWO women, one of whom is you who’s never been in love like this before, even though said straight woman disavows wanting to be a lesbian and is not going to leave her husband or children or her straight, financially comfortable life for the wildly exciting and soon-to-be-heartbroken-lesbian that is you.
THAT — heartbreak — is the subject a future study.