I am the Girl with the Octopus Heart. Last seen cloaked in a filmy black shroud, I haven’t heard from my Little Ticker since it went into mourning. Heartbreak must be excruciating for the octopus who has three delicate hearts. Do they all break at the same time? Do they take turns with the stronger supporting the weaker? Maybe one of the hearts never breaks. Oh, to be that lucky heart. My Curious Travelers, you may laugh at my musings over the hearts of an octopus, but did you know that there is such a thing as Broken Heart Syndrome? When a flood of stress hormones is released into the human body from a traumatic event – death, divorce, betrayal – a section of the heart will seize. The afflicted area looks like an octopus trap. This syndrome is called Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. Tako tsubo is Japanese for an urn-shaped clay pot used to capture octopuses. Lowered into the sea by wily Japanese fisherman, the unsuspecting cephalopod happily scuttles into the aquatic coffin. Rejoicing at the good fortune of finding a perfect new home to park his tentacles, the aquatic tinkerer settles in. The fisherman lugs the pot out of the water with the octopus crouching inside. For the fisherman, it’s octopus sushi time! For the eight-legged bandit, there will be no more tea parties or games of strategy.
I had happily made my underwater nest in an octopus trap, decorating the inside with all of the beautiful memories of my life. I conjured a shrine in honor of the first sweet boy to ever demonstrate his love for me. I brattily told him I did not believe that he “liked” me. To assuage my disbelief, he threatened to slam the stapler shut on his hand as a show of fealty. Escorted back to the First Grade Christmas party with his hand bandaged, I sidled up to him to witness this creature who had professed his love through sacrifice. He set a high standard for my expectations of love and worship. Seated next to him in my nest was the teenager who followed me throughout the halls of our labyrinthine school. He surprised me with fireflies in the backyard and roses in the snow. He was also guilty of the death of my innocence when he revealed jackalopes weren’t real. Then came the man who flew me around the world to gaze up at the long necks of Africa, bask in the jewel tone waters of Thailand, and witness the Sistine Chapel. He was quiet and rational and stable. And then there was the Blue Eyed Prince. He had worshiped me consumingly, madly. He called on water spirits to arrange my name in seashells in the sand, held my hand in cemeteries, and believed in my dreams without hesitation. After Santa, he was the first boy to truly break my heart. If I were an octopus, all three hearts would have collapsed under the weight of his betrayal.
I feel my home starting to drift through the ocean, inch by inch leaving the sea floor behind. It won’t be long before the fisherman pulls me in and devours my octopus heart. For my last act of revenge, I will attach my suckers to the inside of his cheek refusing to go down without a fight. I can feel him squirming.