Did you know that the human eye and the octopus eye are near-identical in form, despite having developed independently after the divergence of the species? You’d know it if you’d ever looked into one. There is feeling there. Strange and, at times, cold, but a commonality none the less. More than a commonality in some cases. Convergent evolution, they call it. Two beings meet after seven hundred million years, unrecognisably altered but able, still, to exchange shy glances through the glass.
My family tried to have me committed when I began expanding Oscar’s habitat. There was a whole battery of tests to get through. ‘Am I here because I love my octopus?’ I eventually asked after three hours of timid questions, and the doctor had the decency to look embarrassed. Note that I avoided saying ‘in love’. The thing about tests is that you’ve got to know the answers they’re looking for.
What was originally a modest hundred square foot tank now occupies roughly half the house. Many of the interior walls have been replaced by ceiling-height glass separating our spaces. Oscar can’t come into my half, of course, but I have many trapdoors into his. His main living tank abuts my bedroom, but in every room there are windows of glass so we can be together.
People talk about soulmates. About finding one another amongst all those others. What luck! A human found another human to love. Nature practically guaranteed it. Just pick out a specimen with the right parts at your local coffee shop. How much more momentous to have discovered love across the boundaries of sea and land, of lungs and gills, of beak and tongue! If convergent evolution has gifted us these eyes of common expression, why not souls to mirror in our homoplastic lenses? Does Oscar have a soul? Who knows. Do I? All that matters is our time here — in this house, in this moment. Our convergence.