“The world had shrunk by then to become them.” -Noy Holland, Bird, in describing lovers
This one scares me. One of the wonders of love–of sex–is how it redefines the world, how it obsesses, how it makes a universe of one touch or one room or one song you’re singing together. Each touch, each room, each song probably is that deep, so love’s (lust’s?) obsession doesn’t lie to us. It tells the truth: here, just here, is everything.
As far as I can tell, that’s true–and that’s a lie. That’s one of the gifts love gives, and that’s one of the curses it casts. There is so much outside of “them,” of “us,” even if “us” means lovers. There are the friends we each have and the work we each do and the ways we affect the world. Even that phrase, “the world,” is one of these loving, shrinking redefinitions: when I say “the world” (as in, “the end of the world”) I often mean more than just this planet. I mean everything. I know (at least intellectually) that there’s more out there, but I love this rock, with its blues and its greens. And so the universe shrinks to become Earth.
All that makes this question sound abstract, but for me, it isn’t. When I’m falling into romantic love, I want to fall in deep. I want to hold her and listen to her and look at her. I want–or part of me wants–the world to shrink to become just us. If I do that, I discover something: the depth of a moment, the realization of a touch, the glimpse of another. If I do that, I’m worried I lose something: everything that was outside of just us. I think there must be a rhythm that includes both: a kind of heartbeat that balances a shrinking world, intense, intimate, involved, and an expanding one, inconclusive, opening. But my heart doesn’t seem to have learned how to beat like that quite yet.