love is attention to detail
i finished reading an enlarged heart today. i wandered through cynthia zarin's essay collection for two weeks, savouring her warm and dreamy prose. it's extremely detailed. i liked reading about these details because i like learning about the different types of people and objects that people grow fond of throughout their lives. it was as beautiful as it was infuriating, though. i skipped three essays because i felt she wasn't moving on. even while reading the ones i enjoyed, i was constantly thinking: "what's your point?"
while reading her book i learned that i am like zarin. we are both women preoccupied with the passage of time, and we both pay attention to detail. whenever i liked someone i told all my friends about them, unprompted. i'm that friend who takes up too much space in the conversation to gush about moments and people that don't mean a lot to the person i'm talking to. i don't think A and D actually care all that much about the details of this boy i love, only how i feel about him. earlier, before writing this, i was standing at the marble countertop in my kitchen, slicing oranges on a blue cutting board, watching the movement of my neighbours and pet cats in their backyards through the corner of my eye. i started to understand why zarin wrote the way she did when i began to write, in my head, how i would remember this moment of citrus delight. these are the things that people do when they're in love. they talk about the important people in their lives and get precious over peeling oranges. they step outside and suddenly trees look divine. waking up to birdsong becomes a gift. they start seeing beauty everywhere. in the periphery, and in front of them.
love reorients people towards beauty. that's why an enlarged heart feels excessively sentimental: it is about a woman in love with life.
each time i pick up a new book i feel myself slowly becoming the person who wrote it. my friend emily put it well: “sometimes people bleed into you so much that you start expressing things in their voice instead of yours." zarin talked about apartments, coats, children, husbands, chinese restaurants, and beaches in italy. it took me two weeks to finish reading her book. that was enough time for me to start writing about bus rides, coffee percolating through milk foam, and sliced cucumbers for my chirashi bowl with the same care and precision that she tended to her life's retelling with. it is by particularizing the ordinary that people begin to fall in love with life.
between artists, writers, and lovers, the common denominator is that they are attentive to detail. the artist spent half an hour staring at impressionist paintings on a tumblr blog before taking a walk around their neighbourhood and realizing that they can, once again, discern between the colours of the houses along the street. the writer listened to a conversation between two people at the park wearing outfits too different from each other for a relationship to be likely, as they looked for a bench to rest their lower backs. the mental note they made was this is how strangers talk to each other. the lover maps out your routine, the shape of your body, the contours of your moral nerve, wanting to know everything, but at the same time, hoping that the mystery of who you are is like a fractal - never-ending.
what i’m trying to say is that love sometimes doesn’t have a point the way a story is expected to. it demands nothing. not a narrative, not a climax, not insight. instead, love is expanded awareness. love is the infinite game that everyone wants to play. love fools us while being one of the few things that pulls us closer, so much closer, to truth.