…our night, the date palms, esparto grass,
and the old river
where lemon leaves on the water drift.
They are green like water
like your eyes, I say.
∆ Saadi Youssef, from ‘Night in Hamdan’, Without an Alphabet, Without a Face: Selected Poems (trans. Khaled Mattawa)
It is six in the morning. There is only a free dog hesitating on the beach, a black dog. Why is a dog so free? Because it is the living mystery that doesn’t wonder about itself.
| Clarice Lispector, The Waters of the World
Imagine if you could say to a casual partner, “I love you. It’s no big deal. It doesn’t mean you’re The One, or even one of the ones. It doesn’t mean you have to love me back. It doesn’t mean we have to date, or marry, or even cuddle. It doesn’t mean we have to part ways dramatically in a flurry of tears and broken dishes. It doesn’t mean I’ll love you until I die, or that I’ll still love you next year, or tomorrow.”
Then later, perhaps over brunch, you could tackle the question of whether there’s anything to do about it. All of the aforementioned - dating, marriage, cuddling, etc - are options, and there are an infinite number of other options (Skee ball, sailing around the world, double suicide). These are all things you can now choose or not choose, as two conscious, adult human beings. The important distinction is that none of them is implied just by saying the word “love”.