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01.09.01 11:39 p.m.

"The world is divided between victims and predators, you may have to defend yourself against both."

 -Not sure.; 

NOTE: This entry was created on 3/17/01 from a letter written to Dave.
Okay, here the new situation (these things happen fast), which I am doing my best to convince myself only means I am definitely her best friend, nothing more.
Yesterday, Kate e-mailed me from England (the girl is amazing at finding internet connections. Over the summer we were at a campground that didn't even have hot water in a town that couldn't have had more than two hundred people within a 30 mile radius, but she managed to find a computer with free internet access).
Well, it was a letter sent to both her mother and to me. No, CC or BCC, just to us asking us to call her around 7 our time. So I went about my day normally, not even overly excited that I would talk to Kate soon.
After much fumbling with country codes being changed, I got through to her. She heard my voice and instantly sounded so happy. She informed everyone in the room that it was me, as though they should know me. It was a very nice conversation. She told me that she missed me very much and only took the angel off to shower. That she greatly looked forward to seeing me again (she made plans to see me when I get out of class on the 18th, which will be the day after she gets home).
Oh, and she informed me that all the boys on the trip were gay, so I needn't worry. And that she was thinking about me a lot. She told me that she had already gotten gifts for me (I offhandedly suggested in November that she wait to buy me a birthday and Christmas present until she was in England, because then it would be something unique). When I asked why she had gotten me gifts already, she said, "There are so many things here that are perfect for you." Half jokingly, I said "Only one, hun." She retorted something like "Cutie. Cheesy cutie, but cutie nonetheless." (I know I probably shouldn't say such thing, but I was raised on a diet of pseudo-romantic movies and the lines shouldn't be wasted.) She also stated that she would call me soon and we could talk for longer.
The entire conversation wasn't about our friendship and seeing each other, however. She also stated clearly that the Royal Shakespeare Company sucks, that Hamlet was amazing, that the Internet connection in the basement of the hotel was expensive, that she liked her roommate, but that she hadn't really done much fun in England yet. I urged her to have more fun exploring (I initially wrote "exploding," perhaps I should stick with it?) the London night life, but not attend any subterranean werewolf raves (I was confusing "American Werewolf in Paris" with "American Werewolf in London." How horrible of me.)
So, I think this just means that I can consider myself cemented as a best friend. Well, possibly the best friend, as she is closer (even after the break up) to me than anyone else she hangs out with.
The only real problem was, I found out it only cost me $.08/min to call London (when I was talking to her, I thought it was a dollar a minute, as that was what my mother had told me). So it wouldn't bother me at all to call her again since I am paying so little. The question is, should I call her again or is that overwhelming? I am thinking... I should call her in a few days.
I wrote her an e-mail informing her that it was so cheap for me to call her, so if she wanted, I could call her if she had something to talk about.
I'm pretty team oriented. I think I wanted Katie and me to be together against the whole world for a long time. About a year into the relationship, I realized it was two people dealing with the world separately who just loved to be together. I took that as a revelation of some kind.
Want to hear something awful? I was looking through old AOL Instant Messenger conversations for the details for a story. I found a conversation where I exactly predict what will happen between Kate and me, even to saying when it will happen, several weeks before it did.

Kate (12:14:33 AM): hi
Xen (12:14:36 AM): Hi.
Kate (12:14:46 AM): how are you?
Xen (12:15:05 AM): Ummm... worried.
Kate (12:15:21 AM): About what?
Xen (12:15:49 AM): that when I go to the mansion [the Haunted Mansion at Bowdion Park, my yearly acting gig] our relationship will fall apart.
Kate (12:16:27 AM): Why would it fall apart?
Xen (12:17:34 AM): Because you will go off on weekend long adventures without me and we will grow distant.
Kate (12:18:12 AM): I don't go away for a whole weekend very often
Xen (12:19:17 AM): Well, I fear that we will grow distant
Kate (12:19:43 AM): Well do you want to talk about it more?
Xen (12:19:58 AM): okay
Kate (12:21:00 AM): Why do you fear this?
Xen (12:21:27 AM): Cuz I am silly?
Kate (12:21:58 AM): You don't have a real reason?
Xen (12:22:26 AM): Well, it happened before... :-(
Kate (12:22:40 AM): What do you mean?
Xen (12:22:56 AM): When I was younger. Before you.
Kate (12:23:37 AM): The mansion brought you apart from someone?
Xen (12:24:10 AM): no, a trip to Europe and a psychology seminar, respectively.
Xen (12:24:35 AM): I just don't want to grow apart from you, that is the crux of the matter.
Kate (12:24:39 AM): Well that is entirely different
Kate (12:24:48 AM): Well then don't grow apart from me
Xen (12:25:04 AM): Same to you, buddy.
Kate (12:25:18 AM): Then we are settled
Xen (12:25:57 AM): Just because we say it, doesn't make it true. But it is good that we will try not to.
Kate (12:26:30 AM): That is all we really can do.
Xen (12:27:35 AM): I suppose. Other than sharing every important event.
Kate (12:29:07 AM): We'll be okay hun. It is the sign of a good relationship to be able to pursue our own interests
Xen (12:29:31 AM): just so long as they aren't destructive interests.
Kate (12:30:10 AM): well destructive is something else entirely
Xen (12:30:25 AM): ya
Kate (12:30:46 AM): ja

Gods, I wish I would have been psychic about something else. And she uses the same argument that I used immediately after the break-up: "It is the sign of a good relationship to be able to pursue our own interests." Oh, well, best not to dwell on it, I suppose. I haven't cried over Katie at all in the past couple days. I love her and I miss her, but I'm okay.
Onto other events in my life. A girl that I briefly dated when I was 15 just had her second daughter. Even though she now lives in Plattsburg, she still considers me one of her friends and informs me through normal mail when something is happening in her life.
A bit over a year ago, she invited me to the baby shower for her yet to be born child (the shower was local, so I went). Upon meeting Katie, she decided that she wanted to name her first daughter after Kate. One meeting, not even a particularly deep one, and Katie earned a namesake.
Anyway, that's not really the most important thing. Just that someone I once made out with at a church dance is now leading the life of a housewife, settled down in Plattsburg. I feel very old. Other friends are getting nice jobs as computer programmers, counselors at youth homes, managers of outlet store... I go to Dutchess and make my $6.50 an hour at their library. And I want to go to college for as long as I can. Some of my friends are getting engaged, and I am trying to cling to the remaining thread of my relationship with Kate.
I don't mind waiting for these things, but it is uncomfortable to watch these people beginning serious lives when they once tried to emulate Beavis or cause trouble for mall security. My brain can't accept that these people now hold seat of influence or are raising the next generation. No no NO!
Onto even more news (though less interesting, possible), last week, I went to the mall to get Tidal. (Don't worry; the story has nothing to do with the CD, except it gives me a reason for being at the mall.)
The first time I went, I could not find it for under $20, so I didn't get it. I ended up walking into Trading Post in hopes of finding something interesting to buy. Instead, the clerk at the register said, "You are the one having girlfriend problems?" I looked at her and stated that I was and asked how she knew that. Evidently, last time I was in the mall (at least three weeks ago), she overhead me talking about it. She then stated that she had been watching me for a very long time and always wanted to talk to me but never knew how.
I'm not sure why I did, but I ended up pouring the entire Katie saga into this girl's ear. And she cared. I was perfectly aware that she was trying to pick me up, but I was shocked that she cared. And I kept talking. I even suggested that, since she lived in my town, I could drive her home.
We drove to a diner on the way, where I kept telling her of the Katie saga and other little stories from my life. This lass seemed firmly intrigued. The only time she made me the least bit uncomfortable is when we were leaving the diner and she felt the need to say, "You're hot." Silly me, I almost protested that I was actually a little cold, but my coat did a good job keeping me warm. Then I understood what she was saying. I gave her the look a caged medical testing animal must give when it sees a person and squeaked out, "You're not so bad yourself?"
Had she not done this, I would have liked her a lot more. I don't dislike her, but she made her intentions very plain right then and I realized that, despite my going off on how much I am in love with Miss Katherine, she might presume that my taking her home would lead to less than gentlemanly actions. And they definitely were not. So I politely drove her home, she thanked me for an amazing evening (?), and got out of my car.
Whew! Crisis averted. I'm sure in the normal world, most guys would be thrilled that an attractive woman said they were hot and insinuated a different end to the evening. I wasn't. I was scared and awkward. Dating isn't something I wanted, even before I pledge myself to Katie.
Well, all that wasn't so bad, accept that Shelly (for that is the girl's name) hasn't answered my e-mail and I wish she would so I wouldn't feel that I just used her as a sounding board.
The next day, one of my friends cancelled plans with me, so I ended up going to the mall with my mom so I could finally pick up my Fiona Apple CD. She insisted that I not take my car, as it would be silly to take two cars when hers would do. So I went in her car. I got the CD for a decent price.
I was just about to leave with my mom when I heard a girl screaming my name. So I spun around and there stood a girl I had known in high school. She invited me to join her and her friends at a coffeehouse and she would drive me home. I had nothing else planned for that night and knew that this girl had a boyfriend, so I agreed figuring she was not making any designs on me.
Well, I quickly found out that she had no interest in me, but her friend (whom I do not believe I had ever met before) wanted to "get with me." I informed the high school acquaintance that I did not date.
I know she relayed my message to her friend, but I was still uncomfortable for most of the night, until I was driven home at midnight. So, I am henceforth completely avoiding the mall unless I need to make a purchase. Then I will dash in, make the purchase, and dash out. No talking to people, no looking back if I hear my name screamed.

reading: Fiona Apple lyrics
listening: "Never is a Promise"
wanting: to avoid the mall and not me wanted by strangers
interesting thought: I don't need an interesting thought to amuse most people

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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