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08.20.01 11:33 p.m.

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.

 -Thomas A. Kempis 

The Return of Kate in 2D
Miss Katherine has returned. With a vengeance.
No, not really. But she is very much home.
I shall begin this sordid tale, I think, with her own words (with slight corrections for punctuation and capitalization because I have acquired anal retentive syndrome). Both for posterity's sake and because I am lazy to the point of amazement.

On Thursday me, V, Ross, and Nate drove up to Albuquerque. Spent the night in a hotel there. Purpose of trip to take Ross to the airport, where he was taking a flight back home and to take me to the bus station where I was taking a bus to CA. Friday morning we dropped Ross off at the airport. I am driving myself to the bus station and in a moment of sheer not thinking, get into a car accident. Car is undrivable and towed to car place. Everyone else fine. Me, Nate, and V hitchhike about 200 miles back to Springer, and then have a friend pick us up and take us back to Philmont. My situation: I have to pay a 500 dollar deductible on my insurance to get my car fixed. I have to pay 133 dollars for the apartment for August. I have to have a couple hundred dollars to get home on. I have about that much money, and no job (I asked for it back and they said no). What I have been doing: sleeping in the back of my friend's van and eating food that my friends that work in the department that gives out trail food get for me. Bumming rides with friends. Not going to CA because I don't have the money. Missing Ross. Wanting to get my car back and go home.

I am home. Home home home. In my house, in my old old bedroom. I just got in this afternoon after a two day bus ride. The insurance people decided that my car is totaled, so instead of getting it fixed they are giving us money for a new one. Which is OK except that I had to mail some of my things and take a bus home. So I am home early anyway. V isn't coming home until next week. [...] I haven't told anyone that I am home yet - I have mixed feelings of wanting to see everyone but wanting to wait and get some things done before I am tempted to have more fun than responsibility. But now I am telling you that I am home now, which is OK, because it's you. Plus you already know my story so I don't have to explain most of it to you. [...] feeling the grinding crunching tearing sound as a car crashes into mine and the fear that this time I have really fucked up. A lot has happened to me in the past couple of weeks - my brain is full. Call me, if you'd like. If you don't, I'll probably be calling you in the next couple of days. I'm tired right now, tomorrow I will be feeling good. My brain will be bubbling merrily instead of oozing inconsistently. It feels so goofy to be home.
So, Katie is home and we are friendly. Before I went on my vacation to Lake George with Emily (which, with any luck, will be chronicled below, but I make no guarantees), Emily, Melissa, and Liz (I may start calling the latter two MeLiza as I so rarely see one without the other) hung out with Kate at Barnes & Noble. Seeing her... it should have elicited this torrent of thought and emotion that had been stewing since she left, seasoned by her occasional letters and postcards from Philmont. But... it didn't. I gave her a sincere hug but otherwise felt little. To me, in ways I can't begin to describe, this was not Katie. Katie was a whole other species, with muscle, bone and blood I knew by scent alone.
Kate, the one I encountered at Barnes & Noble... was not. I had met this species and had no strong feelings either way. Somewhat amusing and cute, though known for their mood swings and short life spans. I... didn't love her. Not on the level I once did that transcended the words I spoke. Not as I love Conor or Sarah. Not as I love Emily, certainly. It was a new pathos I had to create for this being, more amorphous than can generally work.
I am not insulting Kate. At least I am not doing so to my way of thinking. She is. Frankly, much as this saddens me to say, I honestly feel that where she is at the moment is far closer to her path than she ever was around me and the world is truly less for it. But the world and its inhabitants cannot impose a path on another sans consent. Before Katie and I intersected as we did so many years ago, she was walking this road. I did my best to ignore it, but looking back on old letters and journal entries, I so clearly knew that the girl I loved wasn't comfortable in the skins by which I knew her. Whatever sacrifices she made in order to love me as she did, she rescinds them now. I do not fault her for this, not know that I have perspective.
I loved Katie as much as I could and I grant you I did not always render that love justice. Yet, truly, the one whom I loved so is as dead as Todd and was perhaps never as real as he.
If I may be permitted exception for want of better analogy, it reminds me, in no small way, of the vampire mythology in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I'll explain why. In this fictional realm, a vampire turns another by literally killing them. They are, truly, no longer alive in any sense of the word. You cannot speak to them ever again. Dead. However, a demon enters the victim's body through the shared blood. It takes up residence and has all of the victim's memories. But it is a wholly different entity, no longer the victim at all.
As such, I do not fault the incarnation I am currently presented with because I do not think the Katie I was with was the real one. This one may be "more" Kate than any I have previously known. Note the words "may be." I do not know the real Kate, as I think I have proven time and again. Nor, frankly, is it my problem or business to know her any deeper than she may know herself. I will let her nature unfold to herself and the world, because any other way is unnecessary and painful. She is going though some stuff, I do not deny that for a moment, but she feels that this is what is needed in her life and can't learn the lessons she seeks without these sorts of teachers and classrooms. That is her right.
The details of the day we hung out with Katie are largely unimportant or inappropriate to this forum, in my eyes. We wandered around the bookstore briefly, ate a greasy meal at IHOP, and went on a long scavenger hunt. Beyond that, it is not the issue of this topic.
I fear that, in the above paragraphs, I have painted a less than gregarious picture of the friendship between Kate and me. Perhaps this is because I expected quite a different scenario upon her return and I am in a mist as to where she and I stand. Friends, certainly. I expected stronger emotions than I am having, as I do not see her as I see some others in my acquaintanceship. I think there are issues between us but they don't matter to me except in a vague numb way. As though our history was a fantastical dream whose details have left me fuzzy about the contents of reality.
Who is she really to me that we were every anything but friends? I know we were close; intimate. But it was another life in many ways. We are both very different people. Looking at her now and knowing the little of this ashen phoenix, I cannot honestly imagine falling in love with her. Doting on her, even as she spurned and crushed me. I feel a fool and yet it is still unreal. Like when I played Lysander in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," my once painful near obsession with her seems at most like a mistake of youth. Yet it wasn't ten months ago. Too much to reconcile this night, doubtless it will be explored in the future.
No, wait, this somewhat pertains and I will share it here. I think that, seeing Kate and hearing her stories, bonded Emily and me much tighter. For... well, always... Kate existed as this force in my life. As Eileen so aptly put it, "I had begun to think there would always be some hang up on Kate ...not in a bad way or anything, just in a natural 'I'll-always-love-her' kind of way." Which I thought was to be the case. In a way it is because I love the Kate I was with. However, now I can clearly identify that my friend Kate is not the one I was in love with and I was depriving myself because I was burned in the past, something that I intellectually knew but wouldn't emotionally absorb. Also, the meeting allowed Emily to see Kate through my eyes and understood everything I had come to realize.

Lake George
Tuesday morning, my family, M and I left to go to Lake George. It is our annual vacation location and one that we quite enjoy. Emily and I had high hopes of all manners of fun, relaxing and/or expanding activities that we wanted to indulge in there. However, this was not to be as I shall explain later.
Upon arriving, we took a ferry ride around the island. It was slow and corny. I adored it for its familiarity. I could appreciate it on a new level that seemed like one I had always known. It wasn't an epiphany or a realization. It was recognition, I suppose. Subtle and calm. A good beginning to be sure, save that my mother quickly became irked with my father for spilling Pepsi on the boat's floor.
After this, we drove to our cabin, and there relaxed for a few precious moments. Then, of course, it occurred to Emily that we were lounging in small cabin when there was a beach a few hundred feet away. Doffing our clothes and donning swim suits, we frolicked (for no other word suits what we did) in the lake, dunking one another in a rather impishly carefree game.
That night at a poor buffet style dinner, Emily and I made up a very difficult scavenger hunt list in order to show her around the town until well into the night. Four hours and a dagger later, we were back at the cabin, most of our list crossed off, full of ice cream, and exhausted. Oddly, watching The Daily Show with M was one of my best memories of the day. Whenever something was funny to me, I would look over at M and see her starting to crack up. Even little nuances and really high brow jokes were not lost on her. Oh, the happiness of it all.
The following day, my father, Bryan, M and I went to Great Escape (Motto: "We were a quaint theme park until we discovered the opiate that in Pepsi sponsorship"). While the gates opened at 9:30 the rest of the park took from a half an hour to an hour and a half to follow suit, more than mildly annoying everyone. On the plus side, the petting zoo was open from the moment we entered, so Emily and I became good friends with the alpacas, one of which I ended up kissing because it was so fluffy and cute. Seriously, alpacas are highly cuddly animals. I deride those who know only the cuddles of a cat or dog. Alpacas all the way.
Near the end of the day, Emily and I decided to have caricatures of us done by the artist at the park. I had always wanted one done of Katie and me when we dated, but for one reason or another this never came to be. The caricature is very cute, though her parents later condemned it as "lacking essence" and "formulaic." Both of critiques may be valid but that doesn't lessen my enjoyment of the picture at all. The drawing is a representation of a shared moment, not just lines on a paper.
The rest of park actually flew by. Roller coasters, water rides I wasn't allowed on because of the evilness of denim shorts, conversations behind us about soap operas. Little of true note, on hindsight, save for the very Christian merchandise at the last gift shop. This threw Emily and me off quite a bit, as the park had nothing to do with Christianity otherwise. I have yet to draw conclusions about why this was, but seek the answer still. Pygmy wombats until proven otherwise.
That night we went to our big dinner. Every year there is one requisite big dinner at a very nice restaurant because, well, it is vacation and one must. We dined at the Lobster Pot, a restaurant that, I swear to you, features a lobster happily boiling itself. It even has a bib and cutlery, preparing for the moment that it can cannibalize itself. Wholesome fun!
It was at this meal that Emily and I realized that we couldn't sweet talk my mother into letting us stay the extra day. Okay, here is the deal... oh, shite... I must sleep now. I may write tomorrow. Encourage me.

last watched: Shadow of the Vampire
reading: Lasher, Anne Rice
listening: Romeo + Juliet
wanting: the Love to grow.
interesting thought: Love appears overnight or after 25 years
moment of zen: watching little yellow leaves hit the ground and feeling autumn surround me completely for a moment.
someday I must: start a journal entry early enough to say everything I need to say.

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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