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12.07.06 10:51 p.m.

Don't believe in abortion? Don't understand gay people? Sexuality make you rashy? Think Harry Potter teaches kids evil and witchcraft? Don't marry a sexy gay witch abortionist. But don't you dare, based on your limited understanding of God and life, make laws declaring that I can't.  

- Mark Morford


Previously in Xenology: Xen applied for jobs. Then he got one that required moving and a wife.


I tell her I have to search for the right analogy.

"No, no more analogies," protests Emily. "Just say what you mean."

"But analogies are what I mean... and this one is good." I take a forkful of sub par food court Chinese food into my mouth to give myself time to extend the analogy to its limits and check for fractures. The mall food court while fuzzy on cold medicine is not the ideal situation for this discussion on marriage and compatibility, but we do not always have the privilege of choosing when these conversations have us.

"You are a solid. You are intensely in your space and having this experience. We could put you in a bowl or beaker, but you would remain in this experience, this shape. Nothing short of boiling is going to make you move until you are done processing. As a result, you feel thing more intensely than most anyone, since it is so concentrated. I am much more a gas, scattered everywhere and pulling from dozens of experiences. I only need the breeze to shift and be having a new experience, or this one from a new angle. This is why I joke, because I very quickly - and sometimes, I'll grant, inappropriately - see the humor in things. But we have high reactivity together and complement one another perfectly, catalyzing something better than our parts. Synergy." Emily does not disagree with my assessment and I wonder if I have been pulling too heavily on the science audio book to which I've been listening of late.

We'd just come from trying on gold bands for our frozen beach side ceremony on the 23rd. We'd only entered the jewelry store because Keilaina's sister Katelin was behind the counter and looked at the rings on a relevant whim, but we selected a mismatched pair (what better kind?) and had them put aside for us until we could afford them.

There have been stresses to this nuptial process. Members of Emily's clan, for example, told her that they would have nothing to do with our union, since a few members took quiet offense at one of my entries. When, after a week of there becoming aware and talking about it and me at length, a proxy appointed by the other clan members actually wrote me a letter and I replied in kind a few times, sincerely apologizing if it caused offense and trying to remedy the situation, I was treated sarcastically and stonewalled, so I took the unsubtle hint and removed myself from the situation as best I could. (Those in the clan who agree with my right to my public and erstwhile positive thoughts and feelings about the event won't say so to the rest to preserve unity; if one person has a problem with me, everyone does. As such, I shall stick to the anonymous "they", for its likely truth despite grammatical inaccuracy.)

Frankly, this isn't how I would have it. Prior to this, I respected them all and liked several clan members as friends. I certainly have no interest in demonizing them now; they are fine, flawed people. I would not have let myself get as close as I did and open myself up for the opportunity to get hurt if I did not believe and appreciate this. Even now, I do not think they are bad in the least, I just do not agree with their actions in this specific situation. If you read the offending entry, you can easily see that I was trying very hard to open myself up to the clan and felt more a part of their group, therefore making the resultant actions all the more stinging. I removed myself not only to prevent a needless conflict from escalating in hope that future cooler heads would prevail - and heads have yet to be cool enough - but because I was genuinely wounded by the callousness of their chosen emissary.

I am concerned that they snub Emily because they have personal issues with me. I do not care if they choose to hold a grudge after I apologized - that is their prerogative and I feel I have done what was required - but I care deeply if they take it out on Emily, who has been utterly loyal and who takes her religion very seriously. Her clan is essential to her and she has her oaths, which I respect entirely.

She and I have discussed - some sharpness of tonality and resultant tears may safely be implied here - what is to be done. She does not wish for me to make myself unduly uncomfortable, to bow and scrape; on this point we are certainly in agreement. If I did, I doubt it would do any good and would be disingenuously slimy. Yet what is she to do when these people are pointedly neglecting her, not returning her calls or involving her in activities? It weighs on her soul. She was my editor and proofreader for the offending entry and subsequent letters until I was shut down and she marked them all acceptable, revisions and outright deletions preventing anything but the calmest truth from my end, ripe with "I-statements". She even told me of post-publishing revisions that she wanted me to make to minimize the damage, and for which I understood the need in hindsight. I have tried to make this as easy as I can - it is hellish to be trapped in a squabble between her partner and clan - while still making myself understood. She stated that she dealt with clan functions without me by her side before I tried to get involved and she will just have to relearn how she did it. I wish she didn't have to, but that is not for me to decide right now. I do not mark them unwelcome in my life, but the inverse can't be said.

Another fount of annoyance is the institutional raping we are taking at the fists of our present apartment complex, who feel justified in demanding over three months' rent for leaving before our lease expires despite our requisite advanced notice. Emily advises that we just have to deal with the loss of thousands of dollars for nothing, that this is how things are done. Things are done this way only because they can get away with it. If we live in Chelsea Ridge, we obviously have neither the means nor wherewithal to fight.

Yet I am thrilled to be marrying Emily, even so soon as this month and even so extemporaneously. I had some fear of getting married before it was thrust upon me, as did Emily, who has far better reasons to have commitment issues. As I am sure I have said, it is not a marriage I fear - how long have I been in one? - but some lavish spectacle that becomes the focal point of our relationship for months. This graduated marriage - cohabitation now, then a ceremony with requisite jewelry exchange, and the spectacle and honeymoon at some later date - is the best relationship I've ever known. It is the slow wading until I am surrounded (by which point I am well acclimated) rather than the cannonball run.

Emily has said that we need to work on our "we-ness", echoing I do not know whom. It does not sound like her, however. Her statement was revealed to mean that we are independent. She can go off to India, I can spend all Saturday in my bathrobe writing and the other is fine with it. This is largely because we have three lives, much as some couples have three bank accounts: his, hers, and ours. The three don't have to constantly feed into each other (though I think many couples would agree the flow is usually from "his and hers" to "ours") but they do. Our lives are deeply entangled, but we retain our identities. So often in adolescent relationships, this is not the case. What's mine is mine and what's yours is mine, too. Your girlfriend goes to a party and she is spending your relationship capital on herself. Even if you wouldn't have wanted to go to that party anyway, you feel as though you were forced to as you sit alone and grumble. The point so many miss, the point I have missed and repented so many times in the past, is that she is not you. She is her own person leading her own life and if you don't totally screw it up, she'll let you keep being a part of it. Read that again. A part of it, not all of it. If your partner says that you are their whole life and truly means it, do both of you a favor and buy her a latch hook rug kit or introduce her to a book club. All we should ever want of a partner is to be a part of their day, a frequent thought that makes them smile. If you want some doting whelp standing naked at the door, waiting anxiously for your return, I will be forced to remind you that you are confusing a mate with a dog. Again.

Emily and I are united in cause and in life, but it is two industrious and clever people operating together instead of incomplete halves clinging to the whole. We succeed because we know and adore the separateness of the other. Though she does, she doesn't need to worry that I will become desolate in her absence. I am secure enough in myself to have a full life in her absence and securer still in the fact that I do not have to.

Soon in Xenology: Moving. Marriage.

last watched: Akeelah and the Bee
reading: Goodbye, Columbus
listening: Tidal

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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