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03.13.07 11:37 p.m.

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.  

-Anais Nin


Previously in Xenology: Xen was a geek.

Of Shakyhs and Missions

I point to the wing pendant on the shopkeeper's neck as she rings up Emily's owl and my boji stones. "Something like that?" I ask Emily, continuing a conversation we had been having earlier, where she had rejected a similar but far from identical pair of wings for being simply too cutesy, with a near pink garnet heart at the cynosure of the wings.

"Where did you get those?" Emily asks. "You don't sell them, do you?"

The woman's eyes glint. We have touched on a story she is eager to tell. "No, they aren't sold here. I found them in a tiny shop next to the grave of my shaykh in India."

"I'm going to India," Emily chirps.

"Oh," the woman continues, "my shayhk's grave is in Delhi. The darqah of Hazrat Inayat Khan."

"She is going to Delhi this summer," I add. The woman is far from offended at my continued presumption. It could be that I am letting her charge me $25 for dull gray rocks.

Within moment, the woman has scrawled out the full name of both her deceased master and his equally deceased son (Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan), including a phone number for the local Sufi center that will have more information as to the location of the grave and therefore the shop. This is well beyond the call of duty and, as we exit, I point out to Emily that she has been given a quest.

"I know, I expected something like that to happen in Woodstock," she says. There is no more talk of what it will take to complete this quest or even if it will be discharged. There are months before it could possibly come to fruition, but it is enough that it exists, that the universe is still finding chores to occupy Emily before she reaches her ultimate destiny.

I live in a world with obvious magical thinking. If called on this fact by a stranger, I am more than likely to point out that it is a much more enjoyable way of existence, but it remains that I truly do believe and follow small quests. I don't care to explain from whence these quests originally derive - that is too much like serious theology and my gods prefer I keep our relationship fairly light. There are omens in my world to be obeyed or ignored as people wish. Perhaps nothing comes of ignoring them, but I feel uneasy not listening to something that tastes of a mission to me. Often, nothing particularly notable happens when I do commit myself. In listening to Randy Milholland, I only danced with some strangers on a street in March. It made for an excellent memory, but did nothing to acquire me a new friend. Perhaps I am looking only for an excuse for my behavior, for something outside of myself, something wiser, to take the credit and blame. It is quite a lot of fun, though.

We had been in the area meeting with a caterer in his home to arrange our real wedding. Last time we attempted such planning, we had only the vague hand of Emily's friend Victor and his boyfriend, but they have since broken up. The caterer today fed Emily and me numerous small courses, his wife and partner handing me anything containing meat and Emily those that were vegetarian, as she is presently flirting with freeing her body and soul of animal flesh.

The couple handled our requests with more aplomb than they were due, particularly when we pointed out that we wanted a fairly laidback wedding and needed someone in line with what we desired. When pressed to qualify how laidback a wedding we were discussing, Emily accurately blurted, "A dirty hippy wedding." The man smiled and assured us that he could do this, content with his own quest.

Soon in Xenology: Salem.

last watched: Death of a President
reading: The Physics of the Buffyverse
listening: Reprieve

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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