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" The Risk It Takes | 2008 | Diary of the Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Dead "

04.20.08 9:00 a.m.

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like "maybe we should be just friends" turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.  

-Neil Gaiman


Flight of the Concord

Melanie says meeting me made her stop believing in the idea of a one true love. She'd spent four months prior sighing over her first serious boyfriend, Kevin. When she began speaking with me, her mooning waned. Even before she met me in person, I'd extinguished this solitary romantic notion in the woman-child I would come to love.

When Kate broke up with me more than eight years ago, she got her own website for her writing and posted a poem, a line of which read to the effect "and I realized (having just gotten out of a relationship) that I no longer have to believe in love". This isn't what Melanie intends. I have, if anything, made her believe in love. Knowing me has made her soft and sweet and cute, all conditions she previously associated with the weakness of femininity. Now, she sees them as virtues - albeit virtues she can exploit as needed to get what she wants from others. I'm flattered, though I have not believed in one true love for a very long time, a decade. I believe in many true loves throughout one's life. If one is lucky, compatibility extends.

I had assumed I had perennial congruity with Emily, though it would be rather depressing now if she were intended to be my one true love (no matter what a voodoo priest explicitly told her a year ago when she had doubts, no matter that she referred to me instantly as the man with whom she was going to spend the rest of her life). I grew to love her more and we grew together, as far as I was concerned. I trusted her perhaps too much and turned over the reins of my destiny to her too often because of it.

I'm finding greater concordance with Melanie. She has rare bouts of cutting sarcasm and rigidity that I can't yet process properly, but these are far from toxic and are handled effectively between us. The wonder of our relationship, the honesty and affection, far outweighs the fact that she is coping with a lot in addition to weekends in my arms. In the midst of growing up and growing wiser, I can love her with little effort. (I hate having to struggle to love, it goes against my soul.)

My romanticism is ever at odds with my Taoism. I love and I know I love and that is it. I don't act like an addict, itching my arms in need of another fix. I know what is to be just is to be. Simply "Oh, and now I love, how nice". It is a heart shaped rock dropped in the river and I will flow all over it. But I won't be addicted. I love rationally, reasonably. I can calmly enumerate how I love, where I love, why I love, when I love. It can be engulfing, love being a tenet of my hodgepodge religion. I don't twitterpate long. There is ever the flapping of butterflies, the frequent "oh wow" but I'm not fatuous. I'm not superficial about the love. Even when I was crushing on Jenn, I was very consciously saying that I was having a rebound crush on her because she wouldn't let me rebound crush on anyone.

If I were addicted to love, a challenge I have heard laid against me in whispers, I could not handle having loved a wanderer who let the freedom to roam become an excuse never to come back. I couldn't remotely stomach the idea of three months away from my newest and shiniest love, though I can't say I wholly cotton to the idea. The Tao lets me hold them lightly, understand that I cannot possess or control a person and it is a sin to try. The Tao lets me breathe and flow into and around them to make a complement.

Soon in Xenology: Beltane. Zombies.

last watched: Blair Witch Project
reading: The Illuminatus! Trilogy
listening: The Sophtware Slump

" The Risk It Takes | 2008 | Diary of the Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Dead "

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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