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Seasonal Affective | 2009 | In Bloom

05.13.09 3:54 p.m.

My mind is a garden. My thoughts are the seeds. My harvest will be either flower or weeds.  

-Mel Weldon



I return to our gray plastic table at the Cupcake Festival and say, "The girl at the register likes me." As I say this, she looks over, her aqua eye shadow making it seem that she doesn't blink as much as open a new pair of eyelids. She smiles, silently reaffirming my statement to my friends. She seems young enough to have been my student.

Melanie cuddles into me and says, "Because this is obviously what you are hoping for by saying that." While I delight in the end result, I do not need to seek it under false pretenses.

"What? No. I don't say things with insidious intentions. I say things because I say things, without really thinking about them. Like, 'oh, your hat is red!' Jacki will back me up. Guileless!" I look to Jacki for confirmation, but she opts to sit my defense out, having been unfortunately privy to the time in my life when this manifested as my being an ungodly flirt.

I don't think of myself as the sort to deal in either side of jealousy, even in situations where it would have been to my benefit. I lost my high school girlfriend to my then (or, more accurately, six month prior) best friend because I refused to be jealous of their preexisting friendship. Similarly, at the end of 2007, my fiancée left me for her friend to whom she swore a certain annoyance and emotional revulsion - thereby securing my trust to spend dozens of nights in his apartment while she attended New York University. If one functions in a relationship only by suspecting one's partner, it is less a romance than a hostage situation. And, at the most selfish, it is a massive waste of mental energy I could better spend. pretty much how we react to other people

Still, and though it is ridiculous, I feel a twinge at the unlikely big brother/little sister dynamic between Daniel and Melanie while at the fair. She turns to speak to have teasing conversation, addressing him exclusively as "Danny" (an affectation Jacki briefly adopts, then abridges to Dan), that seems overly fond. She is his Itty Bitty, even if he never calls her this. It's implied. As genuine threats go, he ranks just below Jacki, which is to say that it is understood there is a certain charm that falls far short of specific sexual relevance. I am unused to Melanie's interaction with people outside of my apartment by her own inclination - she would much rather be snuggled against me, watching bad movies and television on her weekends - and more so with people whom she concedes are technically somewhat attractive.

When we pursue dinner at a sushi bar, the twinge revives as Melanie turns to have a long conversation with Daniel. Owing to the construction of the bar, one can only hear and speak to the person directly next to them without leaning awkwardly. In my corner, as their conversation stretches, I begin scribbling seeds of this entry, moping passive-aggressively over my spicy tuna rolls. When Melanie notices this, she leans back so I can be a part of their discussion of economic ecology for a few moments, seeking to include me even when I have nothing to contribute to the conversation beyond my ignorance.

Finally, as we are driving home later, she asks me what is wrong (because I am utterly transparent in my moods). I say nothing is really wrong, that I am just being foolish. She asks if she did something wrong. I state precisely my concern, prefacing it by admitting that I know I am being absurd. As she must and as she feels, she reminds that she is one hundred percent for me and I needn't ever worry, calling me Silly Bou for emphasis. I know this, jealousy comes from a place of irrationality and failed pattern recognition, from a discomfort about her imminent departure from New York and my utter vulnerability in loving her totally and unashamedly. She gives me no real reason to be jealous, least of all her sororal affection for our thirty-something friend with the silver teeth. Why not show the readers what we mean by 'cupcakes'?

What is especially hypocritical about these twinges is that they began on a spring day at a fair in proximity to a college town; the street abounded with lovely "cupcakes" covered in light sundresses or tight blouses. I notice attractive women, as does Melanie (who occasionally chirps "tits!" a trifle too loudly), and we lightly lust as a kind of sport. She, even less the eight additional years of romantic experience I have, knows she has nothing to be concerned about; she is superior to any of them. Even so, she still gets cutely irritable when I am scoping out new friends on the internet, as she, too, prefers her lover's attentions undivided.

Despite how this entry makes it seem, the twinges account for maybe three percent of our interaction this day, the rest being quick kisses in secluded corners of an antique shop, her whispering starkly erotic things in my ear as we are walking through verdure with Jacki and Daniel, suggesting adjectives beginning with L for the word I had been misusing in my writing (lugubrious, lachrymose, languorous, laconic), and, briefly, threatening me with her purse when I won't stop espousing the virtues of Gremlins 2. We belong to one another in a way I have never known before. Though, in doing so, we still have to let the other share little bits of with friends and loved ones so as to not limit our universe. Twinges suffer their extinction because we are too strong to let them mature into jealousy.

Soon in Xenology: When I was a girl. Making friends out of clay.

last watched: 30 Rock
reading: On a Pale Horse
listening: Zen Debris

Seasonal Affective | 2009 | In Bloom

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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