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Recycling Party | 2010 | On the Dance Floor

01.14.10 1:01 p.m.

and if home is really where the heart is
then we're the smartest kids I know
because wherever we are in this great big world
we'll never be more than a few hours from home

-Kimya Dawson


Preemptive Homesickness

She is just lucky she has a cute pout

"I have something that you aren't going to like," Melanie says. I hate conversations that start this way. She goes on to explain that, while the plan had always been that she would be returning to me Saturday, she has opted to prolong her stay with her parents for another four days, so her mother won't have to be alone once her father leaves on a trip.

This leaves me no reasonable response. I am disappointed to have this long weekend snatched away from me so she can spend more time in a town she has done little more than bitch about with parents to whom she had made me feel she was overfull (as any adult might be after a solid month of contact with one's parents). I cannot insist upon her presence on the day she promised without sounding like a possessive jackass, as she ran this all by her parents before discussing it with me. The demanding, older boyfriend is such a cliché, especially given that she already references her mother's potential opinion when I call or text her more than twice a day.

I express all of this as best I can and our conversation is going well until she suggests that these additional days will be good practice for when she goes to New Zealand for nine months, something which she states feels more and more likely. The three months I did without her for each of the last two years is apparently not practice enough, nor do I want this vast potential chasm thrown in my face when I am doing my best to be rational about her extending her time away from me.

This spirals into her fearing her parents' individual mortality, as her father is nearly seventy and there are only going to be so many lunches she can share with him. Having dealt with a partner playing hospice to her father a year after her mother went through a mastectomy and extensive chemotherapy, this isn't new ground for me, though it is thankfully unfounded in the case of Melanie's parents.

She says she realized that she would be spending her mornings without me while she was here and that she was certain that she would be homesick and depressed, so it was better that she not come until both her parents would be gone. I am aware that, having made this decision, she is now spinning justification for it. It is a natural reaction, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. One needs to rationalize that one is doing this for noble reasons and not, say, because one is twenty and gets homesick. That is ground from which one could be goaded, so it is not ground she can acknowledge is the foundation of her argument (though she grants it a parapet or two).

I ask her, next winter, if she wouldn't mind carpe-ing her diem a bit earlier so she can return on time, as she has had no lack of time with her parents this month. She laughs and agrees, but says we will have the rest of our lives together and I shouldn't overly begrudge her a few more days' absence.

She says I am very nice. I disagree, half-joking that I have just elevated enlightened self-interest to an art form. If I rage against her, as she expects without a slice of evidence, she is not going to return to me a devoted and doting girlfriend. This isn't to say I am not upset and don't vocalize this point by point, despite my brain trying to dissociate from the conflict. For me, this is an emotional inconvenience. I had plans that involved her and was actively preparing for her return. To have that put off on a preemptive homesick lark is aggravating, but I do not help myself or her by becoming aggravated.

I have never gotten a concentrated month of her and am jealous. I get a few days here or there, always having to be the one who acknowledges that school has to be the priority and, now, a few more days with parents about whom she grumbles to me. I am greedy and want her kisses desperately after a month without them.

Soon in Xenology: Maybe a job, dancing.

last watched: Arrested Development
reading: Ender in Exile
listening: Kimya Dawson

Recycling Party | 2010 | On the Dance Floor

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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