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All Rise | 2010 | 21

07.15.10 8:51 p.m.

Inasmuch as I needed to love or be loved, I thought I was in love. In other words, I acted the fool.  

-Albert Camus


Soulmates or Bedmates

Melanie and Xen  
Of course, we will grant you a biff in the snoot if you vex us.

There is not someone for everyone, but that's far from a curse. It's almost a blessing, to breaststroke through of the dating pool, to be a carbon atom in the social experiment. While one's partner is not precisely fungible, one knows that one needn't be unattached for any longer than it takes to encounter a similarly-minded singleton and find an empty room.

Then there are people who catalyze with only a few others and are otherwise inert. Melanie and I, with our melange of gallows humor and obscure references, blend well but joke that no one else would have us. (That isn't to say that she is not amazing and doesn't catch eyes.) I am not made for all markets, but that doesn't matter so long as I am for hers. Perhaps it makes our relationship stronger that we know how rare it is to connect with someone else so deeply. Were either of us inclined to see the other as interchangeable, there would be little reason not to make the switch at the first friction as teenagers do.

I transitioned from being dumped by a woman who was not quite right for me despite our respective and synergistic intelligences to one who is far more compatible in a way that is quicky apparent. I hesitated so long in my relationship with my ex Emily, even after proposing to her, that it was startling to ease into a romance with a woman whom I have not doubted for more than a handful of minutes in two and a half years (and almost every one of those moments was loaded into the first two weeks).

I've work at high schools and conformity is all teenagers care about. They mingle with those who have adopted a largely pleasing demeanor to be acceptable for anyone who shops at the same store. I spent my own teenage years rebelling by dressing in the uniform of the abnormal, kissing and parting from dozens of purple haired or pierced girls before I started seeing the virtue of sticking around with those happy few who made me do more than fizzle.

Some people don't need a special someone, just someone. Why should they be miserable when they aren't looking for a soulmate, just a bedmate? It is enough for them to be companionable with someone else, to fall to good conversation and satisfying sex. I am aware we live in a culture that makes its money off our dissatisfaction (how else would romantic comedies do so well?) and applaud those who realize they can love the person they are with, or at least like them enough that love is not a prerequisite to affection.

Conversely, I know too that many wait for what they presume is their perfect partner, even after he or she has receded into the distance on someone else's horse. Even as one suffers from that person's callous rejection, the dial is set to their having been the right one and the momentum of that consistency insists upon mooning long after the one-night stand is over. One watches the silhouette fade beyond the horizon, ignoring those who are in front of them and who, if they are not the Right One, are at least the Very Good One Who Is Certainly Better That the Supposed Right One. I myself have, in my youth, skunked potential romances because I refused to acknowledge that the one I was certain I still loved was busy loving someone(s) else. Maybe those who partner more liberally just have the bravery to try.

Soon in Xenology: Maybe a job.

last watched: A Mid-Summer Night's Dream
reading: Swann's Way
listening: DJ Shadow

All Rise | 2010 | 21

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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