Thomm Quackenbush, author

New Romantic: Sunday | 2011 | New Romantic: Tuesday

05.09.11 1:17 p.m.

...Maybe I should give up, give in
Give up trying to be thin
Give up and turn into my mother
God knows I love her...  

-Laura Marling, New Romantic

 


New Romantic: Monday

Driving to work the next day, I shout at my windshield to get the pain out of me, then apologize to my car that some spit has hit it as I wipe it off with my shirtsleeve. I cannot believe that Melanie is putting me through this again after seeming to have resolved this crisis, though she says she had only been pretending because she wanted so badly for it to be true. I am tired of hearing from people that I am simply "in a different place" than her, as though it excuses everything. As if, after three and a half years together, that magic wand of a cliché will make me realize I don't know the woman I love. All I want right now is for her to call or text me. Just an "I love you" or a heart and I would be fine again. This is clearly some chemical morass that I bear the brunt of and it infuriates me that I get threatened because she gets a bit of chemical depression, a confluence of a lack of Adderall, her coming period, and work related stress.

During prep periods, I look at the thirty odd pages of entries and notes about my feelings these past seven months, all the things I would not publish for fear of tipping the scales to her leaving me, and am struck by how we have been going through the same drama over and over (presented unedited aside from an excision about a third party: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J). I write her a letter I do not intend to send to bet the pain out of me:

Melanie,

I have raged in the car on my way to work because I did not sleep enough. A friend insisted around 10:30 that I sign off, as she understood - however much I had said nothing of the sort - that I was hoping you would sign on and say hello. Say something. But you didn't. I only fell asleep because I cradled my phone next to me, in hopes you would text. But you didn't. I know I said I would give you time, let you make the contact, but it is horrid to wait.

I hate that my only active role when it comes to your crisis is the first conversation, the debunking. After that, it is all waiting for your hormones and chemicals to get back into proper order. I sustain myself solely on the thought that you were being plagued by these, though you weren't when you all but cheated on me. You think I can forget that you said you had intended to have relationships with the two of us? Were you hungry then? Were you chemically altered then? Am I supposed to excuse this? How on earth can you say you love me and treat me this way? I deserve so much better than this treatment from you. With two weeks left with you in New York and you are bringing this up? How dare you.

I am so tired of playing this game with you. I don't think your age is an excuse. I think it is bullshit that you would try to hide behind that. Grow up in this one way. You are not in high school. You are not some cloistered flower.

I have spent all this time thinking, "but what if you might otherwise happily spend your life with this woman, if you just get over this final hump?" But I can't keep doing this with you. This decision is final. You are either with me now, with full belief it is for keeps no matter what life throws at us, or we are done and you leave me to heal. Don't tell me how badly you will want me in five years, how you want to marry me in ten. I am yours now until then, or I am not. I love you, but I am not going to be used as your fall back, as your security blanket.

I hate that you miss a meal or so and suddenly my future is threatened. Do you know how heartbreaking it will be if I cannot go to your graduation after three and a half years of being proud of you, because [Miss X] might be there or some other potential catalyst?

I don't think you can appreciate how unfair you are to me in these moments.

You felt better when you left, because you had been fed and loved. You said you didn't think we would have had the conversation like that if you had slept properly.

It is said that you teach people how to treat you by your consent. Let me be clear here, I do not consent to being treated as disposable so you can act like this. That is not freedom, it is a cage and I won't pretend otherwise. You are too good for that bullshit.

When you tell me that you may decide you want me yet and stop at nothing to get me back, I find you unbelievable. If you can think of this, if you can tell me that seeing me with someone else would feel like you were being killed, then you want to stay with me. Why is that so hard for you? Why do you keep playing this game with me?

As long as you love me, there is no excuse or reason that you can give me that will be satisfactory for leaving me because there is not one.

Right now, I am feeling all the sleep deprivation I did not process yesterday, feeling just miserable, which is no doubt influencing what I am writing. But there is a core that I am just tired of this run around. The only new factor is you naming [Miss X] and trying to push things to cheating.

This is the last time you can do this to me ever. You put me through hell for what seems to be no lasting gain. I thought you were done with this ridiculous wanderlust, I thought that you had reached the end of your crisis but it seems you doubled back. I love you more than I have ever come close to loving, more that I expect I will love again. But, if you leave me, I will try to love again. I used to not want to be alone because I was scared, but now I know that I deserve to be loved. You may be scared of commitment, but it is what I am looking for. I have been excruciatingly patient with you, I don't think anyone would disagree. But I have reached a point where I need to know I can trust you with my heart, even at a distance. And I don't, right now. Every time I gain my trust in you, when you seem so in love with me, you seem to pull this. After the weekend we had prior to this one, after how you wanted to stick around and cling, I can't see how you transitioned so quickly to this game. How can you rush between two far poles so quickly? How can your heart stand it?

Don't tell me how much you love me, don't touch me as though you do, and then play this game with me. You are young, you are not foolish enough to think that is fair.

I don't want to lose you. I don't want to give you up. But I am tired of running in the circle, coming to trust you to have it dashed.

You said you would have cheated on me. You conceal my existence from someone you crush on. That is horrible and sick. Do you avoid Facebook just so you can conceal what your life really is? Are you so easily influenced?

I remember, even if you wish to forget, even if it is a million miles from here, that you proposed to me last year. I remember every time you say you want forever with me and each one digs at me when you act like this. Don't say I am the only one who wants to be together forever.

I deserve better than your treatment, but I love you so much, so utterly 95% of the time. You are my equal, the person with whom I am the most comfortable.

I am so sorry I am not a girl for you, that I can't satisfy half your bisexuality. I can't help how I was born, but I see this as a lame excuse anyway. I am heterosexual and I never again want to touch a woman who is not you. I know what an amazing thing we have.

How can you be so casually cruel to me? To say that I better finish my book soon so you can critique it before you dump me? To suggest I give you the book of poetry if you break up with me? To accuse me of being obsessed with you? To tell me you wanted to cheat on me? To speak and act in such contradiction?

At lunch, I text her that I love her and she should contact me when she is ready. She says that she loves me too and that she thought she was to be the one to make first contact. I concede she is, but that texting feels like it doesn't really count. She says with what I assume is fondness that I will hear from her, but not yet because she is in the library about to do the undergraduate equivalent of defending her thesis. I apologize for forgetting and wish her luck. She later texts that it was a success. There we leave it.

That night, I take my mother to a belated Mother's Day dinner. She at one point suggests a cruise on the Hudson River on which I should take Melanie and I can only tell her that it sounds lovely. Aside from this, I can almost forget the anxiety within me that my lover is holding our relationship hostage to her fear of commitment.

When I get home, I take down any picture of her or that she has drawn, remove the crayon colored anatomical model of her heart that is a deed to the actual organ, all the little notes she left around my apartment for me to find, and place these in a steel box in my closet. I change my backgrounds to pictures I took of flowers trapped in a thicket or a photograph of my shadow on Lake George.

Soon in Xenology: Recovery

last watched: Sherlock Holmes
reading: Tao of Pooh
listening: Laura Marling

New Romantic: Sunday | 2011 | New Romantic: Tuesday

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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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

The Night's Dream Series

We Shadows by Thomm Quackenbush

Danse Macabre by Thomm Quackenbush

Artificial Gods by Thomm Quackenbush