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New Romantic: Tuesday | 2011 | Partial Eclipse

05.11.11 1:20 p.m.

...So we stayed up late one night to try and get our problems right,
But I couldn't get into his head just what was going through my mind,
And I think he knew where I was going, he put Bryan Adams on
I think he thinks it makes me weak but it only ever makes me strong,
I've got this friend and he sounds just like him,
And he's the man I'd leave you for, the man that I just adore like you.
The same man he turns to me, says "I've got to tell you how I feel,
If god could make the perfect girl for me it would be you"
And my god told me not tell about how much do you love your f[Miss X].
I don't know more every day
Not in this new romantic way.

I'll always be your first love, you'll always be my first love...

-Laura Marling, New Romantic


New Romantic: Wednesday

I wake after noon. I sit in bed a moment, expecting it will hit me full in the face that Melanie is gone, that I will never again kiss her or smell her head or wake up to her smile or have long conversations with her teddy bear or have her purr over my tone of voice. It is there, I can feel it, but it is more like a cat in the corner. Present, but not overwhelming.

I reply to one of her letters, a continuation of our mix of pragmatism and affection, telling her to please keep the replica of my pendant I had made for her or return it to me if she won't. Also, I remind her that I have always wanted our relationship to work, even if she is transitioning it to pen pals.

I have a small breakfast, a handful of cereal and soy milk because I cannot stand anything more. At 3:30, I am meeting a new student for tutoring. I feel around the edges of my emotions and think that I can manage this interaction, generally little more than giving kids packets and explaining about cross multiplication. I think I should be unable to function and don't fully understand why I am. When Emily left me, I was semi-catatonic without hyperbole for days. Is it that Melanie did not officially live with me? Though I love her more than I have loved a person, is it just the lack of relationship infrastructure that eases my heart? Is it that I am just too busy to give up for more than a day? Is it that the breakup took so long that I was prepared on a subconscious level? Is it actually because I spent so long loving her with altruism? Am I actually so strong that I can handle this? Is it that, however I reject her conclusion and abhor her methods (namely, leaving me and cheating on me to ensure a safety blanket), I see some merit in her premise that she is young and is making a massive mistake for the purpose of making a massive mistake? Or, as I suspected with Chris Tuesday night as I looked at the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grieving, am I profoundly in denial of the full impact?

I text Melanie to let her know that I read her LiveJournal entry and she says she hoped I would. We text back and forth a couple more times, but I ask if she can just call me. The conversation is brief. I tell her, in essence, that I wished she could have done this without cheating on me in the end and that I hate that she is with [Miss X].

"She doesn't replace you," Melanie says. "Nothing can replace you."

"Yeah, well, she's where I should be."

There is a pause in the conversation as I specify that I am trying not to cry and am not trying to make her cry. "I feel this pull toward fictionality again," I admit.

"Why don't you do that?" she asks, as though this is a valid choice.

"Because this is the most painful thing possible and I don't want to lose it. This is going to be an event that shapes my future and I won't pretend it away because it would feel easier in the short term. I don't want you to just become an anecdote in my life, the Immature Girlfriend Who Blew a Great Relationship."

The conversation starts to turn tearful and Melanie abruptly says she has to go.

I call Jacki and ask her if she might like to come swing dancing with me tonight, as I don't want to face that alone. She cannot, but we end up talking long into her lunch break where I do end up crying despite myself. She makes me think of all the things I can do now that I couldn't with Melanie, how any future girlfriend should want to spend time with my friends and family instead of hiding in my apartment, but I cannot think of many freedoms I did not already have. I can have ice cream at Friendly's, which I couldn't with Melanie because they depressed her with childhood associations. I will be able to watch Before Sunrise without someone telling me it is too pretentious. I don't have to plan my weekends to include her. But I am otherwise at a loss for how to spin this as a positive thing.

I then call Rosie, who lives near Vassar, but she pleads uncoordination and demurs to a coffee date tomorrow.

I tutor my student and all seems well inside me. While I am not testing things, I seem composed.

Then I get to my car. I begin to grow sad in the quiet, so I turn on the radio. Someone on National Public Radio is talking of invasive mollusks, a subject of Melanie's research last summer. I bite my bottom lip to keep from giving in to the pain. I turn off the radio.

When I get home, there is a reply from Melanie:

Keep or get rid of the pictures... they mean more to you than they do to me.

And yeah, you don' t have to request that I keep stuff. I treasure everything you've ever given me, and I would never part with the replica of your pendant. If anything, I'm all the more determined to find it and keep it somewhere safe, rather than on the chair in the bathroom at my house... and I hope you'll keep the garnet pendant I gave you near the very beginning. I can't imagine wearing it again but I sort of like the idea that we exchanged symbolic things. Because of course we did, in more ways than one.

Thank you for being so gallant about all this. I was thinking about your phone call (sorry I got angry near the end, it was more at myself for crying than at you), and that you're still just amazingly good. The world needs more people like you. I might have mentioned that before.

I swallow hard and respond:

I donít know what I want from you in the end, but I do know that I loved you as far more than the girl in my bed. You were my best friend, my teacher, my student, my co-adventurer on top of being my lover. Iím going to wait a few days before sending things off because I expect to find a few other morsels that I can group together. And of course I am going to be (mostly) gallant about this. I have to live with myself and have so far comported myself with integrity and love. I donít want to hurt you or hurt myself, but I want the pain of losing you to stop as soon as it can. I want to stop being scared of the quiet and the dark.

I will cherish the pendant always, though I wonít wear it.

I will try to refrain from calling you more than is necessary until the dust settles a bit more. I donít want us to be exes (at the moment), I want us to be friends but that is an unpredictable process.

I'm going dancing.

Soon in Xenology: Recovery

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

New Romantic: Tuesday | 2011 | Partial Eclipse

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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