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Of What Colour It Please God | 2011 | Swing Dating

05.19.11 12:41 p.m.

If we ever divorce, I want custody of you.  



Making Treaties

"No, I'm just waiting for the timer... really."

Melanie and I speak online. It is about the highest level of conversation I believe she can handle with me right now, not that I could do much better with her. I both crave the comfort of her voice and need to refrain from hearing it. I had sent her a message the day before letting her know that, if we were ignoring one another, I would rather not.

I am terse, at first, because she is not. I cannot not understand how she can feel I would be able to handle frivolity and gossip when all I want to do is pin her down and get answers from her until I am satisfied. She left me a week ago. Though she was prepared for this new life of hers, cushioned by two more weeks of school and someone to keep her bed warm, I was not. I do not care that one of her friends went on an awkward date, too aware that I might have some of those myself in the future because of her leaving.

I mention that a few copies of my book came in the mail, though I do not tell her how sad they make me. To touch this accomplishment, to know that I partly credit to her the courage to edit, and know I could not share it with her pained me. The photo I uploaded to my fan page of me holding the book got several comments to the effect that I did not look happy and I did not think it wise to explain just why.

Melanie says she will order many copies at full price and give them to libraries, though I struggle to feel appropriately about this.

I then ask after her graduation. She had informed me before that she had never banned me, but I had banned myself. All I would want from that is a proper goodbye, something I did not get when she left to "think things through", kissing me with utter fondness as though I stood a chance. Her graduation, hounded by friends, prodded by parents, maybe doted on by [Miss X] or someone else is not the time for that. And perhaps it is better to leave our last physical interaction with one of the best kisses of our relationship rather than tight-lipped refusal to say what we are really thinking. It is a moment for movies, but not for reality. I would go and then what? I would be teary and unable to express why in the crowd. I would not run up to her, gathering her in my arms and kissing her as the sky rained down on us and all was forgiven. I would not want that now, she had all the chances she will get for that and threw them away for flings of supposed self-discovery. Going to graduation would clarify nothing.

She finally understands that I am not speaking freely to her and asks if I am frustrated with her. I can't condone what she put me through. She says she is not ready to have a real conversation of how I feel, but I tell her that I am glad we are talking, and mostly mean it. I want to remember that we like one another. I attach importance to her persisting in being a person and not a symbol. She did not cease being Melanie because she left me.

She seems to want my acrimony, but I can't give it to her with sincerity, for myself more than for her sake. Pretending I hate her would make me feel like an idiot for having been so in love with her for so long against the odds her age presented. I won't degrade myself or our time together by pulling that. I won't play games.

She tells me of a prophesy she had written out early in our relationship, which she describes when I say it could not hurt more to know. She says she knew going in that it would end this way, though she felt differently during our relationship. In the middle, she had hope we would last, it was what she wanted. But in the beginning as in the end, she said she would leave because I knew what I wanted. I was fine to lean on, to grow against in the safety of our love. But she knew from the beginning that I was not someone she wished to stay with, however she talks of revisiting our relationship in five years, when she wises up. When she met me, she thought I was "serene and firm" and she could only doubt she was ready for a forever of that. I was perfect for the moment and I made her want to be perfect too, but she wasn't. I remind her that I barely understood what I wanted when I met her. I was a mess, figuring out my adult life for the first time, faking a life until I had made one with her.

In the beginning, I was, in her phrasing, "disillusioned with sublime passions". I did not want to drown in the madness of love, I did not wish to submerge her in an agony of ecstasy that would consume her. With me, she could love calmly and that is what she needed then. But she no longer does. Being single, as she apparently is despite her taking others to bed, is teaching her what she wants in life. In this week without me, she feels comfortable with herself - her sexuality, her gender identity - suddenly. She cannot cotton to being the one in the relationship who is cared for, preferring to be the one pulling lovers from the flames.

She welcomes me to tell her she is, in essence, full of crap. I hate that she is doing this. I think she will regret it, will realize that she sacrificed something huge for a negligible gain. I tell her that what she says is not as revelatory as she seems to think, that she worked well with me because we were never hung up on gender roles. I am about as feminine as she is masculine. It is why she found me so attractive. But she says it retroactively made her uncomfortable to be the girl to my boy, however little we abided such distinctions.

She admits to still loving me and expresses her pity that she dragged me through this for three years, only to leave me this way. She in no sense regrets our relationship, because she would be a very different and likely miserable person without me. This is not unlike how I feel toward her and I am glad for her admitting it.

I tell her I would like to remain friends, if just because I am tired of doubting her (but not her love, she did and does love me). I don't want to be angry at her, though I cannot cheat myself out of the process of my fury at this disappointment.

There will have to be rules to our friendship, I insist. I advise her against reading what I write for a while longer, up to my fifty-thousand words of catharsis. I clarify that I don't want to be nasty toward her, but I also do not want her to read about my attempts at finding love again just as I do not care to hear the details of her attempts to find identity through sex. She mentions not remembering saying it would kill her to see me with someone else, that she encourages me to hook-up with people because it would show I was trying to get on with my life, albeit on a shallow, physical level. I can't quite believe she thinks this is how I work. If I were to start hooking up with people, it would signal to me that she destroyed something crucial to my identity in leaving me. I have a very healthy libido, but I am not going to take it out on an innocent party. I have only ever gone to bed with women whom I love and this breakup is not going to be the thing that changes that.

She seems to expect this experience of her leaving would destroy me, as breakups have destroyed many others of weaker constitutions. But that isn't how this works. I mourned for months and kept trying to resuscitate our love and my trust every time she held her breath because something in her head was not quite right. I am not one to give up on life to nurse my wounds because I do not have the time to give up.

This whole conversation is, for me, like the letter I wanted from her, the one detailing exactly what is going on between us. I can look at it and know, more or less, where we stand. At present, it feels better to know Melanie than to pretend I can forget her.

Soon in Xenology: More dancing. Coping.

last watched: How I Met Your Mother
reading: Tao of Pooh
listening: Tom Waits

Of What Colour It Please God | 2011 | Swing Dating

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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