Thomm Quackenbush, author

Singledom | 2011 | Already Met You

05.23.11 4:34 p.m.

If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.  

-Ivan Turgenev

 


I Was Made to Love You

April  
"What do I exist for?"

I don't need you. I would like you to know that. I am an independent and self-actualized sort. If you know anything of my romantic history or literary proclivities - and you might not, since I am so tight-lipped on these subjects - you would be aware that I don't exactly require someone around to be happy. I am easily occupied with the misadventures of people I create in stories or my rotating stable of friends; I like humanity rather a lot and have various ways of successfully and nourishingly engaging with them. I will like taking care of you, when possible, once you show up. It actually gives me a warm thrill to do nice things for someone I love. As I have said before, my brain is built for monogamy now. But I won't ever need you, however much I want you. If you require me to need you, you are going to be disappointed and I hope you can mistake "love" for "need".

I intend to be rather busy until I see you (and even after). I am hoping to learn to swing dance well enough that I no longer need to distract myself with flirty chatter. I also need to begin work on another novel in my series this summer while plumping up an already written prequel. I really ought to do a book signing or so (I've been practicing my signature). I've rejoined a writers group and have recommitted myself to Pagan meet-ups, because I let myself become disconnected from both in my last relationship. Loving Melanie tended to require keeping my schedule free. So don't fret, I will not spoil before we find one another. I hope you won't, either, because I cannot expend all my sanity on finding you to the exclusion of my needs and passions.

You will have to forgive me for the abject geekiness of the following analogous paragraphs, but there is an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that used to make me cry desperate tears. "I Was Made to Love You" is not a very strong episode on its own - though it sets in motion plot threads that prove important in future episodes and seasons - featuring a dorky guy who creates the perfect robotic girlfriend, whom he abandons to run down while he dates an imperfect woman he actually loves. The moment that still chokes me up is when the robot, April, whose battery is largely dead, sits motionless on a swing set beside Buffy. She says, in part, "I've rechecked everything. I did everything I was supposed to do. I was a good girlfriend." and "I'm only supposed to love him. If I can't do that, what am I for? What do I exist for?" Then, poor thing, she thinks maybe this is a girlfriend test, that if she waits patiently, he will come back for her and they can be happy. Buffy tries to be kind to this relative innocent (she was mostly following her programming in hurting people) and enables these delusions, telling her how proud her creator was of her and that he will definitely be back soon to say he is sorry, but winces that this robot mimics her inner monologue.

For a long time, longer that I would care to admit, I related to what April said. I didn't do anything wrong, she (the last three such crucial shes) said so. Why was I dumped if I did everything right? I am supposed to be someone's lover. If I can't do that, then what am I for?

I am not saying I am not supposed to be someone's lover. It makes me exceedingly happy to love someone worth it, to get to know her better than she knows herself. But I can and do love perfectly well without being someone's boyfriend, without going to bed with someone. Without effort, I can list ten people with whom I do not share a solitary bodily fluid who I love almost more than I can express. I do not need to be a boyfriend, however lovely it is between new bedsheets. I have, like April, devoted my life to making another person happy, because I loved her. And she left. But I did not stop living.

At the end of the episode, Buffy is discussing her romantic situation with Xander, who is himself fixing the property damage from a robot attack (as one does). She says how - despite having all this power, amazing friends friends, family - whenever she is without a boyfriend, she feels as though someone took away her arms. But she comes to realize that, while she is missing something, it is nothing so crucial. She does not need a guy right now, she needs her. While she is open to someone amazing presenting himself, she would like "to get comfortable being alone with Buffy." There is nothing wrong with me. They left ("Really left. Left town left.") because they have issues with commitment or fidelity. The right one for me, she won't leave. And she will be along any minute (and will not be frightened away by my Slayer streng... writing?). I have no need to be insecure and my batteries are in no way close to running down waiting for someone who left me behind.

I am made to love you, but I am also made for quite a lot in the meantime and I hope you won't hold it against me if I tend to those things until you introduce yourself. (I also hope you will refrain from holding against me that I reference Buffy episodes on occasion.)

Soon in Xenology: Coping.

last watched: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
reading: Tao of Pooh
listening: Tom Waits

Singledom | 2011 | Already Met You

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