Thomm Quackenbush, author

One Wedding and a Funeral (Mention) | 2011 | When You Would Rather Be Engulfed

06.14.11 11:11 p.m.

Love has the innate ability to look past the human and see the godly.  

-Colette Burnham

 


Love in the Wings

Valeri Mudek  
Doubt thou the stars are fire

I have long had a yen for actresses and singers. The sort of people who I may overlook in daily life open their mouths to speak Shakespeare or Joni Mitchell and I am enraptured until such a time as they see cause to close their lovely lips. Homer may have talked a good game of sirens, but I am the one to steer away from the rocks when in the presence of their daughters.

Tonight, I saw the best Hamlet. The actor, Matthew Amendt, balanced composure and madness so well that every head in the stands perked whenever he appeared on stage. Even his hair changed to indicate his mental state, whether he were sane, feigning madness, or genuinely crazy. His Ophelia, Valeri Mudek, started the play powerfully. From the moment she came on stage, she stole my attention. In the scene when she returns lover's token and Hamlet basically rips her heart out, I found myself crying in consort with her. I leaned over to Suzie, who invited me, and told her I was in love. It did not hurt that she was beautiful in the way that I process, as if all of her facial features did not quite belong and I couldn't look away until I figured out why. She had eyes that rarely blinked, whether from affect or nature, and they were the sort of blue that food is not intended to be. Once she became mad, there was nothing there. The crush waned because she could not master the madness as her Hamlet had.

I know that, when she ceased to be Ophelia, when she stepped back into the wings, I would have felt nothing for her. Ophelia existed to me for a few acts, this woman did not.

In this way, there have been times I have taken to someone because they were momentarily exemplify a desirable intangible rather than my brain acceding to any semblance of reason. I leaned toward who they could be or seemed to be while inflamed with passions, not who they truly were.

I has also occurred to me, owing to something Lauren said, that my loving people on sight rather leaves out those who have solidity and worth instead of flashiness and instant rapport. I did not know, when I met Lauren years ago, that I would one day think of her as a little sister, but I do. I can't imagine not loving Lauren. She was one of Jacki's students and I liked her well enough when I crossed paths with her, but I did not know her and would not have come to know her if we did not start sending one another instant messages years later. In talking to her, I found a congruence of souls I would not have guessed at within the first few years of knowing her.
Lauren  
"This is not Yorick... Perhaps, I knew him as well"

I want to see people imbued with their passions, then I can understand them. I wonder at other people looking at me. I am a writer, something that is likely far from evident unless one speaks to me or reads something I've written. I doubt I am flashy enough for most, until they've gotten to know me a little while. (I once refrained from a dalliance with a young woman who told me I was not much to look at when you first met me, but that I became increasingly attractive the longer you knew me.)

I tend to fall in love with the potential I see in people. Who I can see they could be, who they are at their best. But none of us are always at our best and more people that you might realize hate being reminded of their best when they feel at their worst. We can present that face for occasionally minutes at a time, but we are going to get the stomach flu or have to dump a friend or lose a job or feed into the programming our parents put into us, and then we are less glorious beings of celestial light.

I have become infatuated with sundresses, settings, scents, songs - conflating these with the people underneath. Perhaps that is all my adoration on sight amounts to, in the end. Some object trips a circuit in my soul and I imagine this is the same thing as familiarity. In reality, I am exercising my free will as much as a bird cuddling up with a stuffed fox because it has been programmed to play the sound of its chicks. (This is what grad students do with their time in evolutionary psychology departments. They are a very bored people.)

In this sense, dating sites are a blessing for me. They force me to slow down and deal with the person as they present themselves rather than fall to operant conditioning because they gesture like someone I once loved. This is not to say that the person as they present themselves is anything like the person they turn out to me. Most people do not put forth their honest selves on the internet (most people are not impelled to write their souls out for strangers to peruse at their leisure) and so this is simply a possible facet, but it is better than judging someone's character based on the way she brushed her hair back from her eyes when she looks at you for the first time. There will come a moment when she steps out of the spotlight and you have to wonder if you can love who she is in the wings.

Soon in Xenology: Parties.

last watched: Six Feet Under
reading: Anansi Boys
listening: Cake

One Wedding and a Funeral (Mention) | 2011 | When You Would Rather Be Engulfed

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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