Thomm Quackenbush, author

No Soulmate Stone | 2011 | Dance Anthem of the Under 21

06.21.11 11:58 p.m.

There is always a certain peace in being what one is, in being that completely.  

-Ugo Betti

 


Peace Breaks Out

I had already promised myself to this peace drumming ritual - even if that promise was little stronger than saying so on Facebook - and couldn't break that simply because I had a less than stellar time as a solstice festival days before (pun sadly completely intended). Yes, it did occur to me that Rhianna's rituals do tend toward being predominantly attended by women and, not coincidentally, I would be far from averse if my next partner were some flavor of Pagan. (Being an atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, nonspecifically spiritual or what have you is far from a deal breaker, but it is nice to think I could share sabbats and kisses with the same person.)

Rhianna sees me approach and says it is funny that I am there.

I stop in my tracks. "Is this women only? The invite didn't--"

She laughs, interrupting me from backing away. "No, you are welcome here. I was just thinking about you, that you should be here tonight."

"And I am," I say brightly. She smudges me front and back, though I wish sage smoke frightened away mosquitoes as effectively as negative energy. I take a lawn chair, setting myself up near the fire pit, in front of a plank reading "self-doubt". I look around and realize that I am conspicuously the only male here and swallow how anxious this makes me feel.

I see a few people I recognize from researching this event, because I like to know in advance who will be at any social situation to better plan and egg myself into attendance. I eavesdrop into other people's conversations not out of a sense of social awkwardness but simply because I do not feel the urge yet to speak. Being here is enough for now.

Rhianna asks us to throw in anything we want the fire to consume. I simply say "attachment" and let the turn pass to someone else.

Rhianna thanks me for being there, so they have a representative of the male energies. I blush and almost demur that I am certain I am less a representative of the masculine than some of the women here, but the objection sounds all the more objectionable in my head and I wisely accept the thanks with a nod.

After they light the fire, they chant the names of 192 countries. They do this three times. I make it through the first iteration - though only barely - then decide I can better contribute to the event by drumming on my bongos to keep the rhythm with those on djembes. I zone out and watch as the fire reduces to ash and smoke before they can finish the final iteration.

After the ritual has ended and despite there being no outward sign that global peace has broken out, I approach a woman named Amber, whose pictures I had checked out because I liked her full name. She is smaller and prettier in person than her pictures led me to assume. In inform her that I am somewhat aware of her and why and somehow get away with this behavior, possibly because I open with "So, I was cyber-stalking you earlier and..." I ask her about a costume I saw her wearing in one picture and chat with her about conventions. She seems nervous, but thankfully either curious about me as well or polite enough not to let me know she isn't.

I then encounter a mutual friend of Emily's. I introduce myself and wait a moment for the "Oh..." of recognition, which I do not get. This woman has no idea who I am, to the extent that she asks how I know Emily and I have to say, "Well, we were engaged to be married for a time." How odd it feels to end up as such a small part of that story to someone else, though I suppose her story with Tim and their daughter Sophie has long taken precedent.

As I pack up and help put things away, I am surprised to feel less attached, less in need of someone else. I have long been comfortable on my own - out of nature and necessity - but I am less in need of the presence of someone else in my life. I miss being loved on that level, I miss more loving someone so deeply that I can't imagine a forever without her kisses, but it isn't something that occupies as much space in my head as I leave this circle.

Soon in Xenology: Parties.

last watched: Doctor Who
reading: Anansi Boys
listening: Tom Lehrer

No Soulmate Stone | 2011 | Dance Anthem of the Under 21

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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