Skip to content

No Time for Principles | 2012 | Sees His Shadow


We must have the courage to allow a little disorder in our lives.  

-Ben Weininger


House a Home

A welcomed sight

I cried to Amber when I left my old apartment behind. She entwined her fingers in mine and let me vent.

In itself, I am glad to be rid of that place. It had black mold in the ceiling from a conspicuous lack of maintenance and pernicious stinkbugs that liked few things more than dying on my window sills. It was entirely too small, though it served as a decent quasi-monastic cell for a few years (alone, I do not need much more than a bed, bathroom, and space enough to write). I never had fewer than two humane mouse traps active at any time and lived in constant fear of a resurgence of bedbugs. The complex had uncanny luck for attracting the most stereotypically annoying neighbors such that most earned derisive nicknames within days, such as The Dealer and Child Abuser Barbie.
You're breaking out in sweat!

Still, it was in that second story hovel that I learned my cherished independence after a lifetime of codependence and abandonment issues. It housed the only time in my life that no one relied on me and I answered to no one. Most of my relationship with Melanie took place in its walls, for good and ill. It was the only home I have had on my own and I managed it even on the edge of penury. It would not be a gross mischaracterization to consider it akin to a cocoon from which I have since emerged, transformed if a bit nostalgic.

As I cried, Amber and I drove to our new apartment, the barely carved block(ed with cardboard boxes) that I was supposed to somehow understand as home. This psychologically feat alone seemed daunting, especially as there were so many external factors begging to be reconciled. It felt I had traded a cramped space on my own for a cramped space with my arguably still new lover who might need more than I would be able to give.
Like a wee bird

I had, both from necessity and inclination, grown accustomed to a large proportion of private time. Though Amber does not require me to entertain her, the fact remains that we would live in close quarters at least until I am made full time/Amber finds a job. She would almost always be no farther than the bedroom. As a Writer, solitude is my canvas. (Though, more precisely, downtime during work or when I am in a public place with appropriate distraction is my true canvas. When granted solitude, I generally exercise or waste far too much time on the internet.) I try not to focus much energy on the notion, but could not ignore the niggling worry that this cohabitation could go spectacularly wrong if we are not supremely compatible and respectful of one another.

Yet I almost immediately find that living with Amber brings many unconsidered joys: opening the front door to her gleefully cataloging new clays on the floor by surrounding herself with dozens of newly baked discs, our wandering to discover the landscape of our new town and stumbling upon both strange graffiti against the scenic vista and Moonies, her habit of perching in a tiny chair while working on her computer, how happy she is to kill zombies with me on video games (and how well we work together to banish the infected from our path), her single-minded focus while playing Dance Dance Revolution in a bra and jeans, that paintbrushes adorn our bathroom and kitchen sink.
Really, artists leave their droppings everywhere.
She toiled tirelessly to unpack and decorate while I worked for weeks so that, every time I returned, it looked a bit more like we belong here. I won't deny that I did half jokingly ask her once, a week into living together, when it was that she planned on going home. She replied that she was home and I could not disagree. Soon, it is hard to imagine that I ever did without her because she has so subtly overwritten my need to solitude.

I was willing to see what this might bring, in part because of my pride. I wanted to prove to myself that I could, by my effort alone, provide a life spacious enough to fit two. It did not much matter who the other person was, so long as she did not bother me too much as I pursued my private passions. It would have to be a girlfriend, I knew, and I had assumed for years that it would be Melanie - who will never be in the financial position to have to depend on anyone who does not share half of her chromosomes. I could enumerate the virtues and flaws that made her seem sensible, but they boiled down to the fact that Melanie and I did not need one another and I increasingly felt a need to prove myself worthy.
We did not get eaten by Moonies at this time.

I don't know that Amber needs me, though I do not recall having ever been surer that someone loves me. She still has her bedroom in her mother's house, untouched if a bit emptier. She has a safety net. Similarly, as she pays none of the apartment bills, I do not need her in any material sense. This allows for a purity to our arrangement, as we are here together because we wish to be.

Her mother questioned Amber whether she sufficiently earns her keep and - while I do not exactly keep a ledger in my mind - I can't imagine that anyone who had seen us together could doubt it. Without effort, everything seems to get done. When I was recently so ill I could not stand, Amber cuddled against me and read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making to me until the cramping subsisted. We have our symbiosis, even if she jokes that one of the reasons she loves me is that I let her live in my apartment and insist on calling it ours. She also admits that she is the crucial factor that makes this a home and not merely a place to live.

Soon in Xenology: NonCon. Howe Caverns.

last watched: Sherlock
reading: The Picture of Dorian Gray
listening: Damien Rice

No Time for Principles | 2012 | Sees His Shadow

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.

eXTReMe Tracker