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A Creature of Epiphanies | 2016 | My Students' Lives Matter


The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.  

-John Milton

A Little Slice of Heaven

As we are dancing (or rhythmically swaying without moving our legs too much owning to Amber's still sprained ankle) to Patty Smyth's "Warrior," I have the realization that I am happy. I don't particularly care about Patty Smyth, though I am amused that my town could book her for our tiny street fair - this speaks more to Patty Smyth's current career than the hipness of my town. She lectures the crowd to put away their cell phones. "I promise you, I'm going to sound better tonight than I will tomorrow on Youtube." In retort, even more people begin filming her set.

Amber and I had just slipped out the slide door of the Enchanted Café, where we listened to Professor WHAM detail her historical interests in sasquatch, which boiled down to how the white man gets them wrong. We've heard this talk before. The problem with moving in a small community, both Red Hook and the paranormal one, is that one gets well acquainted with other's talking points. The café occasionally scores a get in the parapsychological or cryptozoological world, though I never realize how illustrious their speakers are until I type up my notes later. Amber and I listen with smirks as the Professor WHAM, Gayle, and some men from a paranormal group class a fuzzy picture as a "class three dogman." Without irony, I adore these sorts of talks. They feed my fiction and, as I drag Amber along whenever possible, serve as a testament to what she will endure for me.

Prior to this, we stumbled upon the Hardscrabble Day parade, which was only a dozen groups of fire trucks, dancers, and marchers, most of whom threw candy at the audience. The children in front of us darted near traffic to score the most candy, their mother urging them to turn over all their finds to her so that she might collect the candy in a plastic bag that appeared out of nowhere. I saw that other parents have these bags and wondered if the town provided these or if the parents were merely apprised of what would be occurring. After the parade ends, taking only ten minutes, Amber and I walk up and down the street, rescuing orphaned Gobstoppers, Dum Dums, and Lifesaver Jellies from being ground to powder beneath car tires. As we go further, we find different candies, leading me to believe we are walking through the strata in the buckets. I doubt we will eat most of it but, in Amber's words, it is better that we collect it than that it gets to enter the environment. (Her stance goes so far as to collect discarded wrappers from excited children, but not imperfect candy.) After this, we have a quick dinner at the "Historic" Diner (the scare quotes belong to the sign, not to me), cuddled side-by-side in a half booth, the only seating available.

We'd wandered Hardscrabble Day earlier, though found it more wanting than we had in years prior. All the same, I appreciate that we live in a small town that feels the need to have these festivals when the season obliges. Next will come the chocolate festival, just after Halloween. The spring brings the apple blossom day.

It was a full day, one that kept me as busy as I wanted to be. It let me love my town a little more. Certainly more than I might come winter, when the street turn to undriveable slush and I can no longer walk around with impunity (or without five layers).

I am in the moment, in love with Amber and enjoying my night. There were other choices, but they vanished when I chose this. I accept that. Since Amber is by her nature indecisive, I am using that to do what I would prefer, knowing she is unlikely to contradict me. Today, it resulted in me losing myself in the holiness of the moment, forgetting the past or speculation of tomorrow.

Soon in Xenology: Faces.

last watched: He Never Died
reading: Hogfather
listening: Patty Smyth

A Creature of Epiphanies | 2016 | My Students' Lives Matter

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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