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Strip for 3/9/2002  
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I've done nothing but sit on the couch all day. I've been doing work, and writing, and reading, and listening to CD's I haven't listened to in ages, but still, wow, what happened to today? I was feeling better yesterday, and it was a status indicator I could read clearly, but when you sit on the couch all day, such indicators get blurred. "Kip, did you really have a worse day or did you just think more, since your butt was adhered to one cushion all day?" Sil is at home for the weekend, so that made it easier to do nothing all day (this week, she's been on the couch 24/7, finishing her honors project, which is dazzlingly good fiction that I wish to all higher powers I could write).

The weather is in the same meandering wandering mood shifting tempermant as me. It was bright then cloudy. It was windy, calm, then windy again. Snow fell. I love listening to the wind hurl itself at the windows, spilling through the cracks and then hitting the plastic hung expressly for this purpose and falling back outside, unable to get to me.

I wish so many things couldn't get to me.

The song for today is Moxy Früvous' Fly from their Wood album. For maximum effect, play it as you read the story. Wow, sensory overload, huh?

Part IV: I'm Sorry I Complicated Your Life, But It Was Fun, Wasn't It?

This is the part that's hard to write.

When I left off, it was the end of Winter Break and I was desperately waiting for a decision. January 6th was to have been the end of all my patient pacing. And then Twin Girl's boyfriend fell sick, sick enough to go to the hospital. Of course she couldn't dump him.

"Dude, that's such an excuse. What, was she planning on deciding as she got dropped off? Of course she knew, and didn't like the decision, and now she gets an extension." These sentiments came from most the friends I talked to at the time, but I trusted her. How could I now, when she'd just told me, a week before, of how she couldn't stop thinking about me? (I floated for days).

I picked her up from the airport. She looked drawn out. We hugged and drove back to campus. There was a barrier between us, built from her worries over her boyfriend's health and me over worries over her decision. I saw how hard it was to move from a long distance relationship consisting of emails and phone calls to face to face where the other person sat in front of you, not speaking and not giving clues to the reason for reticence.

The first week back, I felt like a climber returning to a familiar park after an injury. He knows the route, knows where the stumbling blocks are, knows how high he'd climbed before, and wants to get there again, quickly, so he can move on to the next part of the route.

Sil had moved back at this time, but I wasn't able to reconnect with her, since she had old friends from high school visiting and staying at our place. She was moving in her stuff, and feeling out of place as well, and it felt like every little imperfection in our apartment was my fault. I kept apologizing for things, but secretly felt a bit resentful. I spent most of my time away with Rick or Twin Girl.

I spent time with Twin Girl every day of the first weekend back. And on Sunday, the day after the longest night of my life (for reasons I cannot divulge, sorry, but it was truly horrible), I was in complete shock and pain. I was so angry and sad and just used up. I split out of the apartment early in the morning and tried to go to church, but there were no services that early. I sat around in Panera until it was time for the 11:00 service, and then I came back to a thankfully empty apartment and sat. I had been up most of the night and I needed to pick my brother up from the airport. I zipped online, and complained, and Twin Girl asked me if I wanted company later as I worked on my first story for storytelling class.

I slept through my alarm, and my brother called me from the airport, wondering where the hell I was. I burned rubber out to O'Hare, had to circle a bunch, got him, complained some more, dropped him off, then went to get Twin Girl.

I tell you this not to offer an excuse for what happened, but to give you an idea of where I was on a mental map.

We were sitting on the new couch (no more Pöang and Greenie separation, sadly, Greenie was gone). And all that resolve slowly drifted away as I leaned over and kissed her.

That was it, the main test I'd set for myself, and I'd just failed it with falling colors. I walked her home and then went out for a drink with Rick to clear my head, or perhaps to fog it more.

The next day, she said we had to talk. We went to the trendy coffeeshop, since it was the only one open that late, and she told me that her guy was too much a part of her life. She had to end things with me. I sat dumbly, dribbling forlorn thoughts into my root beer float. All the airy feelings of the past four days, mixed with the emotional upheaval of Saturday night (longest night of my life, remember), and then the kiss on Sunday, all these ups and downs churned in my frontal lobes. I needed time to process the rejection and so we drove out to as close to the lake as I could manage and sat in my car. We apologized for the kiss, feeling guilty in our own ways. I spent a lot of time looking at her through the tops of my eyes until she said the words to define January.

Those words were: "Is it still wrong if we do it twice?"

After that, we were dating, yet not dating. The new decision date was set for her boyfriend's Valentine visit, and until then, we just figured that as long as we were sliding down a slippery slope, we might as well enjoy the ride together.

I remember the next two weeks as being blissful. Lots of time spent together, and some really funny conversations. Inside jokes made and repeated. Like when I complained that the old adage of "Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?" told me that I should stop giving her the benefits of a boyfriend without getting the status. Loads of free milk comments flew, and it was fun, and it helped me put a better cover over my guilt, so much that the guilt went away and I didn't notice it at all.

But as I read through the logs, I can sense a change in the air. The initial excitement is wearing off slowly. I begin to be the dominant talker online, and she goes through mood swings. Sometimes she really wants to go out, other times, wild giraffes couldn't pull her from her room. She blames it on needing to save money for spring break. I offer to pay. I just want to see her. We do go out quite a bit. We make good memories of this time.

My favorite times are when I see her on the street and she comes back to the apartment for lunch. I make her a hot sandwich and we sit on the couch (now named Hector by us, as in "I blame our kissing that night on Hector") and do work and talk. I want to spend all free moments being able to cuddle on the couch, throwing flyaway thoughts into the air and having her catch them. I want to hear her talk about her most mundane details, because I want her to feel so comfortable with me that she doesn't worry about boring me. Because when she talks, I'm am entirely auricled.

It was the insinuation of her into my life that I loved. It was the fact that when I hopped online, and she was there, she'd pop a line over, to see how I was, even if she couldn't talk for very long.

Can you blame me for starting to plan my future and including her? Even when she told me not to? Even when we weren't really dating?