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Strip for 3/11/2002  
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I love Neil Gaiman's work, as I've said many times before. The passage I'm quoting in the first panel is from Brief Lives in Sandman. It's from a few pages that I've read every time I've been dumped. Scarily, it's always apropos. At first, I did it to amuse my sister, who said that I was as melodramatic as the Sandman character. But slowly it's become a tradition (but one I'd be happy to not have to do anymore, really). The full lines are: "She... she has decided she no longer loves me... This is foolish... Why do I hurt so? I scarcely knew her. A handful of months, little more. I would have given her worlds of her own, strung like sapphires and emeralds on a silken cord. I would have given her... I keep thinking of her eyes, towards the end. Cold eyes, weighing me dispassionately, finding me wanting... And in the end, she told me. But I knew before she told me. It was there in her eyes. She had decided she no longer loved me."

Song time: This one is the Magnetic Fields, All the Umbrellas in London.

Two misconceptions I should clear up before launching in. One: my dad thought that this story was ongoing currently, and so wished me good luck with Twin Girl (yeah, that hurt lots). Two: a friend asked if this was the first time I had lost love and I'll say that sentiment so frequently echoed by males everywhere. I don't know what love is. I just know how I'd like to feel. And for a while, I felt really comfortable and secure, and happy and it was getting better all the time, and then it got worse and then I lost all hope of better with her.

And so that brings us to the story again.

Part VI: The Bad Times

So things were mixed, like I said. She'd be very affectionate and happy one day and then be withdrawn that night. I just chalked it up to the guilt feelings over the boyfriend and just felt that if I gave her space, it would prove that I was learning not to be so demanding. It turned out I was right, because after an especially deep night, she said that she'd have to give me space so that she could see if her problems with her guy were due to distance and their issues or if it was due to me. But I was OK with this.

If I had to pick an exact day when it turned sour, it was Saturday, Feb 2. Rick was having a party and we were supposed to go. I was at home in Milwaukee earlier that day, and I was trying to make plans with her to have a small dinner so we could have some alone time before being battered with the revelry. but she demurred. I drove down and after dinner I asked if she wanted to spend any time with me before the party. She tells me she's not going. She said it'd be too awkward, meeting my friends, and she's got a lot on her mind. I again say it's OK, but of course it's not. Why did I do that? I hate it when people don't tell me how they really feel, which I guess is what was happening there. The two of us being awkward. And that's it, really. The smoothly running Kip-Twin Girl relationship became a clanky jalopy, requiring checkups constantly. When you drive a car, you don't want to worry that the axles are going to fall off any second. But now I was driving with my head out the window, just waiting for the tires to go.

Kill with kindness was my motto, however. I'd offer to take her shopping for things too large to walk with, to make her dinner, get her coffee. Was I being a sap? Getting used? I don't think so. I mean I don't think she ever maliciously used me. I just offered as much of myself as I could and she took sparingly of me.

And it's not like she just became a distant speck in my life. I mean she had said she wanted space, so I found other ways to fill my life, like with midterms, and other friends. And in the second week of February, heading into Valentine's Day, I was pretty convinced that she had chosen me.

The weekend was incommunicado. He arrived on Thursday and I didn't hear from her until Monday when I ran into her on the street. "It's not over yet, he's waiting for the taxi to arrive," was all she said. I had a show that night, and I got back too late to talk to her. Then I had my ComedySportz audition the next night so I didn't want to hear one way or another until after that was over.

I got back from it, waited for the callback, which didn't come. I picked her up and we sat down to finally have this thing out from between us. The decision from January, postponed a month and a half.

We made hot chocolate, and drank it slowly.

Then she told me she and her guy had broken up. I was happy, but still in shock over the whole CSz experience. She said, "You have to get over this, do something you've been looking forward to for a while." I listened to her words instead of the body language (leaning back in my Pöang as I sat on the couch). I leaned in to kiss her. She was a motionless yogi. "Not now," she said. She held me for a while as I got my emotions over the CSz thing out. She told me to put some happier music on. Then I took her home.

If I thought I'd been dominating our conversations before the 14th, I was truly just talking to myself after that Tuesday. In the logs, you can see me trying desperately to elicit the same sort of banter that we'd once had, and you can see her distractedly replying. You can see me not paying attention to the hundreds of signals she left me that what I wanted to give her, she didn't want anymore.

The next weekend was also spent incommunicado. A friend of hers from home was visiting and staying with her.

The next week, work always seemed to be in our way. She didn't seem to be going through withdrawal that I was. To feel close to her, I'd do the crossword puzzle (she likes them, see) during class and think, "Twin Girl's going to do this puzzle today and maybe when we talk she'll mention it and perhaps I'll have a word that she doesn't and that'll get this whole thing back on track."

Gee, when you think of it that way, I was in pretty bad shape. But the saddest part was that during this time, I kept thinking that happiness was around the corner, and would only be more sweet for having been hard won.