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2001-09-07 - 12:13 p.m.

It's six o'clock in the morning, and I'm awake. That's not that unusual, I suppose; I usually get up this early to go running. But I haven't really been asleep for most of the night.

I was suddenly and violently, and I would like to say inexplicably, ill this evening. I've always had a weak stomach, one that seemed to betray me at the most inconvenient of times. It's been much worse the past three months, something I attributed to nerves. Recently, I thought it might be lactose intolerance. I gave up milk and cereal for breakfast, and that helped for about two days. Then it came back. But it's never been this bad before.

I did laundry with Gary last night. I offered; he doesn't have a car, and it's no fun doing laundry alone. I keep him company when he goes outside to smoke, and then he beats me at Ms. PacMan. Even though we broke up in June, and then spent two weeks together on the trip to California (the best trip we ever went on, we both say), we still spend a fair amount of time together. Lately, he's seemed different, less angst-ridden maybe, but I couldn't tell what was going on. He still seemed glad to see me, he still called, and we still went to movies together. He had randomly mentioned some girl he met at a bus stop, and proceeded to bring her up in a few more emails. I didn't think much of it, but when I put together, all the details, it suddenly became clear. After all, it was how he wooed me.

Gary's Tried and True Method for Romancing the Ladies (tm):

1. Mention you work the local video store on Sunday nights, and to come by if you want free movies.

2. When she does come by, dazzle her with your command of the cash register, and your genuine willingness to help customers, which is unusual because the employees at this particular video store seems to pride themselves on being mean to customers.

3. Hope she notices the supercool music playing.

4. Offer to make her a cd.

5. Get her email address.

That last part is key, you see. Once Gary has an email address, then he's in like Flynn. If Gary can't woo a girl over email, then she's either illiterate or a lesbian.

I jokingly accused Gary of all this in an email, and he halfheartedly confirmed over the phone that night. I think he was surprised that he was that transparent, or that I knew him that well. Even I was surprised. He tried to tell me about their date, but I stopped him. I told him I didn't want to know, but I couldn't stop thinking about it.

But I felt bad about that. So while we were doing laundry, I apologized, and said that I was jealous, but that I had no right to be, and that he could talk about his new friend if he wanted to. So he did. He said they were dating now, as of last night. He looked shamefaced, and was halfway worried I'd leave him stranded at the laundromat. But try as I might, I just can't be that mean. So we talked about her for a bit, and my stomach began to tie up in knots, accompanied by the familiar dryness in my mouth. I suppose it's never nice to have one's suspicions confirmed, regardless of what right I might have.

So we did our laundry. And talked some more. And played Ms. PacMan. I had mentioned going out for a beer afterwards, even though my stomach told me it was a really horrible idea. But Gary hadn't eaten, so we went to the Crown and Anchor. We ordered beer, and sat down, and halfway through my first (and only) beer, and right about the time Gary started bringing up the girl again, I had to get up and dry heave in the bushes. Poor Gary thought I'd stranded him, which would have been amusing, as every single piece of laundry he owns was in the back of my car. We left shortly thereafter, and Gary drove me back to his place, while I clutched my stomach the entire time.

The rest of the night was almost comical. Gary got drunk on gin, and I lay on his bed, in pain. Whenever he would try and talk about anything serious, I would leap to the bathroom, thinking I was about to throw up. I never actually did throw up, although I've had more diarrhea in a 12-hour span than I could have thought possible.

Gary tried to apologize, even though he hadn't really done anything wrong. He said he was shocked that he had found someone to date before I had. He said he didn't know how this was going to work out, but he was very flattered that someone liked him enough to date him.

I don't know why I've had such a strong physical reaction to this. I don't like to think that my body is this easily ruled by my emotions.

Gary and I could have gone on for a while the way we were. The hard part was all done a long time ago; Gary had told me all along that he loved me, but that he was not in love with me. I tried to be in love with him for a while, but it was a disaster. When we broke up in June, it wasn't because I didn't like him; it was because he was really hard to date. Also, he was mean to me in front of his friends (something he denied at first, and then later apologized for). But things settled into a really nice familiar pattern. We saw each other occasionally, and talked on the phone a few times a week. He still made me cds. I still drove him places. We were really at ease with each other. We were physical sometimes, which was always nice, but couldn't really be relied upon. I thought about dating other people, flirted on occasion, and had kissed more than one person since we broke up. But even when we weren't dating, I still liked him best. Everyone else seemed to pale in comparison.

I don't suppose things will be that different. We'll still spend time together, but I know he won't have as much free time as he used to. There will be things he won't tell me, because he'll worry they'll make me uncomfortable. I'll be able to tell anyway; he's a horrible liar.

Most of me does want him to be happy. I suppose he feels now the same way we both felt when we started dating in December, really giddy and happy to be in each other's presence. I don't doubt that he cares for me and loves me, but I know I can't make him feel that happy.

Mainly, I just want my stomach to stop hurting. And I'd really like to get some sleep.

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