Life - roll my die, change this life
You said this movie was mine
But now you go and change your mind
This is my life
So it goes
You come in on your own in this life
You know you leave on your own
Cause? I don't need no cause
When my feelings fall
You showed me things I didn't want to see
I don't believe that love is free
Sure fine way to treat a man

So it come in on your own in this life
And you know you leave on your own

I'm just a boy in a white bandana
Another drink and I won't miss her
--The Verve from their album A Northern Soul.

It was February in Reno, Nevada, which, contrary to popular belief, is a really chilly place in the winter. This girl and I had been through an ultra-painful break-up a few weeks earlier, but we were taking this film class at night together, so we were pretty much stuck with each other for at least three hours a day, once a week, for the rest of the semester. She drove a '60-something Karmann Ghia, I drove a '78 Toyota Corolla with locks that didn't work.

Class got out at nine. I walked out to the parking lot and saw her struggling with her car, twisting the key and swearing like a drunk parrot. Her locks had frozen, so I told her to get in my car so we could go to the 7-11 and get some hot water. The ride to the store was pretty much silent. There's not a whole lot you can say to a old lover in freezing temperatures that won't hit the floor and break a toe. My stereo was playing a mix tape I had made the day after we had broken up, so it was mainly bittersweet depressive sap -- a lot of The Cure, some Joy Division, a little Modest Mouse thrown in to anger it up some. When we got to the convenience store, she got out of the car softly like a snowflake and walked inside.

I sat in my car, listening to the music, watching my breath, pretending I was smoking.

She came out in tears, claiming that the clerk wouldn't give her any water. I told her to sit and I'd be right back. I walked inside and asked the clerk for some hot water to de-ice a lock. The clerk laughed and said she couldn't understand the woman who was just in here, then handed me a complementary cup of boiling water.

As I handed the cup to the crying girl in my car, I said, "Don't spill." She looked up to thank me, but the weather still had her tongue. There was just this frosty moment hanging between us.

Then this Verve song comes on over the stereo, and she finds the words to ask, "What is this?" Right before I pulled away from the store, I looked at her expectant eyes, and I think we both realized that one of the biggest mistakes we'd made, aside from getting together, was breaking up. Some sort of cosmic irony was coming through those speakers, not just another sad existentialist song.

We both went home alone that night.