I THINK IT was on one of those austere days in August around 5 years ago when I received a cryptic e-mail from an anonymous source. The mail contained a single quote (which I am posting here), nothing else. No covering note, no name, no forward address except for the source’s e-mail add: firstname.lastname@example.org. Curiosity had gotten the better of me so I immediately posted a reply basically saying that what he/she sent was a beautiful quote. I also requested the sender, in a rather roundabout way, to, at least, reveal his/her identity.
Two days later, I received another e-mail from the same sender. Within is another quote (which I am also posting here) bearing no connection whatsoever to its predecessor, or so I thought. As before, I responded with the same inquiry only to discover the next day that my last transmission bounced back, the sending address apparently gone along with any chance of unraveling the sender’s “ghostly” identity.
I quickly ran a web search for the mystery quotes’ origins. My scan ultimately led me to an interesting and familiar name: Neil Gaiman, the bestselling author of American Gods, Anansi Boys and Stardust. As it turned out, both quotes came from Gaiman’s “The Sandman” series. Frankly, I was puzzled why I was chosen as the quotes’ recipient, especially since, as far as I know, they had absolutely no significance to me at the time. Was I an unwilling target of a crude book marketing scheme? Or was it just a twisted prank devised by an office mate who had too much time on his/her hands?
If you’ve read any of the following “Gaiman Twins” (as I have since fondly called the 2 quotes) before, then you’d know that they are more than worth the price of real estate this part of the blogosphere. And if you’ve come this far, then might as well turn you over to my good pal Mr. Neil Gaiman for the time being and (jealously) let him hold your hands as he briskly walks you through two stabbing thoughts of pain and how we cope with it in our own different ways. In the dark, never let go of him for it’s gonna be quick. Hold on to him, tighter than you’ve ever held anyone before, even tighter than you’ve ever held my hands this far.
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life . . . You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”
– The Sandman #65
“Whatever happened to me in my life, happened to me as a writer of plays. I’d fall in love, or fall in lust. And at the height of my passion, I would think, ‘So this is how it feels,’ and I would tie it up in pretty words. I watched my life as if it were happening to someone else. My son died. And I was hurt, but I watched my hurt, and even relished it, a little, for now I could write a real death, a true loss. My heart was broken by my dark lady, and I wept, in my room, alone; but while I wept, somewhere inside I smiled. For I knew I could take my broken heart and place it on the stage of The Globe, and make the pit cry tears of their own.”
– The Sandman # 75
(the devil in the details)