Tuesday, May 4, 2010

82.) Morning Conversation

Pens win, and a Sharks win! Woo!
And I love that you guys are trying to figure out where this is going and what's going to happen. But I hope it's not
that easy to figure out. I still want to be able to surprise you, or at least not be overly predictable.
Another not-great post. It's been a crazy couple of days with little time to write let alone write well--and let's face it, it's not fun to write when these two can't be together.


Soundtrack Song - Jinxed, Sunshine

I left my physics I class, walked down the hall, and dropped my textbook and notebook on the table so I could plop down on the sofa in the lounge. It was almost noon, so the place was empty because everyone had migrated to the cafeteria. I stretched out on the uncomfortable couch and stared up at the ceiling, feeling tired. I sent Kris a quick text message to wish him luck on his big day, his first skate with his new team. I really hoped that all was going to go well for him, because this was an important opportunity to make a good first impression.

Last night sucked, and I hadn’t slept at all. My conversation with Kris had lasted all of about five minutes before I heard the even, soft snores as he breathed heavily into the phone’s mouthpiece. I’d waited up for his call, knowing that I’d hear from him at some point. It was our routine when he was away, for us to text back and forth through the entire day, but talk at night. I knew he’d be tired and drained, but I wished we could have talked just a little bit longer. Hopefully, tonight, he’d be a bit more awake after his game and we could carry on an honest-to-goodness conversation.

Once he was asleep, I had ended our call, hoped he wouldn’t drool on his phone and break it, and then I tried to sleep myself, but I couldn’t. To make it worse, there wasn’t much I could do to distract myself. I had washed the sheets and vacuumed the rug to get rid of the residual glitter, and then I ended up cleaning the whole damn apartment at two in the morning because I was so fucking bored.

Yawning as I lay there on the couch, I debated on what to do with myself in the present. There was no point in going to the library, since I didn’t have any homework to work on; I was ahead in all my classes because I had already worked ahead. I didn’t have anyone to hang out with. I’d spent all day yesterday hanging out with some of the girls after Kris left, and we ate ice cream and watched Pineapple Express so I could laugh and get my mind off Kris’s trade. It worked, for a little. But I was a mess, digging at the colorful pieces of cake and swirls of blue icing in the carton of Turkey Hill ice cream, mindlessly eating until my stomach hurt and I had perpetual brain freeze.

The girls were pretty amazing with me, letting me cry and hugging me when I needed it and even putting up with my rants and rhetorical questions about why Kris had to go over any other player. They handed me tissues and commiserated with me and tried to console me, but they couldn’t truly understand. Heather and Véro, who I hadn’t really spent a lot of time with before today, would probably never have to deal with their boyfriends getting traded, and maybe Kelsey would someday, but until she did, none of them could possibly understand fully what I was going through.

Even if they had had firsthand knowledge, I still doubted that they’d get how Earth-shattering this was for me and Kris. There’s no doubt in my mind that they all loved their boyfriends, but I sincerely doubted that any of them had the type of connection that Kris and I shared. We had both lost people we cared deeply about, but we had also reached the point in our relationship where there were no secrets. We shared everything. Kris had made me strong, or stronger at least, and I had showed Kris that it was okay to be vulnerable sometimes and to open up and rely on someone else when things were overwhelming.

Still, I tried to be gracious towards the girls for their help and support and not be overly bitter that Kris was the one who had been traded. I mean, it’s not like it was their fault. When TK returned at the end of the day—and I could tell by the way he slunk in as stealthily as possible that Kelsey had given him strict instructions to stay away during our girls’ afternoon—I had to leave. It wasn’t Tyler’s fault either, but I just couldn’t be around someone from the team. At the end of the day, I headed back to my cold, empty, lonely apartment, knowing that each of those girls would be spending their night in bed with their respective boyfriends and I wouldn’t be.

One thing I had done yesterday, after leaving Kelsey’s, was find a picture of Kris to add to my locket. When Kris had given me this gold necklace for my birthday, it had been empty. His intention behind the gift was so I could keep my brother close to my heart; I had cut out a picture of James from the team photo in the yearbook to slide into it and wore it every day since then.

But I had kept the other side empty and hadn’t really bothered to think about it. I mean, I didn’t even look inside at the picture because it made me sad, and I would just play with the charm on the chain when he was on my mind. So, of course, it never occurred to me to fill the empty slot. But last night, I had rummaged through Kris’s stuff and found an extra team picture of his which I could cut up. While it wasn’t up-to-date, it was something, and now I carried around a picture of my boyfriend, too. Now, I had my two favorite men with me at all times.

I knew if I could just get my mind off the fact that he was gone, it wouldn’t suck so bad. Because it wasn’t just that Kris was gone, but that he was gone and not coming back. Even though I’d be seeing him in eleven days—no, make that ten—he wasn’t going to be coming back to his home. To our home. Things weren’t ever going to be the same here, and it made me wonder if our relationship was going to stay the same, or if it would change, too. How much would the change to his career change “us”? Or did “us” transcend something so petty?

Huffing again and forcing my mind to stop thinking about yesterday, I stretched my arms over my head and tried to get comfortable on this stupid sofa. For a lounge, none of the furniture was comfy, which wasn’t exactly conducive to lounging around. You’d think with the high rate of tuition, the university bigwigs could afford to get something nicer for the students, especially the commuters. But the lumpy couches were a great deterrent to a lot of people, which meant I was alone—and I liked that. I was melancholy and yearned for solitude.

I blinked as a face came into my view, standing right over me. Before I could focus my eyes and recognize said face, it spoke, “You do realize that three out of the four times I’ve seen you, you’ve been flat on your back?”

I didn’t even have a response for him. That was such a bizarre, senseless comment that I could only scrunch up my face and look at Dave like he was retarded. “Excuse me? What is that supposed to mean?”

He shrugged. “Just an observation, that I’ve hardly seen you vertical. I mean, first, there was your accident. And then, it was like a scene from some horror flick called ‘When Doors Attack.’ Now, you look like you’ve been steamrolled.”

“Wow, geez, you sure know what to say to make a girl feel special,” I spat out sarcastically, rolling my eyes.

“Eh, I try,” he answered, plopping down in one of the chairs opposite the couch. So much for my sweet solitude. “So, what’s with the long face?”

“Are you really going to do this?” I groaned, shaking my head with exasperation as Dave looked back at me with question marks in his eyes. “You can obviously see that I’m not interested in talking to anyone right now, yet you’re going to sit there and try to engage me in a conversation that I’m not going to take part in?”

“Um, yes?” His response sounded more like an unsure question than an affirmative answer. I just shook my head again before I focused back up at the ceiling. “I’m just trying to be nice. No need to bite my head off.”

Glancing over at him, I wondered if I should feel bad or not. I guess I shouldn’t have been taking my foul mood out on him. I mumbled my apology. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he replied, the glint back in his eyes. “So, do you wanna tell me what’s got you down?”

I crossed my arms over myself and bit my lip. Did I want to go through this all over again? At this point, I think I was all cried out, but it still hurt to think about Kris all the way across the goddamn country. “Not really.”

“Oh, come on. I bet it’ll make you feel better,” he coaxed.

Sighing, I thought about giving him a piece of my mind about trying to butt into my business, but maybe he was just trying to be nice. “My boyfriend—”

“Yeah, yeah, Jo, I know all about Mr. Great Boyfriend. You don’t need to keep ‘subtly’ bringing him up when I try to talk to you,” he grunted. This time, he was the one to roll his eyes at me. “I got your point the first time.”

His attitude irked me, and I shot daggers at him. “Wow, all I was doing was answering your fucking question, no need to bite my head off.”

“Oh, ugh, sorry,” he muttered, and it made me smile to see the tables turned. He scratched his head and looked sheepishly to the side. “Uh, continue.”

Now, I felt like I had to tell him so I could rub it in his face, that this was a real issue and not me shooting him down again. “He was tra—” I cut myself off, catching myself before I said traded. If I said that, then I’d have to explain that my boyfriend was a professional hockey player—and let’s face it, that’s a very small pool of the population, so the chances of a girl like me dating a pro player, especially Kris Letang, were slight. If I flat-out told Dave that he was my boyfriend, he’d probably shove me into his ambulance and take me straight to the psych ward of the closest hospital. So I quickly recovered and said, “Transferred. For, uh, work. Yeah, he was transferred.”

“That sucks. Where to?”

Again, I tried to be vague. “The west coast. His, uh, company has offices all over North America.” The NHL was like a company, right? They were in business to make money. “And his particular skill set was needed elsewhere, so he left Pittsburgh.”

“Sounds like an important guy,” he mused out loud to himself. “How long is he gone? Or is this a permanent move?” he asked, looking genuinely interested as he leaned back against the back of the chair and tilted his head.

“It’s indefinite, at this point. All up in the air,” I sighed. And that was totally true. I didn’t know when his season would be over. There were so many options and possibilities for what would happen by the end of April and beginning of May. If the Sharks kept advancing into the playoffs, I would undoubtedly go out to California and be there to support him. If they didn’t, then I’d assume he’d come back to Pittsburgh to spend the rest of the summer with me while I took summer courses. But I was getting ahead of myself; I needed to take this one day at a time.

“So, are you and Mr. Great Boyfriend ‘taking a break’ or doing the long-distance thing?”

I looked at him again like he was retarded. Maybe he thought he was helping me out or being helpful, but I found him incredibly annoying. “Long distance,” I said with indignation. “Breaking up isn’t an option for us.”

“Whoa,” he chuckled, holding his hands up in the air like he was surrendering. “It was just a question. Best of luck to you both, because you guys are gonna need it. The distance thing is hard on a lot of couples, and not everyone makes it through. My high school girlfriend went to school in Florida, because she was majoring in marine biology, and we didn’t even make it to Thanksgiving during our first semester.”

“Well, sorry, but that’s you and your chick, not me and Kris. You know how your body gets thirsty or craves salt when you’re dehydrated?” I pondered aloud, waiting for Dave to nod before I finished my thought. “Well, my soul craves Kris, and I need him just like my body needs water and minerals and stuff to survive.”

He laughed. “That’s either incredibly romantic or incredibly cheesy.”

I shrugged and smiled, mostly to myself; I didn’t care if he thought the notion was absolutely ridiculous—it didn’t matter, because I knew the truth of the situation. “We don’t have a normal, regular relationship. It’s more than just about love. Honestly, I don’t expect you to understand, and I don’t care if you do.”

“Fair enough, I guess. But, if that’s the case, then I don’t get it.”

“Get what?” I pressed him, pushing myself into a sitting position. Now I was the one searching and examining his face for his meaning.

“Well, you’re all waxing poetic, but if you guys are so perfect together and you’re so confident that you two are gonna make it through the long-distance crap... why are you so sad?”

“Uh, duh, I miss him,” I scoffed. “Aren’t you pre-med? Aren’t you supposed to be smart? He’s a big part of my life. I met him at work, so when I go in tonight I’m going to be thinking about him. I’ve become friends with his friends, so I’ll be thinking of him when I hang out with them. Every other time he’s been on the road, I always knew his schedule and when he’d be coming back. It always sucked when he had to leave, but, like, I knew that came with the territory because of his job, ya know? I didn’t expect him to get tra—uh, transferred. It’s different, him being gone this time, because he wasn’t supposed to go away. And I know we can get through it, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know how hard it’s gonna be.”

“Well, don’t you have your own friends? Your own thing you can do while he’s away?”

It was going to be hard to explain this to Dave. How could I tell him that my old friends were stoners, and I didn’t do that anymore? Or that my “own thing” was school, which I wouldn’t even be doing if Kris hadn’t encouraged me to? He was so wrapped up in my life and so involved. If I told Dave that, he’d no doubt understand why this was such a big deal to me, but then I’d have to go into details about why I needed Kris’s encouragement so badly in the first place. And that was something I wasn’t ready for.

So I gave him an easy answer. “Well, my best friend goes to school out in Philly.”

“Sounds like you need more friends,” he said with a smile. “Luckily for you, I know tons of people. A bunch of my roommates and friends and I were gonna go out and watch the hockey game tonight. Do you like hockey? You should come.”

My initial reaction was to question his motives behind asking, but this was a different proposition. Before, it had been coffee; this time, it was to go out with a group of people. It sounded innocent enough, even though I wasn’t too keen on the idea of hanging out with people I didn’t know. But then I wasn’t sure about the activity—I already had an invite to watch the game live, since Heather called this morning and asked if I wanted to come hang out with the girls, but I still didn’t know if I’d be going. I didn’t know if I could handle watching the Pens play without Kris on the team. It was bad enough still working at the arena and having to be in the atmosphere, when I wanted to give the entire Penguins organization two middle fingers.

In the end, I decided to blow him off. “Can’t. I work. Maybe we could just hang tomorrow? I have class ’til four.”

“Oh, can’t,” it was his turn to say. “Got a date.” I must have given him a funny look because he laughed heartily and replied, “What? You think because you shot me down that my poor little heart shriveled up and died? That no one would want to date me?”

“No,” I quickly mumbled. I felt like I should have apologized, but I wasn’t sure what to say. It seemed kinda weird to me. I had never gotten the impression that Dave was a playa, but I suppose it had been about two weeks since he’d asked me out for a coffee and I said no.... In fact, maybe it was conceited of me to assume he wouldn’t be dating someone else. Better yet, then it wouldn’t be weird if I did end up hanging out with him; I wouldn’t have to worry about any ulterior motives.

Just then, my phone vibrated in my pocket. I smiled, knowing it just had to be Kris. It was a few minutes before noon, meaning he was probably at the arena getting ready before his morning skate. And it was him, which put the biggest smile on my face. It kind of felt like when we started dating and I looked forward to our every interaction. Except as happy as I was to hear from him, I was nervous for him and anxious to take this call.

Dave could tell. He looked at me holding my phone and looked at my face. “Mr. Great Boyfriend, I presume?”

I nodded, not even waiting for him to leave for me to accept Kris’s call. Rolling onto my side on the couch until I was facing the backrest, I greeted him, “Hey, babe. I was just thinking ’bout you.”

“I was surprised to get your text. It’s Tuesday, right? Don’t you have class in the morning?”

“It’s almost noon here, Kris.”

“What?” I could hear his voice get faint as he took the phone away from his ear to look at the screen and said, “What time is it?” Then he was at his normal volume again, adding, “Sorry. I guess I’m not thinking straight.”

“It’s okay. You’re too pretty to be good at math. Just remember, add three for Pittsburgh time,” I teased, giggling a little and completely sucked into the sound of his voice. The world could’ve ended, and I wouldn’t’ve noticed.

“Wow, I forgot how funny you are.” I laughed at that. “I just figured I’d call you since I got your message. The rest of the team’s starting to pour in now, but I wanted to say good morning. And I love you.”

“Aw. I love you, too, Kris.” I bit my nail, getting serious. As much as I hated him being gone, I couldn’t forget that he was the stressed one, starting over from scratch. I had to be there for him for support. “How’s your morning going? Good so far?”

“Uh, yeah, so far so good. Met a few more of the guys, sat in my stall for a while and I tried to get used to it. It’s just so... different.”

“Different doesn’t mean bad, though, right? It’s just different.”

“Yeah,” he sighed. I could just picture in my head that he had tilted his head back and was looking up at the ceiling. Probably running a hand through his hair if he wasn’t wearing a hat. “Gotta see how practice goes this morning before I can say anything for sure, but everyone’s been nice and welcoming. They seem to be glad I’m here.”

“Of course they’re glad you’re there. You’re a great player, you’re gonna do great, and you’re gonna make the Sharks the winners in this trade. They wanted you, remember?”

“Yeah.”

“So just go and play your heart out like you always do. Play for Luc, like you always do. Just be yourself and play your game, because that’s what they want you to do. That’s why they got you.”

“Yeah, I guess. You’re right.”

“You say that you’re like you’re surprised. Of course I’m right. I’m right a lot of times,” I chuckled, knowing that that was far from the case. I had made far too many mistakes with my own life, but I knew what was right for Kris.

“I just like hearing you say how good I am.”

“Well, I’ll tell you how good you are whenever you need to hear it. You got this, babe. Show ’em what you can do.”

“I will. Thanks, Jo. I mean it. Thanks for everything. For supporting me, for encouraging me, for sticking with me through this. I... I can’t even tell you what it means to me. You’re so good to me. I love you.”

I felt my eyes begin to tear. I whispered, “Love you, Kris, but you don’t ever need to thank me. I’m here because I wanna be. Don’t ever doubt that.”

There was a loud noise on his end of the line, punctuated by loud, hearty, masculine laughter. “I’m sorry, but I think I gotta go. I think everyone’s here.”

“No prob, go do what you gotta do. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.”

“When can I call you? You working tonight?”

“Yeah. I should be finished by the time your game’s done. I won’t be able to sit down and watch it, but I’m gonna follow it.”

“Is it gonna be weird for you, to go into work?”

I wondered why he was still carrying on this conversation with me, when he already said he had to go; but I wanted to drag this out, too, so I answered his question. “Well, I don’t think anyone knows we’re dating, so that part of it’s okay, but it will be weird to be there. It’ll just remind me of you.” I paused and wasn’t sure if I should mention this, but I did anyway—mostly because I think I wanted to keep him on the line. “Heather invited me to the game, but I don’t think I can go.”

“Do you have too much homework or something?”

“No, I don’t think I can watch. That would just be too hard.”

“I think James would be mad if you passed up an opportunity to go see his favorite team play,” he said softly, a lighthearted lilt in his voice. I reached up for my locket, finding the charm under my shirt and playing with it on the thin, gold chain. Kris added, “I’d hate to think of you sitting at home, alone. Go, Jo. Go be around the girls and be around people and have a good time with them. Forget about me, and just enjoy the game for the sake of the game, okay?”

“I don’t know if that’s possible...” I sighed.

“Try. I know you can do it,” he teased. “And now I really gotta go. I don’t want to make a bad impression because I was late.”

“And certainly not on account of me. Good luck, love you.”

“Love you. I’ll talk to you later.”

And with those last words, he hung up and I felt sad all over again. It was funny how elated I felt when he called and how dejected I was when our conversations ended. Just ten more days.

“Kris as in Kris Letang?”

I hadn’t realized I wasn’t alone. I thought Dave had left when I took my call to give me privacy. Slowly, I rolled back over and sat up on the couch, blinking and staring at him. He was just looking back at me. “Um....” I didn’t know how to answer because I was a little scared of his reaction. Now how would his motives change? Would he still want to be my friend, or would he want to be my friend because of my connections?

“The same Kris Letang who was traded to San José?”

Totally caught in my white lie, I merely nodded.

“Just sayin’, if you don’t want that ticket for tonight’s game, I’ll take it,” he quipped, flashing his pearly teeth as he smiled widely. His eyes were sparkling like they did when he joked around with me, and I knew then that Dave was too much of a stand-up guy to let this affect our budding friendship, which could really come in handy in the following ten days.

8 comments:

  1. Hmm I had a sinking feeling he'd show up at some point... I was preparing myself for the phone sex chapter. Not sure that I like Dave, but as he said himself, Zoe does need more friends.

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  2. Can I just say that you seem to be a good luck charm in the real world? The Sharks are tearing it up ever since "Kris went there". Which could make for a cool alternate universe final. I wish you had traded him to the Canucks instead.

    Anyway, I like Dave a lot. He's pretty funny in a sarcastic way and I wouldn't mind hearing more of their back and forth chat. Plus the fact that Jo can actually forget he's there while she's talking to Kris is enough of a hint that she's not interested. And Dave didn't try to lock her up when he found out it was Kris Letang, so Jo can't be as out of Kris's league as she thinks.

    Performance under stress? Well done Jay!

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  3. "Zoe"? Oh haha, India, you're getting your stories mixed up!

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  4. uh! I just hope Kris and Jo's relationship stays solid, ya know?


    -elle

    P.S I want to know what the loud noise and man-laughter was all about when Jo was on the phone with Kris.

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  5. Not boring, definitely not boring. I am totally not opposed to Dave if he is going to fill the friend role. She has always had someone, James and Tubby and Kris. She can't just be a big hermit and I can totally understand how hanging out with the team or the girlfriends would be wierd. And work... ugh, poor Jo.

    I'm anxious to hear about Kris' first day, and to see what happens with Dave, is he pretending to have a date to get closer to her? Or, maybe now that he knows it's Kris Letang something else devious will motivate him? I doubt it, I mean, he was interested before and he sat down to be friendly before he realized it was Kris Letang she was dating. I have to admit, as much as I wax poetic... and if you've read my last update you know I like to get my rhyme on, I laughed hysterically when Dave called her on being cheesy. I really like him, so I know I screwed up Steph/Jen for you, and you had faith in her, but please... I like Dave. :D

    I am also intrigued to find out what the bang/laughter was on Kris' end.

    Zo/Jo - I never really made the connection 'til the slip... haha!

    Great update. I'm anxious for more!

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  6. I was so excited to see Dave show up..it was a little weird but from the first paragraph, just from her being at school, I thought he'd show up!
    I like Dave..he seems harmless..good kid..why is Jo always sooo mean to him! hahaha

    I vote she goes to watch hockey with Dave and his amigos : )

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  7. Ohhh Dave. I'm honestly not sure what my opinion of him is. Like I want to believe that he's just a sweet guy, but I feel like he's gonna put the moves on her at some point :P Until then though, she just really needs a friend.

    Kris and Jo's conversation was so sweet. Gah! I hate that they're apart, it makes me so sad. However, when they have those little cute moments, it makes it all better. I hope things start to get easier for them and WOOT WOOT ten days!(:

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  8. Ok, as I go...

    "At the end of the day, I headed back to my cold, empty, lonely apartment, knowing that each of those girls would be spending their night in bed with their respective boyfriends and I wouldn’t be."
    ^^ Ughhh... what a horrible realization! I can't imagine what that must have been like for her... and she handled it better than I would have, I don't think I could have been around any of them. I mean, I know it's not their fault but, I'd be so jealous and angry...

    "Now, I had my two favorite men with me at all times."
    ^^ That just makes me really sad... like really sad. I feel so bad for Jo. I mean, part of me is like... you have a boyfriend that loves you more than ANYTHING so that should be enough to get you through the day. But the other half is having a hard time imagining not being with that person all the time.

    "Again, I tried to be vague. “The west coast. His, uh, company has offices all over North America.” The NHL was like a company, right? They were in business to make money. “And his particular skill set was needed elsewhere, so he left Pittsburgh.”"
    ^^ HAHA I really loved her trying to pretend like the NHL is a normal job... and she actually does a good job of it, but I won't lie... I still don't like Dave.

    "“Of course they’re glad you’re there. You’re a great player, you’re gonna do great, and you’re gonna make the Sharks the winners in this trade. They wanted you, remember?”"
    ^^ Ugh, Dave? I know we talked about this before but all I can think is... 'is he gonna find out about Kris like... NOW, now?'

    And he still wants to hang out... not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I'm sure he wants to be friends but at the same time, he thought she was pretty enough to ask out before and I can't see that changing any time soon... I just hope he doesn't try to take advantage of her situation.
    Luckily for all of us though, Jo isn't the kind of girl to be taken advantage of! At least not when she's sober... oh god... please let her stay sober! haha

    Fantastic as usual my dear =)

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