Saturday, June 19, 2010

101.) Summer Thoughts

Soundtrack Song - blink-182, I Miss You

I was in an infinitely better mood since last night’s game against the Wild—because we won. For the first time almost two weeks, the San José Sharks won a fucking game. I notched two assists in the third, which only helped to bolster my mood. The individual points were great, but they didn’t matter to me as much as that important win for the team. It was a relief, and we hoped that it was indicative of things to come and that we had turned a page and all we had to do now was keep it up and not regress back into that loser state of mind.

Since we were on the road, it wasn’t too difficult for me to adjust to having to call Jo after a game rather than to expect to see her waiting for me. I wanted so badly to be able to walk through the doors of the dressing room and see her leaning up against the wall of the other room, hanging around with the other WAGs patiently for me to shower and change—especially since I wanted to be able to share this big W with her. She may not have been on the ice with me during the game, but she was in my head the entire time in an unconscious way. I had resolved to keep my temper and to not take any penalties.

Prior to that game, the tension and frustration in the locker room had been palpable. No one was happy about the losing streak, and I could sense the shift in attitude and demeanor of every one of my teammates. We had planned to buckle down and clean up our game, and we did. I don’t know we couldn’t have done this sooner to nip the streak in the bud, but I guess later is better than never.

We were in Minnesota for Tuesday’s game, so when I had called Jo to share my good news, I knew I wouldn’t be keeping her up too late since it was only an hour behind Pittsburgh. I was practically bursting with excitement, so I knew I would have called her anyway... but at least I didn’t have to feel guilty about her losing sleep as I talked to her. Jo had been excited for me and the team, and we talked before we had to catch the bus to the airport so we could catch the flight back to San José for our three-game home stand.

My good mood from last night carried over into this morning as I headed toward the arena for practice. I called Jo to see if she wanted to chat before class; I needed to share my happiness with someone else, and Jo was just the person. After all, her advice had kind of influenced my attitude over the past two days. Her words had replayed in my head as I had laced up my skates before the game, and her belief in me never wavered. It was almost like she had deserved that win as much as the Sharks had.

“Hey,” she answered, sounding a little breathless. “How ya doing?”

“Really good. What are you doing? Why do you sound like you’ve just run a marathon?”

Her voice crackled over the line, and I missed being able to hear it in person. “Stop exaggerating. I’m just walking to my car.”

“Are you leaving for class already?”

“No, I had a doctor’s appointment this morning.”

I didn’t know she was going in to the see the doctor, and I instantly started to worry that something was wrong that she didn’t tell me about. “What? Why? Are you okay?”

“Calm down, Kris,” she giggled. “God, sometimes you need to take a chill pill. Remember when I told you I made an appointment at the clinic?”

“Oh,” I replied quickly, trying to cover up the fact that I had, in fact, forgotten. Then suddenly I recalled that day I came back from Montréal and our little... scare. “Oooooh. Yeah, okay, yeah now I remember.”

She laughed again. “I had actually originally made it for last week, but because of my spring break I had to reschedule it.”

“So? Are you going to tell me how it went?”

“Geez, what do you wanna know about my pelvic exam? First, the doctor felt me up and then had me spread my legs and put my feet up in those damn stirrups while—”

“Okay, no need to get so graphic.”

Her smile was audible. She delighted in torturing me sometimes. “Hey, you asked.”

“But I mean, how did it go? You’re okay?”

Jo snorted. “It was just a basic, routine appointment to get checked out and put on the pill. It was really nothing to write home about, babe. The doctor asked about contraception methods, and I told him about, well, you know, our close call and how I had been sick for those few days while we drove up to Shippagan. He said that it was probably a mixture of things, from stress from meeting your mom and Luc’s birthday and being carsick and eating too much and being a nervous wreck about everything. I got some samples, and the doctor said that I should be fine, but if I get sick like that again, then I should get checked, but that was, like, a whole month ago and I’ve been fine since then.”

“Your doctor was a guy?” I asked her, not sure what I was imagining in my head but not liking that she had been checked out down there by a man. That he had looked at her and touched her, even under the pretense of medicine.

“Really? Out of everything I just said, that’s what you choose to focus on? There was a nurse in the room the entire time, as if it weren’t already humiliating enough to have to get examined like that. But when the doc’s a guy, they insist on it. Whatever. But the exam itself was fine. I mean, I’ve been examined by male doctors and female doctors, and guys are always more gentle with you. It’s like they have a reverence for pussy, so they’re more, like, considerate and well, just gentle. But no need to worry your pretty little head. It was very standard and clinical.”

I sighed. “I still don’t like the idea of it. If it’s okay with you, I’d rather not even talk about it anymore.”

“Fine by me. Besides, it’s over and done with it, and I’ve got six months’ worth of samples.” Then she changed the subject. “What’s up with you? Let me guess.... Practice?”

“Yeah,” I confirmed, gladly going along with the new topic of discussion. “I’m not dreading going into the arena today, and it’s a good feeling. You know, in Pittsburgh, we never went on a losing streak all season. The losses were always broken up by wins. We never got really long winning streaks going either, but this was tough to deal with. Really tough.”

“But you got through it, Kris. Smashingly.”

“I guess so. It’s over, and we somehow got through it, so if that’s what passes as ‘smashingly,’ then I guess.”

“But it is. I mean, problems come up, right? It’s about facing them head on.” Her voice got a little quieter. “I mean, that’s what you’ve taught me. You can’t try to cover up or focus on something else, because it doesn’t fix the problem. And that’s what you had to do here. How did you do it?”

“I told you yesterday about my two assists.”

“Yup, you did. But I mean, did you lead by example, or did you say something to the guys before the game? How did you contribute to the team? Not the score sheet.”

Jo was trying to be encouraging, but it made me foolish to say this out loud. “I didn’t do anything. I just focused on playing my game. Kept my feet moving, defended aggressively, and some crisp and clean passes.”

“Just what I figured. You’re a doer, Kris, and not much of a talker.”

Teasing her, I said, “I thought I was talking to you right now?”

“You know what I mean,” she groaned, hiding her laugh. “So obstinate. I just mean that you’d rather do whatever it takes to win than be the one to offer a few words to the room. I know that because it’s the way you approach all things. When there’s a problem, you wanna fix it, not talk about it. Unless talking fixes it.”

It felt so weird and a little disconcerting to hear Jo talk about me like this. I knew that Jo knew a lot about me—everything, in fact—but it still caught me a little off guard that she had me analyzed psychologically. Well, I guess it’s something we do automatically; to hear it put into words, though, was almost like an out of body experience as I was forced to look at myself in a new light.

Now feeling a little self-conscious, I mumbled, “Yeah, well, sitting around and moaning about it doesn’t fix it like finding a solution does.”

“I’m not criticizing you,” she replied, the line crackling for a split second as I made my way into the bowels of the arena. Reception wasn’t great in the Shark tank in certain corridors. “I kind of like it, actually. It’s totally sexy, that take-charge attitude, because it never crosses the line into being controlling.” Her words lightened up the mood of our conversation.

“Well, I am pretty sexy,” I laughed.

“Mmhmm. The sexiest.”

“And as much as I’d like to keep talking about how sexy I am, I’ve gotta start getting ready for practice. I’ll call you later?”

“Anytime.” She quickly and quietly threw the next two words at me. “Miss you.”

Even though I told her three days ago that I didn’t like to hear those words—because it hurt that she had to be far away enough to make her miss me—a part of me felt calm and sated by that sentiment. I missed her, too. Like crazy. And I had to know that she felt the same way as well. Of course I knew, but to hear it expressed was a reassuring reminder. “Miss you, too, Jo.”

“Love ya, Kris. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“And I love you, too. Talk soon.”

We hung up, and I pushed open the heavy door into the lounge as I continued and made my way into the dressing room. I was early but not too early, which would nicely allow me to have some time to sit in my stall and just think about things for a while. Right now, I had plenty to think about, between the playoffs coming up and the summer and an uncertain future.

There were so many questions in my head that needed to be answered. How would the team perform down the stretch? Did we have what it takes to win the Stanley Cup? Could we win it all? Would we? Would my summer be a fun and happy one like last summer was, full of celebration and my very own day with the Cup?

I had been on both sides of winning and losing. My previous offseason had been absolutely incredible. Every day had been like a party, even as I trained for this season and began to defend our championship status. My special day with the Cup had been bittersweet without my best friend there to share it with, but I knew that Luc would have wanted me to have fun with it so that’s exactly what I did. For him, in his honor.

However, the offseason before that one had been miserable. My friend was gone, and each day dawned with a struggle to get out of bed and face the world. It hadn’t been so bad when I was up in Shippagan with Suzanne and Charlene and helping them deal with their grief; that task had allowed me to put my own turmoil aside and focus on them. Helping them gave me a purpose, which I desperately needed in order to make it from one day to the next—from one minute to the next. But once I finally had to confront my grief regarding his death, I found that it required a great effort, which I wasn’t sure I had in me. And then, to make it worse, the team had lost the Cup, and I was torn apart by the “what if” game. What if I wouldn’t have been too devastated to lace up my skates? Luc would have ribbed me mercilessly for letting something keep me from helping my team win—especially if he knew it was because of him. He would never have wanted to hold me back or be the reason I couldn’t find the energy to face the Red Wings.

So, which kind of summer would I be having? A good one, celebrating a win with my supportive girlfriend and family as well as a brand new group of guys? Or a bad one, confronting my mistakes and forcing myself to live with my failures until I could have another chance to rectify them with the coming season?

If that already weren’t enough to worry about, I had to throw another person into that mix: Jo. Joanna Rachelle Anderson, my girlfriend. Whichever extreme I would be faced with this summer, I had to factor her into it. She’d either be reveling in the big win with me, or ruminating and ruing the loss with me. Beyond her support, though, she’d have her own worries and concerns to deal with: namely, all the summer courses she wanted to take to earn more credits, so she could reach her ultimate goal in a timely manner.

Jo was a trooper though all this, dealing with me and all my stupid anxieties and troubles about my future and what that would mean for us. I mean, she wasn’t even scheduling her classes until she knew when my season would be over. Of course, I had insisted multiple times that she do what was best for her—which would be to take classes regardless of the outcome of my year. But Jo said that she would wait, because the longer my season went, the more she wanted to be here with me in San José to observe it, share it with me, and support me through it.

None of that was fair to her, but she didn’t care. Jo didn’t seem to mind at all, in fact. She assured me that she’d cram in her classes some way or another, but the most important thing about this summer was going to be all the time we could spend together. Since I wouldn’t be going on road trips, all our nights could be spent together. And all that was going to be great, at least until the next season was going to begin, when our schedules and locations would be changing again.

All of this was going to cause premature worry. Right now, I had to focus on winning the next game. Not even that—I had to focus on having a good practice so I could be prepared for the next game and in the best possible position to win that next game, against the Stars. They had embarrassed us the last time we had played them, and we had something to prove.

I sat on the bench in my stall, my elbows on my knees and my head in hands as I calmed myself down and began to meditate and get my head right. This is what I do before every practice, morning skate, and game. Bowlby walked in at some point, and I didn’t even notice at first. Eventually, the cacophony he was orchestrating began to break through my concentration.

“Hey, man,” I said tentatively, a little uncertain about why he was making so much noise. “Uh, what’s up?”

He shook his head, obviously reluctant to talk at first. Finally, he replied, “It’s my niece.”

“Samantha,” I thought aloud, but then I made sure to shut my mouth. There were things I wasn’t supposed to know, and I was legitimately afraid of any repercussions that would erupt from any slip from me.

“If it’s possible, I think she’s worse now than she was before. She misses your girlfriend. Sam says that the only person she had to talk to—the only person that would listen to her—is gone now, and she’s more belligerent than before.”

“I’m sure Jo wouldn’t mind at all if Samantha called her, even while she’s back in Pittsburgh. Jo was glad to have helped, in any way.” Okay, I wasn’t sure if that were completely true, because Jo had seemed a little annoyed with Samantha when she had called on her last night in town with me. But then again, that could have had everything to do with the fact that it was her last night here.

“It’s not just that she’s not in town, but that Sammy can’t invite her over and see her to break up the monotony of the day. That’s what I think, anyway.”

Marleau and Nabby walked in, too, and we each acknowledged them with a nod but Blake and I kept talking. “Why don’t you bring her here sometimes? You can keep an eye on her if she’s at the rink.”

“Yeah, and so can everyone else. No, I think she’s better off with Brandy at home.”

More people continued to slowly but steadily trickle in, so Rob and I put a halt on our conversation. He made it very clear that this wasn’t anyone else’s business but his—and I had, and would, keep my mouth shut about it.

6 comments:

  1. Ahh-haaa. Alas, we will soon see what kind of kerfuffle happens with Samantha...

    Awesome post. I hope you now how immense this story is.

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  2. Summer thoughts at the rink? I guess that Kris is looking ahead, and he certainly seems to be in love with Jo since he even keeps her in mind during a game. She's influencing him and even helping him to win.

    Okay I'm glad to hear that Jo's finally at the clinic, about time I say. What does it say about me that I worry about fictional characters? "I’ve been examined by male doctors and female doctors, and guys are always more gentle with you. It’s like they have a reverence for pussy," Okay this is pretty funny, not something I've personally noticed but I'll take Jo's word for. Plus Kris, jealous of the doctor? He's got it bad, poor guy.

    Usually summer is a time of relaxation and ease, but clearly a time of mixed memories and stress for Kris. He's planning things with Jo, and being able to look forward to the summer because of her.

    "When there’s a problem, you wanna fix it,"
    To me, this sums up a lot of what Kris is about. At the beginning of the story, I wasn't sure exactly what he saw in Jo, I thought it was perhaps her wildness or carefree ways. But what he saw was deeper, her vulnerability and her broken parts and he wanted to fix her. Sometimes that kind of relationship can be unhealthy, but in this case there was eventually give-and-take as Jo got to help Kris too.

    Kris may not talk much, but his thoughts are deep.

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  3. "We can live like Jack and Sally if we want" How out of all the Blink song did you pick my fav? Especially since its one of the song that's not the normal Blink songs.


    ANYWAYS... I loved it. And I'm interested to see what happens with Sam... Will Jo come back?

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  4. Awa yay! I'm so happy that Kris and the Sharks finally won a game. It was such a mood lifter for Kris and hopefully it carries over to the rest of their games.

    I'm a little nervous about how summer will pan out for them. I know that Jo will definately come out to visit, but there's so many questions regarding where Kris will be next season. I really hope that they win the Cup and that the Sharks decide to keep him because he seems to be adjusting well out there. Then it'd just be a matter of Jo deciding to continue her education out there and if Kris would be okay with it. I really need to stop speculating so much and just let it happen :P

    Lovely update, Jay(:

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  5. Wow 101 chapters!! I read 100 & 101 together so I'm a little slow on the uptake. I can't imagine the time you have spent writing. The researching. All the details that make the story come alive. The way these characters have developed. I always find beautiful little nuggets that make me laugh, cry, rethink my opinion or ring so true that I'm amazed at your insight. I'm so often left speechless by a thought, a sentence, or a paragraph that reach out and touch me for reasons I don't always understand.
    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

    Okay just two quick things.
    1. Kris being jealous of the Doctor
    **“Your doctor was a guy?” I asked her, not sure what I was imagining in my head but not liking that she had been checked out down there by a man. That he had looked at her and touched her, even under the pretense of medicine**
    Too cute! God I want one of him for my very own.

    2.Thanks for putting her on the pill. You know how I am about responsible sex even with fictional characters!

    As always these were wonderful!

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  6. Oh, Jay.

    Of course, I miss the grand presentation of Chapter 100. But, that of course made me lucky enough to have 101 to dive right into.

    I must say, this little baby of yours has really developped into something incredible. I am soo soo thrilled to find out that we have *months* of Kris and Jo to look forward to because I really feel like a tying up the loose ends and living happily ever after isn't in the very near future with all the uncertainty and everything and I literally get so excited when I see an update in my dashboard.

    Okay, first, so, so, so happy Jo finally went to the doctor although she was seriously vague about everything. I am with msd, the pill is good because not only is it safe and everything as Kris would like, but it can lead to some more spontaneous 'I haven't seen you in months' sex. Am I a pervert for looking forward to it already? Probably. Do I care? Not in the slightest.

    The conversation about Samantha has me intrigued. Maybe now that Samantha has figured out she wants a friend and Jo is unavailable and Kris is the only one around on the team who kind of knows and gets it he falls into that role, chaos ensuing? My bad feeling about Kris liking to fix things, exactly like Jo mentions in this update (foreshadowing?), will not be satisfied until Samantha and her illegitimate child are out of the picture. I'm talking send her back to the boyfriend or whatever. Kris and Jo do not need any more drama with all the uncertainty already in their lives.

    I'm also anxious to see what Jo is thinking now that she is back in Pittsburgh starting to do the whole school thing again and away from all the people she cares about. I really hope her new mantra is holdin' up even though I know sometimes it will be rougher than others.

    Oh ya, and YAY! Sharks win, and Kris gets two more apples! Things are looking up in a shitty situation, which is definitely always nice, especially when Jo's sage advice helped him through everything and kept him out of the box. The two of them are so incredibly interwoven into each other's lives.

    I can't tell you enough how invested I am in this story or how insanely jealous I am of your abilities. 101 chapters is a rediculous feat, and when you account for the detail and precision and psychoanalysis that has gone into every update it is really obvious how much time you put into this, and I guess all I can say is thank you.

    I cannot wait for more from Kris and Jo and to become invested deeper into their relationship.

    Wonderful, as always. :)

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