Sunday, September 26, 2010

132.) One Night

Soundtrack Song - The All-American Rejects, Another Heart Calls

I ran away from the apartment building. I had to get as far away as possible, but I only got about two blocks down the street before I couldn’t go any farther. Crying and panting, I couldn’t breathe, so I slowed down when I got to a bus stop bench and collapsed on it. People were walking by and looking at me funny. With nowhere to go, I did the only thing I could think of: I called Tubby.

He answered on the second ring. “Hey, baby girl. You back in the ’Burgh yet?”

“Yes,” I cried, belying my emotional state with one word. It didn’t take long for Tubby to figure out what was wrong; it never did. He knew that there was only one person alive—one Kristopher Letang—who could get me so upset. As soon as I was able to eke out my location, he told me he was on his way to pick me up and not to move until he got there. He was pulling up by the curb in no time.

We sat in the back seat of his old Explorer. Tubby hugged me and let me scream and cry for a while before encouraging me to explain what happened.

“He doesn’t want me, Tubby. I had it all planned out. I knew he wouldn’t want me to quit school to be with him, so I found the perfect place to transfer. I didn’t even find it.... It just kinda fell into my lap. And I did all the research and planning and figured everything out. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter where he goes, because he won’t let me go with him. But it’s not just his decision!” I rambled, not caring how articulate I was being. I had to get the words out, regardless of how well he could understand them. “It’s a relationship. It’s about the both of us. Not just him. I can go to school wherever I want, and I don’t need his permission.”

Tubby, thinking he had all the answers, replied, “Then do it. Since when do you pay attention to what anyone tells you to do? You don’t, Jo-Jo. You do what you want. Just do it. Apply, and fuck whatever he says.”

“But I can’t. Not if he doesn’t want me there. I can’t move to California with him if he doesn’t want me there! I just don’t get it!”

“Well, maybe you just sprung this on him. Maybe he just needs time to adjust to the idea of you guys living together again for good.”

I exhaled and sniffled as I pressed my forehead against Tubby’s shoulder. “He should have been fuckin’ ecstatic that I wanted to be with him! That I would go with him without him having to ask. I thought that he would have wanted that. Was I wrong?” He didn’t answer me, so I added. “That wasn’t rhetorical. Was I wrong for just assuming that Kris would want me to come with him for next season?”

Tubby sighed. “No, I don’t think you were wrong for thinking that he’d want you to go with him. But I think maybe it wasn’t the best way to go about telling him your plans, or leaving him either....”

“Ugh,” I groaned. I pulled back away from him, disgusted that he wasn’t agreeing with me one hundred percent.

“Stop it. Don’t get mad at me.” Tubby slung one of his thick arms over my shoulder and yanked me back beside him. “I’m just tellin’ you like it is. Just give him some time, okay? He’ll come back. He came back last time.”

His reassurance helped to calm me down; I needed to hear those things. “Just don’t tell him to go away if you see him, all right? Not like last time. I didn’t see him for three weeks, until we just happened to run into him and the guys at that Ming Cho’s for the lunch buffet.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that you ‘just happened’ to run into him,” Tubby mumbled, not looking in my face.

“What do you mean?” I nudged him when he didn’t answer. “Preston, you tell me right now—what did you mean by that?”

When he heard me use his real first name, he knew I meant business. “It wasn’t an accident.” Tubby sighed and laid out a full explanation. “I felt bad that maybe I had scared him off, so I went to the arena one day. I was gonna try and talk to him, but I ran into someone’s girlfriend, Kelly or something—”

I cut him off to correct him. “Kelsey.”

“Uh, yeah, I guess. And she said that Kris could be pretty stubborn, and that he was certain you hated him and didn’t want anything to do with you. So we just figured that the best thing to do was to get you guys in the same room, and let things work out. Because there was no way that you guys could stay away from each other.” I felt the tears welling up in my eyes again as Tubby made me relive that day. I had chalked everything up to serendipity, but it was all due to a mastermind. “Don’t cry again. Don’t cry anymore.”

“Sorry.” I wiped at my eyes.

“Don’t be upset. Everyone in this whole world can see that he’s obviously crazy about you. He loves you, he does. Let him realize what he let walk out the door today, and then he’ll realize that he never wants to let you walk out the door again.”

I wanted to believe Tubby; truly, I did. But that Kris would even protest the idea of me going out to California permanently with him at all had me worried that it wouldn’t be so easily resolved. He should have been thrilled, euphoric. When I explained my plan for him, Kris should have whooped and hollered, hugged me, kissed me, told me that it was the best idea I ever had and that he was proud of me for thinking of it and planning it all.

But he didn’t do any of those things. He had just looked at me with this pained expression and basically told me that it wasn’t going to happen. Kris didn’t even want to talk about it or have a discussion. I was sure that if he could have sat down with me and looked at all the pros, he would have agreed with me. I shook my head and said to Tubby, “I don’t think so. I think he’s made up his mind. And you already know how stubborn he can be.”

“But I don’t get it,” he sighed, squeezing my shoulder and trying to comfort me. “I don’t see how he could possibly see this move as a bad thing. He’s nuts.”

“He doesn’t wanna pull me out of CMU. He remembers when I told him about how I wanted to go to school there and how excited I was to get accepted there, and now he’s afraid that by switching schools, I’ll be letting James down because it’s not what James knew I wanted. I knew that he would want me to stay in school. I knew that, but I didn’t think he would so adamantly think it had to be Carnegie Mellon.”

“What does it matter where you get your degree from, as long as you get the degree?”

“I don’t know. That’s what I thought. I think that he just wants for me what he has done in honor of his friend, Luc. Kris has won the Cup for his friend and accomplished their dream. So he wants me to be able to do the same for James. I mean, I get it, kind of.”

“If you get it, then what’s the big deal?”

Because. I know what I want. And I know what would make James happy, and that would be me being happy. That’s all. Since Kris makes me happy—most of the time, anyway—then I just need to be with him. I don’t want to be away from him for months on end, with only quick little visits to tide us over until summer. That’s not good enough for me!”

“Did you tell him that?”

“Yes! I told him I couldn’t do long distance again. I love him so much, but I can’t be with someone who I can’t see on a regular basis. I made sure he knew that, and he still said that he didn’t want me to leave CMU. That’s why I left. I want to be with him, and that means being with him and not just saying that we’re in a relationship. It’s too hard, and I can’t do it. Can’t. He wants to leave me alone. What boyfriend wouldn’t want his girlfriend with him? Plus, with Kris, I know that it’s more than the just the sex. We’re so connected... I don’t know why he doesn’t want to foster that instead of strain it.”

Tubby rolled his eyes at me, so I continued, “What? You think I’m wrong? Do you think there’s a reason why he wouldn’t want me to go with him to California?”

“No, that’s not it. I just want to think about you guys having sex.”

I smacked his shoulder, thankful for his stupid little joke to help lighten the mood. I needed some humor at a time like this, when everything was so serious. Seriously wrong. I should’ve been hanging out in the apartment with my boyfriend, cleaning and unpacking from our beautiful, tropical vacation and making plans for the summer and for the fall instead of sitting in the backseat of my best friend’s SUV as I cried and yelled about not getting my way.

The idea of having to stay behind in Pittsburgh while Kris left again tore me apart. I couldn’t do another airport send off. I had been under the impression that this trade was just a hiccough, and we only had to get through the rest of that season before we could be together again. Of course, there would always be his road trips, but we would live together or at least live in the same state. That was what got me through those horrible months on my own. And those two months were horrible for me, so there was no way I could do that for seven. And why would Kris even want to try?

Not to mention I had been so happy with how things were slated to pan out. I liked the idea of UCSC and the Lick Observatory. Hell, even winter in a warm climate was inviting. But even if Kris’s contract wasn’t extended by the Sharks and he was given an offer for another team, I would have followed him. To Dallas, Boston, Edmonton, Florida... wherever. And it wouldn’t have felt like a sacrifice to me, because it was something I wanted to do wholeheartedly. Just thinking about it was getting me so sad again.

Tubby sighed and hugged me once more. There wasn’t anything he could do for me except to listen to me sound off on the situation, bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball. I could see Kris’s side, I guess, and I could appreciate that he had my best interests at heart, but I hated that he was blatantly ignoring my wishes. Kris always put others before himself—especially those whom he cared for greatly. That’s what made this whole situation so hard: he was acting out of love, even though it hurt me.

“So what do you wanna do now?” Tubby asked me, bringing me back down to earth. “Do you want me to take you back to your apartment, so you guys can talk it out?”

I shrugged and then shook my head. “No. I’m still really mad, and I don’t think he’s ready to change his mind yet. I know he’s stressed about his contract and what San José’s gonna do with him, but I think that’s why he needs me and why he will need me when the season starts up. He needs me just as much as I need him, but he’s not realizing that. Maybe he’ll figure that out on his own and then tell me what a douche he’s being.”

“Are you going to at least tell him you need some space or something? I can hear your phone vibrating, and I bet that’s him.”

My phone was indicating four missed calls, but no texts. “I really don’t want to talk to him yet,” I mused aloud, shutting my phone off altogether. Part of me wanted to know what he wanted to say to me, because I was curious if he was willing to compromise on this issue at all, or this would be another instance where he would be so adamantly stubborn that I’d never get him to change his mind—but I didn’t want to actually talk to him yet. I wanted to wait for him to text so I could see what he had to say without having to verbally respond immediately.

It was weird feeling like this; I still loved Kris with all my heart and soul, but I was too furious and too hurt to care if he was worried about me. Surely he wanted to know if I was okay and where I was since I had run out of the apartment. Well, I could make him regret his actions by not easing his uncertainty about my whereabouts. It was spiteful and immature and totally bitchy of me, but I didn’t care at that moment. I hurt, so he could hurt, too; this was the consequence of his decision to tell me I couldn’t go out to California with him.

“So, then, what do you wanna do?”

“Wallow in my misery?”

He shook his head at me. “No. I’m not going to let you be upset because Kris is acting like a Summer’s Eve. He’s the one being lame, and you don’t have to suffer for it. Let’s go to Primanti’s.”

“I’m not really hungry,” I mumbled, crossing my arms over my chest. My idea of a good time at this point would have been curling up under a blanket and sleeping for a day or two—as long as I woke up to a message from Kris telling me that he’d support my decision to transfer schools.

“Since when have you ever been not hungry for a jumbo bologna? It’s your favorite.” My traitorous stomach growled, making my friend chuckle softly. “Come on, my treat.”

We got into the front seats, and Tubby drove us to the Strip District to indulge in some of Pittsburgh’s finest. I couldn’t understand why people were giving us funny looks. Once we sat down at the table, Tubby advised me, “Why don’t you go to the bathroom and wash up?”

Then I realized why everyone must have been staring at us—me. I had been running and crying, so I probably looked like I had escaped from an insane asylum. “I’m a mess, aren’t I?”

“Kind of,” he chuckled. “I’ll order for you. Just go clean up.”

It took me a few since I really did look like a total mess, but when I got back from the bathroom, there were a few surprises waiting for me back at the table. First of all, our sandwiches were already made and delivered to our table. Second, Tubby had ordered me a beer. I didn’t know how he managed that, since he wasn’t yet twenty-one and the waitress shouldn’t have brought me one either without carding me, but Tubby was so charismatic and charming that he could pull off anything. And third and lastly, it wasn’t just Tubby sitting at our table anymore.

I wove through the tables, chairs, and other patrons, heading back toward my seat. Sitting down in front of my jumbo bologna sandwich and Miller Lite, I wondered how he had this uncanny habit of randomly showing up wherever I was. “Hey, Dave.”

“Hey!” he greeted back with a smile. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude, but I saw your friend here and just wanted to ask if he knew when you’d be back in town. And he said you were back already. I was here with a bunch of guys from work,” he told me, thumbing in the direction of a group of uniformed EMTs sitting at the bar. What a coincidence. “I just wanted to say ‘hey,’ see how you’re doing.”

Glancing over at Tubby, I wanted to check to see if Dave had any idea how I was doing—that is, if Tubby had somehow informed him about my fight with Kris. Tubby quickly figured out my glance and subtly shook his head, so I knew he hadn’t said anything. “I’m doing okay.” To be safe, I directed the conversation to a neutral topic. “Getting ready for my summer courses to start. Shit, I’m gonna have to buy books.”

When that thought hit me, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t have any money to buy books for school. I had quit my job months ago when I went out to San José for the rest of the postseason and didn’t have much left in the bank—certainly not enough to cover the costs of books and supplies for my upcoming classes. I hadn’t really realized how dependent I was on Kris for all of my everyday needs until that moment.

“I’m not hungry,” I sighed, pushing my sandwich away from me. However, I did take a long swig of my beer. It was bitter yet refreshing.

“You come to Primanti’s, and you’re not hungry?” Dave asked, picking up half of my sandwich and taking a huge bite. I was a bit taken aback by his forwardness, but it had been so long since we had hung out in a setting outside of school that I had forgotten what he was like. “What a waste. This is good.”

“Glad you’re enjoying it,” I muttered, looking at him enviously as he ate my sandwich. I wanted it, but I know I couldn’t stomach it. “I wanna go home.”

Tubby polished off his cheesesteak sandwich and asked me quietly, “Do you want me to take you back to your apartment?”

I turned on my phone to check for messages, hoping that Kris would already be willing to talk about this whole situation with an open mind. There were a bunch of text messages from him by this point, all with increasing worry blatant in his words. They started with where r u? and escalated to please come back. We’ll talk. I’ll make u understand. He wasn’t open to this yet, so I knew I couldn’t head back there so soon. It would seem like I was caving.

“No. I’m not sure where to go, but I can’t go back there yet.”

“Do you want me to take you to your dad’s?” Tubby asked, pressing for my plan. I had no plan; I had nowhere to go. My biggest reason for being so tentative over moving in with Kris was this exact situation. I couldn’t go crawling back to my childhood home after I had left. Shaking my head, I told him no. “I’m sorry, Jo-Jo, but I can’t bring you home with me. My mom—”

“No, it’s okay, Tubby. I don’t want to impose anyway.” I let out a deep breath. “I’ll think of something.”

“What’s up?” Dave asked around his next bite of sandwich. He was looking at me curiously.

Tubby and I exchanged glances. There was no point in lying, but I knew to be selective about what I said. “Kris and I got into a little fight. I don’t feel like seeing him right now.”

Dave cleared his throat. “Do you need a place to crash? I can offer you a couch. It’s not much, but....”

I nodded. I could see an opportunity when it presented itself, and I needed this. This meant I could spend a night away from Kris, which would hopefully make him see what next season could be like if we were constantly apart—or worse, if he still wouldn’t agree and we had to make this separation permanent. If one night away could be symbolic of a lifetime of nights away from each other, then I could make that sacrifice to prove to him that his plan for us wouldn’t work for me. Maybe this could make him see that it wouldn’t for him, either.


  1. Make up already!!! lol I want Kris and Jo back together, I want him to understand and get the stick out of his ass and realize that he has an amazing girl that is willing to move for him just to be with him because being away from him is too painful. She needs to text or call him back and talk about it with open minds soon!!! and I hope Kris gets signed soon :)

  2. omg Jo what are you doing!!!! Staying with Dave is going to make this so much worse between her and Kris.

    This isn't going to be good...

  3. I see badness written all over this chapter... I hope nothing TOO bad happens.

  4. So very unhappy with Kris, can totally relate to how Jo is feeling when talking to Tubby. I hope that the stubbornness that both Kris and Jo can exhibit, at times, doesn't rear its ugly head during this hard time they are having in their relationship.

    Lovelovelove Tubby and am not liking the whole "sleeping on Dave's couch" idea, but as always I am anxious to see where you go with this, and your writing is fabulous as always!

  5. I love Tubby. The 'Summer's Eve' bit had me lololing.

    Oh man, bad move Jo. Dave is the last person she should be staying over the night with. I smell a lot of jealousy and trouble comin'...


  6. Noooooo!!!! Kris is being an ass. "please come back. We’ll talk. I’ll make u understand" Not even we'll talk and work it out. Nope. I'll make u understand.

    He has always thought he knew what was best for Jo. When she was really broken in the begining he did know ways to help her. But his job of saving her from herself is done. He did a great job. She's strong, mature,and not nearly as hedonistic as he thinks she is.

    Dreams change as the situation changes. I'm sure his dream was that he and Luc would play on the same team, probably the Habs but that didn't happen, so his dream changed. When Luc died his dream changed. When he got traded his dream changed. The heart of the dream was always the same, to play in the NHL and win a Stanley cup. The where and how were details that changed with each new situation.
    The heart of her dream is graduating and making James proud of her. CMU was the where, a detail. Staring late, a detail. Changing those doesn't change the heart of her dream.

    Kris needs to look at his new situation and see that finding Jo has been life changing for both of them. Letting her go would be too.
    Pick one.

  7. I really hope her staying with Dave doesn't backfire on her. Please update soon! I love them together and I know that things won't fall into place that easily. That's life and I really love how you write about real emotions and problems that plague all relationships. This isn't always sunshine and flowers.

  8. Ah Tubby saves the day! He comes to her rescue and provides food, beer and good advice. Plus it turns out that the whole Chinese buffet was a set-up, Tubby you're so stealth.

    Jo is pretty confused about everything, and can't understand where Kris is coming from at all. Plus she literally has no place to go other than her dad's, and no stuff with her, she's out on a bit of a limb here. With no money she doesn't have a lot of choices here.

    Too bad it has to be good old Dave, the only person Kris has been jealous of.

    Plus if she's willing to follow him to Edmonton, that's true love.

    What's next?
    I'd like to see how Kris is rationalizing all this, and try to get some sympathy for him 'cause I'm not feeling it right now.

  9. Omg I actually forgot about tubby and Dave! I'm excited for the blowout I feel like they have been teetering on something like this for a while.

  10. MelTing,

    "Plus if she's willing to follow him to Edmonton, that's true love." Too funny!

  11. kris. tisk tisk tisk. *shakes head* go get your woman.
    jo, don't be jaded by EMT dave. he's trubs.
    more please!

  12. omg, pls, update tonite!!!!!!