The yelling started as soon as I got in the door. First, I was bombarded with questions (Where have you been? Why didn't you call to let us know you wouldn't be coming home?) and then lectured (We were worried sick about you! We came home last night to find you gone, no idea where you were, and now you're strolling in the next day, practically afternoon, like it's no big deal.).
"I'm twenty-four," I whined. This was not the first time I had taken part in this argument, and it always started the same way. It always ended the same way, too, but that never stopped me from putting up a fight. "I'm a grown woman. I pay rent. I should be allowed to come and go as I please without getting the third degree from my parents."
My mother sighed. Textbook. "Yes, you are an adult. But you're still living with your parents, who love and care for you. We worry about you—it's in our job description."
My dad quickly added, "And as long as you're under our roof, that's the way it will stay."
I rolled my eyes. Moving out seemed like my best option, but apartments were expensive in this area, and I couldn't afford to move out on my own. I knew finding a roommate was always an option, but I hadn't met anyone I was compatible enough with to make that commitment and sign a lease with.
"It was just kind of a spur of the moment thing, I didn't know that was going to happen until late into the night. I didn't want to wake you up," I lied, knowing that the thought to call or leave a message never crossed my mind. "Besides, you don't take your cell phone with you to bed, so you wouldn't have known until morning anyway."
She pursed her lips, following the routine of our argument perfectly. "That doesn't matter. It would have been nice if you had considered letting us know."
"Okay, I'm sorry that I was busy last night and didn't call to let my mommy and daddy know that I wasn't going to be coming home."
"Okay, there's no need for the attitude," my dad said. "I think we're very accommodating, but we're just asking for a little consideration in return. When you're living on your own, you can do whatever you want, party all night and never come home. But until then, you'll do as your mother asks."
"All right. Sorry," I grumbled under my breath.
With the lecture over, my mother finally realized that I was standing before her in clothes that were not mine in a pair of high heels, holding a dress that she had never seen before.
"So, what did you do last night?" she asked, her interest piqued.
I shrugged my shoulders, relishing in the turn of conversation. She was quick to yell, and now she wanted me to gossip with her as if the earlier argument never happened. I was in no mood to share the events of my evening with her. "Just went out with some friends," I said, purposely being obscure. I turned and left the kitchen, heading up to my room to hang up my dress and take off my heels.
I hung the dress on the back of the closet so I could see it, and I sat on my bed to think about the past twenty-four hours. Last night had been a roller coaster of emotions. I had been elated and scared, worried and nervous, and deliriously happy. Looking back, I was in awe of myself that I had been as calm as I had been. After all, I was a hockey fan, a Pens fan, but the guys were so easy-going and fun-loving that I forgot who they were and what they did. I had a great time.
But there was so much about the previous night that also left my mind reeling. There was Véro's comment, which I had cut off, and then she refused to tell me the rest. What was the only reason? Then, there was the conversation between Max and Sid that I had overheard. Bad timing, but it was only for a few weeks. The season was a month away—is that what he was talking about? And then there was Max's talk with me. He wanted to make sure we were just friends. I wondered where that came from.
And, of course, there was that damn kiss. Yes, it was good. At least, I thought so. Maybe Sidney didn't enjoy it, and that's why he didn't bring it up. But I was glad he didn't bring it up, because I didn't want to talk about it. We were intoxicated, and anything we did while under the influence didn't count. Even though those drinks broke down my defenses enough to allow me act on my feelings, I told myself that it didn't count. It didn't count, and I was going to pretend like it didn't happen.
Now that I had made up my mind about that, I felt a little better. I was disappointed about the conclusion I had made, because deep down, I had wanted it to mean something. I liked feeling desired, feeling wanted, which in turn made me feel attractive and sexy. It didn't matter who it was that liked me, but the fact that it was a gorgeous man only helped to boost my self-confidence. So it was hard for me to come to my own conclusion that the kiss meant nothing.
I realized I was too caught up in my emotions, and I was stuck in my head. This whole ordeal was too overwhelming. Since I didn't have a lot of experience with forming lasting relationships—or forming relationships, period—I wasn't sure what to make of the situation. I did the only thing I could think of: I called for advice.
The only person I could think of was Véro, but I felt nervous calling her. After all, this was what she wanted to hear. However, I knew that she would understand. I found her name under my listing of contacts in my cell phone and called her. It went to her voicemail, so I left a quick message.
"Hey, V, it's Noelle. I know you're heading home to Quebec today, so I hope you have a safe trip home. Um, and if you have some time, can you call me? I need to talk to you. Thanks, talk to you soon."
I thought about calling someone else, like Eva, but I know she would be just as encouraging as Véro; all I wanted was to talk to someone who validate my feelings. New relationships are confusing and uncertain, and I just wanted someone to listen.
My mind needed to concentrate on something. Thinking about Sidney wasn't doing me any good. I walked into my study and picked up something to read, forcing myself to soak in every word.
As the week progressed, I forced myself to delve into work. The boss called me his secretary, but I did so much more than answer phones and write letters to clients. I got in early and stayed late, tackling whatever assignments the boss wanted to give me and some extra work from Steve, too. I learned how to research cases for clients, and soon I was even working on the legal documents to be filed. Two weeks after I rededicated myself to my job, the boss promoted me to a legal assistant, and he hired a new girl that I trained to take over my secretarial position.
I partially attributed my newly found work ethic to how I stopped checking my e-mails at work. I'd log in during my lunch break, always to see a new response from Sidney. We'd picked up right where we left off, sending short messages back and forth just to let each other know that we hadn't forgotten about the other. None of our e-mails said much of anything; we typically just described our day, talked about a movie coming out that we wanted to see, or I complained about my day at work and he talked about his training and the up-coming season.
By early September, I had started to push him out of my mind. I didn't want to, but it was best for me to concentrate on the reality I was in than live in a fantasy world involving Sidney Crosby. We didn't speak on the phone, or if we did it was only for a few moments. Sometimes we texted back and forth, but mostly we e-mailed. He was in Canada, and knowing I wasn't going to see him face-to-face made it easy to forget who I was writing to.
I talked to Véro occasionally, and I had told her about the kiss. I couldn't lie to her about it, and she was glad to hear that I had "accepted my true feelings." She listened as I explained my trepidation. V was surprisingly understanding and didn't look into the future.
"Whatever happens from here on out, will happen. At least you admitted to yourself how you felt, and you took that jump. That's the hardest part," she said.
Sidney and I didn't talk much while he was at training camp, because that time was reserved for team bonding. The Penguins had lost a few players and gained a few, and they needed to feel like a unit before hitting the ice fully dressed in the same uniform.
In one brief e-mail, Sidney thanked me. You're so understanding of my schedule, and I appreciate that. Hockey is so demanding, and it's hard to find a balance between my personal life and my professional life. By the way, I have great seats for you for our first home game. Are you bringing anyone? Let me know how many tickets you need.
Luckily, the first home game was on a Friday night, so I didn't have to worry about a late night and making it to work the next day. The Thursday prior to the game, I made sure I had Max's shorts washed and in my car. Since the boss wouldn't be in the office on game day, I dressed in my Talbot jersey, a pair of blue jeans, and my black Chuck Taylors.
Steve, too, dressed for the occasion, in his Malkin shersey. He was jealous that I was going to the game. I had invited him, in my desperate search to find someone to accompany me, but everyone had a previous engagement or didn't want to go.
At 4:30, Steve told me to leave early.
"Are you sure?"
"Absolutely. You've put in a lot of long hours lately. Besides, traffic is going to be bad, and you're going to be lucky to make it on time."
"You're the best, Steve, and this time I mean it!"
As I headed out the door and to my car, I sent a message to Sid. On my way. Can't wait for the game! Play well.
I slid into the driver's seat and turned the car on. My phone buzzed, and I saw his reply. Go to the main gate and tell them who you are. They'll give you your ticket, and I have a surprise for you, too.
As I pulled out of the parking lot, I was too excited to sit still. My first real hockey game and a surprise? Could the day get any better?
My Favorite Five (2015)
2 years ago