The next two weeks were long, monotonous, and stressful, especially during Wednesday's home game against the Coyotes. I wanted to be there, but I had two cases due in the latter half of the week—and it seemed like every time I thought I would make progress, the boss would just pile more tasks on top of what I was already handling.
During my lunch break on Thursday, I called Véro and asked how she handled it when the team went on long road trips.
"I do everything I don't get to do when he's around. All the laundry, cleaning, do some shopping to fill up the empty spaces in my closet. By the time I get everything finished, Marc's back. Why, what's up?" she asked me.
I sighed. "I miss him. A lot more than I thought I wish I did. I want to find a way to get him off my mind, because I'll never get through the next week if I can't."
"Well, this is a change from two months ago, when you barely could even admit you liked him."
"Please, V, don't remind me. I'm crazy about him, but I'm so scared that I think about him so much. Does that make sense? I think my brain is fried."
She laughed. "Noelle, this is all normal. When romances are new, you always feel so giddy and high. All you want to do is talk about that special person, even when everyone around you is so annoyed because you won't shut about him. Everything reminds you of him, the world seems darker when he isn't around, and when you're finally together again, nothing else matters. We all go through it."
"When does it stop? When can I expect things to go back to normal?"
"If you're lucky, never," she responded with a laugh. "Be happy you found someone who makes you feel that way."
I groaned. "V, that is not what I wanted to hear. I like that he gets to leave and I have time to myself to accomplish the things I want to. But instead of getting everything done, I miss him too much! I'm turning into those types of girls that I hate and swore I'd never be."
"No, you aren't. Believe me, if you turn into a Lynne, I will let you know. What would you do before you met Sid? Do those things again. Kels is going to come over on Saturday to watch the game. Why don't you join us?"
"Okay. Hey, thanks a lot V. I'm going to take your advice. I'll see you Saturday."
When I hung up with Véro, I sent Sid his normal pregame text, and then a few seconds later, I sent another telling him to watch his back against the Flyers, because I wanted him to keep all his teeth. Games against Philadelphia were always physical, and these rivals especially hated Crosby.
Sidney messaged back and asked: Would u still luv me if I lost a tooth or 2? I laughed and typed: Depends on which ones ;)
Just as Sid fell into a routine on the road trip, I fell into a routine without him. On his game days, I'd send him a message in the afternoon, between his nap and his departure for the arena, watch the game on television, and wait for his call after his interviews. When he wasn't playing, we'd talk around six or seven, most often for only ten or fifteen minutes, and sometimes for an hour and a half.
I listened to Véro's sage advice and booked my free time. Megan and Nat agreed to watch the game with me at Primanti's on Thursday; Eva and I went to the Waterfront on Friday for dinner and a movie; and Saturday was spent at Véro's with Kelsey and Max before the game against Toronto.
During the second intermission of the game, when V and Kels gathered all of our empty beer bottles and walked into the kitchen to make more nachos, Max handed me an envelope.
He shrugged. "The Kid gave it to me right before the team left."
Max looked sad; I knew he was torn about not being on the ice—he wanted to heal, but he wanted to play. During the playoffs last season, he had earned his spot on the second line with Malkin and Fedotenko, and now he had to watch rookies Luca Caputi and Dustin Jeffrey try and fill his void. Instead of opening the envelope and ending my curiosity, I set it aside and talked to Max. "At least they're not on a bad losing streak."
"The Pens. I mean, I know sitting on the couch here will never compare to sitting on the bench there, but at least they're not losing. So you don't have to think how your contributions could help."
"I suppose you've got a point, but it doesn't make this easier." He turned to me, and I saw vulnerability in his eyes. "I mean, what if Cap or the Guy-with-Two-First-Names takes my spot for the rest of the season?"
"You play a big role on this team. You're irreplaceable. Look, who scored goals for the Pens during Game 7?"
"And who was on the ice during the last seconds of the Game 7?"
"Flower, Scuds and Gillsy, Adams, Staalsy, and me."
Smiling I said, "So, what you're telling me is, not only you were the only player to score, but you were trusted enough to be on the ice to prevent the other team from scoring?"
"You're so clutch! Is that proof enough for you that they aren't gonna take your spot?"
I shook my head. "Listen, it's just not going to happen. You've got something those guys don't have—something none of the other players have. You're the heart of the team. Guys like TK are the fast legs, Crosby and Malkin are the hands, and Guerin's the funny bone. The team needs you just as much as you need them, so don't forget, and keep your heart in it." Max didn't respond, but he didn't need to. My words weren't a Band-Aid, but I hoped they provided some comfort to him. "Besides," I joked, "this gives you a little more time to work on your 'bad hands.'"
As he laughed at my reference to Geno's jab made after his first two-goal game in the Finals, I opened my envelope and found a hand-written note and a key. Could this be what I thought it was?
I hope you don't mind that I couldn't do this in person, but it was a spur of the moment idea. As you could probably guess, this is a key to my house. You can use it or not, but I thought it might give you some comfort while I'm gone. I'll see you soon.
So, it was what it appeared to be. I folded the note and put it back in the envelope and held the key in my hand. There was no reason I needed a key; he didn't have a dog that needed to be fed and let out or plants that needed to be watered. There was no reason for me to need access to his house, for instance to get anything I may had left behind. Any reason to visit his home was an emotional one, a need to feel close to him as he was up north in Canada. Always the thoughtful one, aren't you, Crosby? I said to myself. He had games to worry about winning and a trip to pack for, but he took the time to think about how I might miss him and about what he could do to lessen some of that misery. Sidney really was nothing short of perfect.
As the third period started, I wrapped the fingers of my right hand around the key, and it wasn't until the end of the Penguins' first loss of the season, when I got up to grab my purse, that I opened my hand to see the indentations the teeth of the key had left in my palm.
I attached the key to a key chain with my own house key, car key, and various keys to the office. Max pulled me into a big bear hug and said something in French. I silently cursed myself for taking Spanish in high school—as an English major, someone should have convinced me take French since the language contributed to about a third of the English vocabulary—leaving me clueless as to what he said. He thanked me in English, and then added, "Use it. He would want you to."
Raising my eyebrow, I asked Max what he was talking about. He tugged on the sleeve of my Crosby jersey and said nothing further. I waved good night to Véro and Kelsey, put the key in the ignition, and began driving. It wasn't until I put the car in park and got out that I realized I had unknowingly driven to Sidney's house.
Unsure if I should use the key or not, I sat on the steps to his front porch. My elbows rested on my bent knees, and I held my head in my hands. A thousand thoughts ran through my head at once, an experience I was all too familiar with, but only one question stood out: To go in, or not to go in?
I thought about what it would feel like to crawl into his bed and spend the night. His bed was the perfect combination of firm and cushy. The warm comforter, his soft pillow that would still smell like him. Not to mention the shower in his bathroom that we had shared just last Sunday, the couch on which we had snuggled and watched movies, the kitchen where we kissed and shared our true feelings for each other.
At some point, I started crying. What the hell was wrong with me? This was the second time in the span of one week where I spontaneously transformed from the strong, independent person I once was into a stupid, weeping mess. His house would remind me of Sidney and the time we had spent together inside those walls, but Sidney would not be there.
What good were the memories when they would only remind me of what I missing?
Standing up, I pulled my key chain out of my pocket and fiddled with them until I found the key I was looking for. I jammed it back into the ignition and sped off for home.
My Favorite Five (2015)
2 years ago