I truly love you guys.
FYI, to those of you devoted few who specifically check back for updates, they're scheduled to automatically publish at seven in the evening, eastern standard time. And ha, I don't have a life. I prefer the one I construct with my pen.
In honor of Noelle's missed Steeler game:
And now onto your regularly scheduled post....
When I got home after my awkward confrontation with Sid, I crawled right into bed. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I fell right to sleep, and only woke up when my mother entered my room. Her work day ran from 7:30 to 3:30, so she was always home in the afternoon before my work day ended at 5.
"Hey, sweetie, what are you doing home?"
"I took the day off work," I answered, rolling over so my back was to her. I didn't want her to see me.
"Are you sick? You've haven't been yourself lately."
I started to cry, and lied, "I'm fine."
She sat on the edge of my bed and rubbed my back. "Do you want to talk about it? Is this about the boy you've been seeing?"
I rolled back over. "You know about him?"
My mom rolled her eyes in a loving manner. "Of course, pumpkin. I was your age once, I knew what was going on. Staying out all weekend, coming home in someone else's clothes. Mind you, not that I did those things, but I can see the signs. I may be old, but I'm not senile. Not yet, anyway."
"Oh, Mom. I just don't know what to do. We had a big fight, and I don't know if it's worth it to get back together with him. I'm miserable without him, but I don't know if I can get past our problem and compromise."
"Every relationship requires a little give and take. If you really like him, you should give it a shot. If you don't mind me asking, what's the problem?"
Here we go again. "He makes more money than I do, and he insists on treating me. I tried telling him no, but he didn't listen and he just went ahead and did it anyway. Then we both said things we didn't mean. He's just refusing to back down on this issue, and he said he wants to find a compromise."
"And what would that involve?"
"I don't know. We didn't get that far. I told him I had to think about it."
"What do you have to think about if you don't even know what you're supposed to be thinking about? That came out all wrong. If you don't know what the compromise is going to be, how can you think about it?"
"Well, I don't even know if this is something I want to try to figure out with him. Am I supposed to put a price tag on myself? Like some kind of whore?"
"That's what you need to talk to him about. Relationships are hard work, and it can feel like a struggle sometimes. But the good times more than make up for the bad."
"I thought that if it were meant to be, it would be easy."
She laughed. "No, it's just that it seems that way to everyone else."
I recalled what Véro had said to me earlier. She had made it seem like things just fell into place for us. Then again, I thought the same thing just three days.
My mother continued. "Do you care about him?"
"Yes. A lot."
"Do you love him?" I didn't respond. I didn't know how to. To my mother, my hesitation proved answer enough. "If you love him, you know you have to give it a shot."
"I never said I—"
"You don't have to say. A mother knows. He makes you happy. All I ever want for you is to be happy. Don't be so quick to give up on him. You still have a lot to think about."
I rolled back over. I wasn't tired anymore, but I was still clueless. Why couldn't someone just tell me what to do? Should I stay with him because it felt so good when we were together, or should I tell him it's over and avoid the pain and heartache that our relationship would inevitably cause me?
"If you decide to keep him around," she said, standing up, "I want to meet him. Hell," she giggled, "I want to meet him even if you don't. I'd love to meet the man that won my daughter's heart."
"You already know him, Mom," I said. "Kind of, anyway."
"Really? Who is he?"
"The hockey player?" I nodded. I wasn't sure if she believed me or not. "Well, that explains the amount of hockey games you've been to this year. It's a good thing I gave you my advice before you told me that."
"Why? Would that have changed what you said to me?"
"Yes. I would have told you first that I wanted to meet him. Have you seen his behind?"
Leave it to my mother to crush on my boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend?
I laughed. "Yes, I have in fact seen his behind. And I can assure you, it looks just as nice in person as it does on TV."
My mom patted my back and left the room. "Just don't stay in bed all day, or you'll never to sleep tonight."
Sitting up, I realized that my mother had a point. I should have found out what the compromise would be before I told him I needed time to think. How much was he expecting me to give, and how much was he expecting me to take? I kicked myself for not thinking about that earlier in the day. I supposed, however, I should figure that out for myself before talking to him again.
How much of myself did I want to sacrifice in order to get a shot at happiness?
The rational part of my brain kicked in. Make a list of pros and cons. What was so great about Sidney that I should give him another chance? Well, I'll start with the obvious:
-He's hot. So what if this is a little superficial? Before I met him or knew anything about him, that was the first thing I noticed about him. Soft curly hair, soulful brown eyes, those pouty pink lips. A gorgeous smile. His body. Okay, time to think about something else....
-He's one of the best hockey players in the world, if not the single best player. He's talented, but it was his hard work and determination that got him to where he is today. That work ethic is just as sexy as his body. Stop thinking about his body, Noelle....
-The sex. Damn it! I was trying not to think about these things. Think about qualities, not physical things!
-He's considerate. He knew how to anticipate my thoughts and feelings, and he was (mostly) so accommodating. I said so many times that he was close to perfect as humanly possible. We all make mistakes, and he was just frustrated that day. I can be exasperating, so I can't really hold that against him.
-And he does charity work. Between the games, practices, and interviews, he participated in Project Bundle-Up, delivered tickets to the season ticket holders, and sponsored the Little Penguins "Learn to Play Hockey" program with Reebok.
-He was great with his family. And great with the little kids asking for his autograph. Guy who are great with kids are walking aphrodisiacs.
-He calms me down in ways I don't understand, but in ways that I need. When I'm with him, I'm relaxed and laid-back. I'm so high strung that I need that in my life.
-The way he calls me "Nelly." It makes me melt every time he says it. And he only calls me that when no one else is around, like it's our own personal, secret code.
-He makes me feel good about myself. I feel cared for, and beautiful, too. He makes me laugh. And I love making him laugh, even when it's that contagious high-pitched cackle. When I'm around him, I think I can do anything.
-He likes me. That's a very important quality for him to have. He loves me, actually. When I think about it, I feel kind of lightheaded. I can't breathe.
Alright, so obviously he has a lot of good qualities. I didn't even list them all. Now let's move onto the bad things:
-He's rich. Well, that's not the bad part. But he wants to spend that money on me. Most people would be okay with that, but I'm not most people. My friends would think I'm crazy. Hell, who doesn't think I'm crazy at this point? Maybe I am blowing this out of proportion....
-He was the face of the NHL. Again, not the bad part, but he had a lot of responsibility to give a part of himself to the media. It was just as much a part of his job as being captain was. And I had to share a little of that spotlight. I had a little taste of that, and the intrusion into my life was less than pleasant. This wasn't something that was just going to go away; as long as he played hockey, which would hopefully be for a long time, he'd be the poster boy for the league.
-He was stubborn. Maybe I shouldn't hold it against him, since I was bullheaded, too, but there's only so much room obstinacy in one relationship.
-If I agreed to keep seeing him, I'd be seeing more of Lynne. Stupid bitch. Not his fault exactly, but I still counted it against him.
What else? Damn, why was it so hard to think of his bad qualities?
After trying to be rational, I thought about how I felt—not just about him, but about the entire situation, too. Sidney meant a lot to me. He was so good to me, so good for me. I was devastated when he lashed out at me. Like my heart had been ripped out. Was I making too big of a deal out of this? I had accepted my part in the shouting match. I didn't know which was worse: the broken heart or the wounded pride.
I couldn't think about it anymore. Thinking about it was only going to drive me nuts. I finished reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and then moved on to World War Z. Zombies were the new vampires in popular fiction, and they were all the rage.
By ten, I was in bed, knowing I needed a lot of rest before having to go to work in the morning. When I showed up at the office, my coworkers asked how I was. "Are you still sick? Because you look like hell."
"Thanks a lot, Steve. You're so nice to me."
"Seriously, if you need another day off, take it. You're no good to me if you can't concentrate on your work."
"I'm fine, I promise. I need to concentrate on something."
"Well, great to hear. Because I have three cases due this week, and if you could take one over for me, I'd owe you big time."
I sighed. "You know I'm still new to this position. I don't know if I can handle it."
"I'll tell you exactly what you need to do."
In the end, I agreed, and navigating through the case file proved distracting. Instead of researching and writing summaries and descriptions, I was actually working on a case under prosecution. It deserved my full attention, and I did my best to avoid looking at my desktop screen saver, which was still that picture of me and Sid, on the night that started it all. After the boss and I reviewed the case, he dismissed everything Steve had told me. What started out as a simple assignment blew out of proportion, and I found myself having to redo the argument and start from scratch, with two days to complete the revisions.
When I got home, I automatically tuned into the Pens game against St. Louis. After the tiring day I had arguing with the boss, it never occurred to me that I shouldn't be watching the game. I had successfully gotten through the day without dwelling on him and our fight. The first period went well. Crosby wasn't on fire, but he wasn't slacking either. A part of me wanted him to have an off-game, just to know that this was affecting him the way it was affecting me, too; the Pens fan in me hated myself for that.
Halfway through the game, I turned it off. I sat in bed and read my book, but I couldn't concentrate and just decided to go to bed. Of course, I couldn't sleep either. Tossing and turning, I tried counting sleep or imagining a white wall. To compensate, I popped a couple Benadryls and eventually drifted off into a fitful sleep.
Wednesday was a repeat at work, drafting an argument, reviewing it was the boss, and walking back to my desk feeling frustrated and pissed off when he rejected it. Instead of offering guidance and suggestions or ways I could improve the argument, he just pointed out all the faults and holes. How was I supposed to get better without help? Steve was working on his own cases and couldn't assist me.
I was so frustrated that by the end of the day, I went to the tennis courts. It was a brisk, cool October day, but I moved around enough to keep warm. I smashed the balls against the wall, hitting the equivalent of cross-court shots to myself in order to keep my legs moving. Sweat started to run down my face, and I pushed myself until my arms turned to jelly and I couldn't swing the racket anymore. I thought about my shitty job and what I should do about Sid.
The other players on the neighboring courts were dressed in Hollister hoodies, Adidas pants, and Nike running shoes. They weren't even breaking a sweat. I didn't fit in with them, but I kept throwing my body into my shots, the occasional grunt escaping my lips. Even when a shot went wide and I knew I couldn't return it, I ran after the ball. I couldn't stop moving, or else my brain would take over.
For a moment, when I missed a shot and paused for a second before beginning my next volley, I thought I smelled Sidney's cologne. The wind stopped blowing and the scent faded away, and I hit the ball again.
By the time Thursday came around, I filed my case and spent the evening trying to reason through my Sidney dilemma. I really needed Eva, but she still didn't call me back. My mom was pushing me in the direction of giving the relationship another try. "What's the big deal? If things don't work out, you're no better off than you are now, and at least you'll have had some fun along the way." I appreciated her advice, but I didn't think she was the best person for me to listen to. I didn't tell her that, because you can't really tell your mother that your one aspiration is to not be like her. At least Sidney respected my request and was giving me space and time, just like I'd asked him.
What am I going to do?
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