I was getting frustrated. I know I'm stubborn, but that isn't always a bad thing. It got me to where I am today. Why should I start changing now?
Things have always been in my control. Through hard work and determination, I decided where my life was going to go. Sure, some things were ordained by higher powers and chosen by others, but generally speaking, I had the authority to command my fate.
That's why this was so unbearable. I was placing my happiness and my heart into someone else's hands. It's just a bunch of waiting around, hoping that someone would stop putzing around and see exactly what I see: we've got a good thing going here and there's no need to ruin it.
I had such high hopes for Sunday. When Talbo and I talked after the first preseason game, he told me everything he had learned about her. Maybe I shouldn't have sent a spy to learn more about her, but I was way out of my league. I was so focused on hockey that I didn't have the experience the other guys had about snagging chicks. Hell, they threw themselves at me, so I had no idea how to go about pursuing someone. He told me that her family loved football, I knew I'd take her to a game. I'd become a Steelers fan ever since moving to Pittsburgh, and showing up to a game would be a great way to repay some of the Steelers for their support during our Stanley Cup run.
The whole day had been planned out. I bought her the jersey on Thursday, and I figured she'd appreciate wearing the number of someone a little less well known, but who was still a vital piece of the team. Just like she liked Talbo. We'd eat and then head to the game, where I'd surprise her by taking her up to the box. Then we'd go out for dinner before having to indefinitely say goodbye.
Too bad we never got out the door. I was floored when she left. I begged her to stay, but I was too stunned for words. I couldn't stay at home alone, so I went over to TK's for the distraction, but as soon as I got there, the girls practically attacked me and asked me where Nelly was. At least the guys knew I was in a mood and they left me alone. When Véro and Kelsey couldn't get an answer out of me, they left, and I knew they were calling her to see what was up. This was just a stupid fight, what were they making such a big deal out of it for? Couples fight all the time.
I knew that giving her that credit card would be a tricky situation. I received the card in the mail two weeks before I could even think about giving it to her, after she finally agreed to be my girlfriend. The timing just seemed right. But I didn't realize why this was such a big deal to her. I knew she liked her independence, but I didn't realize she'd had it so rough growing up. She should have just explained that in the first place.
I didn't want to push her when she was angry. When she left, I didn't try calling her. I had a lot to think about, too, and I didn't want to put pressure on her and have her run away again. The only way to solve the problem was to talk about it, so she can't just run away when she's angry with me. When Flower said she was at my house, I just knew I had to be there. Now she chooses to use my key? She's such a mystery to me.
Of course she's a puzzle. She was so different. She knew who I was, but she didn't hit on me, she didn't return my advances, but she didn't clam up. She was always the same person. I'd never met a girl who could keep her wits about herself when she was near me. That must sound so conceited, but it's the awful truth.
If any of the guys had been there when Nelly and I first met, they would have teased me mercilessly for the way I was throwing myself at her, offering my autograph or taking a picture with her. She was so refreshingly unimpressed, turning me down with a look in her eyes like she pitied me. When I spotted her at Diesel, I knew it was destiny, that I was supposed to have met her. I can't screw this up now.
I was a little pissed that Flower didn't tell me straight out what was going on before practice, but I found out, and that's what matters. He says he called after me to stop, but I never heard him. I could only concentrate on getting home, getting to her, and trying to convince her that I was sorry and I was willing to find a compromise. Even though I thought she was wrong, I was willing to find common ground to keep her in my life.
It was surprising to find her packing her stuff. That's when it hit me: she didn't think we were fighting. This was make or break for her. I don't know why she was willing to give up on this so easily. She tried to get rid of me, but I couldn't let her leave without talking to her, persuading her to at least listen. I was relieved when she said she'd wait to talk to me after practice. I couldn't let her end things. The next hour and a half was painful, trying to concentrate on the drills when I was too impatient to focus.
The locker room was so quiet. I don't know how all the guys found out what was going on so quickly, but they knew better to joke about it, like they usually did when I was thinking about Nelly. They never said anything demeaning or cruel, but they just loved to rag on me for any reason, and girls were a favorite subject of theirs. They wouldn't have done it if they realized just how much I cared about her.
Not knowing what's going through her head is killing me. I kept replaying our conversation over and over in my head. We both said we were sorry, and we both accepted the blame for Sunday! We didn't break up, but we're not together. Girls. No wonder my dad preferred I stay single. But I know she's worth the trouble.
She said she wanted space, she needed time. How much time did she need? I was glad for Tuesday's game against the Blues, because I needed to think about something else. I didn't know how well I'd do while still being so worried about Nelly, but I made it through. It could have been worse.
I was going stir-crazy on Wednesday. I went to practice at Southpointe and I exhausted myself, trying to concentrate on the physical and forget the mental. But afterward, I couldn't just sit at home and wait for her to make up her mind—and I couldn't join the guys going out for a drink either. I was a pathetic, useless lump. Finally deciding to take control of my life again, I drove to see her. Colbie Caillat was playing on the radio, and I sang along to "Realize." If the guys could hear me, I'd never hear the end of it. But isn't it funny how sometimes you find songs that perfectly convey your feelings?
As I passed her house, I saw that her car wasn't in the driveway. Then it hit me that I probably didn't know where she was if she wasn't at home. I knew so little about her; I didn't know where she worked, where she liked to hang out, and what she would be doing with her spare time. One thing popped into my head, and I recalled the route from my trip in August.
Of course she was at the courts. Whenever I had too much on my mind, I took it out on my body and hit the ice or the gym. This was her equivalent.
Nelly was dressed in baggy sweats and was really pushing herself. The other players on the court were talking to one another rather than working out, in contrast to her efforts. Every once in a while, she'd swing her racket so hard that she'd grunt. I hung back and just watched her fluid movements. She didn't play like this when I had played with her. This wasn't for fun. She was trying to work herself so hard that her mind would stop working. I recognized that drive in her.
I showed up with full intentions of forcing an answer out of her, and when I say force an answer, I mean get her to tell me she planned on sticking with me. Instead, I saw that she was struggling with this just as much as I was. Every day that she had trouble deciding to end our relationship was another day closer to her realizing that she couldn't end it. If she was truly furious with me, she would have thrown me to the curb on Monday at the Iceoplex.
She paused for a moment between volleys. Her eyes were closed and she was taking a deep breath. It reminded me of the way she would inhale when I held her in my arms, revelling in the scent of my cologne. For a second, I was worried she would look for me, knowing that I was there with her. But Nelly turned back to the court, and I relaxed. She wouldn't catch me.
The racket was an extension of her arm, and she had complete control of the movements of the ball. I guess it was the tennis equivalent of puck-handling skills. I was hypnotized by how she worked. The ball never got passed her, even when her shot would go wide. She'd run to it and stop it, even if she couldn't return it.
I left, not wanting another close call of her catching her watching me. I knew she'd probably be pissed if she knew I wasn't giving her the space she requested. She said she needed time, and now that I knew she was unable to tell me no, she could have all the time and space she needs. Eventually, she'd be back. She was still mine.
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