Six months after breaking off a 10-year relationship and engagement with the father of my child, I’ve found myself dating a gaggle of lifelong bachelors. It’s surreal. It’s adventure. It’s confusing.
I remember at the beginning of the summer being so peaked over the sheer number of similarities between eight and I. We felt like the same people in every way except relationship experience. Maybe that was the only thing we needed to be more in tune on. I don’t know. Either way it seems fitting that we should end the same way we began. He’ll watch my life unfold over social media, I’ll write a blog, we’ll swipe new matches, and we’ll keep each others numbers stored in our phones, just for a little while longer, just in case; a dating tale as old as
I had told eight I would attend his next (and last) game in town, and I still wasn’t sure how much damage I had done with that little white lie. Our texts had been clunky ever since we slept together, he checked in daily still, I had no real reason to think anything could come of us, but I had a shred of hope left so I him a snap on game day:
I went to the arena early, sat in the top row, within twenty feet of his teams’ bench and watched him warm up; he’s dancing again. Everything we’ve talked about over the summer felt too good, like destiny: sports, family, late night joints, tea, manners, car karaoke, sleeping with the window open when it’s cold, but always most of all, unabashed-for-the-love-of-it-dancing. The best way to describe being there that night is bittersweet.
In short time eight is on the line, close, with his back facing me. The anthem finishes and the announcers’ begin bantering over the loudspeaker and list off sponsors for the game. Eight turns around, looking into the stands and immediately spots me. He takes a step towards the wall, his hand comes up and he points out to me. He says something I can’t hear, but if I read his lips correctly, “Hey, I see you, you came!” You want it to be meaningful, right? I did too. I just sit there, smiling at him. He’s smiling too, he lowers his pointing hand, nods at me, his smile turns to a cheeky grin, and he returns to his teammates. If they don’t win this game the championship goes to their opponents on the spot; a sudden death scenario, and believe me, they laid everything on the line.
Halfway through the game “The Middle” a song by Zedd comes on the loudspeaker for a moment. He’s dancing again near the bench and starts singing or lip-syncing along with the song. He’s looking directly at me, singing: “Baby, why don’t you just meet me in the middle. I’m losing my mind just a little.” And then, dear readers, my dad catches on. Yes, I said my dad, who is sitting to my left side. Eight doesn’t know it’s my dad, and my dad doesn’t know which player I’ve been “talking to” all summer. “That’s him isn’t it? That’s the guy?” Eight is still singing this song and still looking at me so I can’t say anything to my dad, who’s now chuckling like an idiot and I can feel a razz coming on. Excellent, super cool … this was a terrible idea. There are still faces in the rows in front of me, quizzically looking to see who eight is fixated on. The only reaction I can muster is the faintest of head shakes and smallest of shit eating grins.
After what will probably go down in my life as the most surreal thing to ever happen to me at a sporting event … the game unfortunately took a turn. It was tense, hard fought, and wrought with bad behaviour on both teams’ sides. It started with a bad call, a shove that turned into both teams rushing out, a long delay for penalties, and a player gets ejected. Eight’s team loses in the aftermath and I watched the life suck right out of his body. I watched him as he threw down a piece of equipment. I watched as two teammates came and wrapped their arms around him. I slipped out of the arena, I’ve never skedaddled so fast in my life. As I walked to my car I could hear the announcer mentioning each player, and the fans cheering for each. I don’t know if I should’ve stayed that day – let him see that I was there until the bitter end. But it just seemed like he should be with and focused on his team in that moment.
He sent me a lot of Snapchats that night as I slept, singing karaoke in one of his teammates homes; if memory serves one of them was “Friends in Low Places.” I texted him the next morning and congratulated him on a season well played. He mentioned in passing that a big part of his moodiness was “because it’s the longest stretch of time until we play again.”
“It’s bittersweet I guess huh?” I asked him.
“There’s nothing sweet about it.” He said.
And that was enough to shut me up for the night. This was the new pattern and conversational tone; after initiating contact with me, his texts were regularly dismissive and decidedly curt. I did try to understand his melancholy, I knew he was disappointed and already missing this big thing in his life even though it felt very much within reach still. Those exact words describe how I feel now, now that it’s been weeks since we spoke last.
Imagine him saying to me about our brief nothing:
“It’s bittersweet I guess huh?”
Imagine me saying back to him, after all you’ve read in these blogs:
“There’s nothing sweet about it.”
I get it eight, I really do.