“How many schools allow you to major in exercise science?” Evanne asked me as I sat in front of my laptop at her apartment.
“This says that there are 406 in the country,” I groaned, covering my face with my hands.
“Okay, well, there’s got to be a way to eliminate a fair amount of those. Do you want a big school or a small school?” she asked. I thought about it for a moment.
“I don’t know. I mean, I went to a big school before and loved it, but I can see how having a smaller school would be an advantage. Smaller class sizes, knowing everyone, and all that.”
I looked back at the computer screen in front of me. I’d delayed far too long in beginning to search for a school for the start of the following year. Applications were going to start being due soon, so I had to figure things out and figure them out quickly. I glanced at page 1 of 41 on the list of schools and groaned again.
“Are there any in Pittsburgh?” Evie asked.
I turned my attention to her and narrowed my eyes. I didn’t want her to know that I was literally just about to check the state of Pennsylvania. That was a bad idea though. A really bad idea. You gave your life up once for a guy, Misty, don’t do it again, I warned myself.
“I don’t know,” I told her nonchalantly with a shrug. I wasn’t going to look. I was not going to look.
“Yeah, right. Okay, fine. Let’s start with states you don’t want to go to,” she suggested.
“Well, I think I can eliminate the south. Way too hot down there for me. I like having seasons, ya know? Also, I can do without the weather we had in Minnesota when I went to school there. We’ll stick with the middle third of the country.”
I continued to peruse the list of schools and eliminated some more mentally just based on not having a clue about the school itself. I wanted it to at least be well known if I wanted a chance to get a good job when I graduated. I stopped clicking through when I reached the schools in Pennsylvania. Evie noticed my hesitation and made her way over to me to look over my shoulder.
“I wonder how close each of those places are to Pittsburgh,” she started. I closed my laptop and glared at her.
“I’m not going to school in Pittsburgh simply because Sidney is there. I’m going to go to a school with a good program, no matter where it is,” I explained. She let out a derisive snort.
“Whatever you say.”
“I have to get to work. I’ll talk to you later.”
I packed up my laptop and headed out to my car. I hadn’t been lying when I told her that I wanted to go to a school with a good program. I just hated to admit that if that program happened to me near Pittsburgh, I’d hardly be complaining. I mean, how could it be bad to be close to your best friend?
I walked into work a little while later and clocked in. I went through the usual, setting up for the dinner shift and such. When the restaurant opened I sucked up my thoughts of how much I hated being a waitress and went over to my first table with a smile on my face. The night ended without much of a hassle thankfully and I helped with the clean up.
“Okay everyone, it’s going to be a long time before I see you again, so I wanted to say thanks and have a good vacation!” my boss, Jake called out. The restaurant was closing for renovations for a month, putting me out of work for a while. I wasn’t at all complaining about that. “Misty, hold on!”
“What’s up, Jake?” I asked.
“Just curious to see what your plans were while you didn’t have any work,” he said. Jake was a close family friend and I’d known him for years.
“Not sure. I’m probably going to start looking at new schools for next year,” I told him truthfully. He nodded and smiled.
“About time you decided to go back.” I rolled my eyes at him. He was just like my parents.
“I’ll see you soon, I’m sure,” I called to him with a wave as I walked out the door. I drove home and settled down in front of the TV in my room.
What was I going to do with the next month? It was almost December, so it was too cold to really spend much time outside doing anything. You could only ski so many times, especially by yourself since everyone else I knew would be working. I opened my laptop up to the list of schools I’d started and let out a sigh. Now was not the time. Thankfully my phone rang, distracting me.
“How was your last day of work for a while?” Sidney asked when I picked up.
“Actually not too bad. No one was annoying. I’m not sure if that’s because people were generally in good moods, or I just was because I don’t have to go back for a while,” I joked.
We talked for a while about what was going on with us and about his upcoming games. He told me that for pretty much the entire month of December they were at home with hardly any road games and an idea started to form in my head. We hung up not long after and I immediately went online to check his schedule.
I decided I was going to go visit him in Pittsburgh at some point, I’d just have to figure out when the best time was. I missed him, a lot. It was pretty ridiculous actually how much I missed the guy. I thought time would alleviate it a bit, but it had only gotten worse. Not really wanting to waste energy on it now, I put the computer away and got into bed. I’d sleep on it and then figure it out later.
A few days later I was already bored out of my mind. I needed to get out of New York and I needed to do it now. The more I thought about it, the more I decided to just show up and surprise Sidney. He’d probably kill me for not telling him, but I knew it wouldn’t be a big deal. He’d be happy to see me and I was going to be really happy to see him. After all, I was in love with the guy.
I packed up a small suitcase with enough clothes to last a couple of days and got to sleep that night. It’d been hard not to tell him that I was coming when we talked on the phone. I’d been grinning like a fool through the entire conversation and everything he said made me want to blurt out the news.
I woke up early the next morning and grabbed a travel mug filled with coffee. Then I said goodbye to my parents and Bauer, who was staying home this time. I got into my car and started the almost 9 hour drive to Pittsburgh. I’d booked a hotel room in downtown Pittsburgh near the rink the night before. The Pens were playing that night, and while I couldn’t go to the game, I could wait for him outside after.
I stopped once on the trip for food and a bathroom break, but I made the stop as quick as possible. I just wanted to be there. Even if I still had to wait for the game to end, I’d be there, that much closer to Sidney. Finally I drove into the city and then found the hotel and checked in. I had a bit of time to kill before the game started and set out to explore the city a bit.
Of course the first thing I looked for was a coffee shop. No matter how much coffee they serve at hotels, it’s still always brutal. I found one just a couple blocks from both the hotel and the rink that was open late. I got a cup to make sure it was okay, and on first sip I knew I’d found my place. As it got closer to game time I made my way back to the hotel and ordered room service.
After I finished dinner I got to work getting ready while the game played in the background. I let out a loud cheer when Sidney scored the Pens first goal against Colorado before getting back to getting ready. Sidney sealed the game with an empty net goal at the end and the Penguins won 4-1.
I finished getting ready and then threw on a coat, a knit hat, and a pair of gloves to go along with my boots. It wasn’t like I had gotten completely made up to stand outside and wait, but I’d wanted to look good. Then I left and walked over to the rink. I wasn’t sure exactly where the guys came out, but found a group of fans standing in the cold, looking like they were waiting.
“Excuse me, is this where the guys will come out?” I asked a girl in a Penguins jersey over a sweatshirt.
“Yeah, it is,” she responded.
I smiled and waited. I stood outside with the fans, my heart speeding up every minute that went by. I giggled to myself as I thought about his reaction to seeing me standing in the crowd. I could picture his face and the slow spreading of his grin as realization struck him.
Thankfully it wasn’t terribly cold outside that night because I felt like it was taking forever for anyone to come out. My anticipation was heightened when the first few guys started making their way out of the rink to the cheers of the fans. Any minute now Sidney was going to walk out that door. I bit my lip as I waited and then I saw him. He stepped out the door and my eyes lit up and I grinned. Then I saw her.
A gorgeous brunette stepped out behind him. My grin fell as he held the door open for her and she smiled and thanked him. I felt like someone was tearing my heart out as the brunette linked her arm with Sidney’s as they made their way to his car. The girl smiled up at him and laughed at something he said. She responded and he laughed back as he whispered something into her ear.
Tears stung my eyes and I felt like I was going to be sick. Why hadn’t he told me that he’d met someone? I thought I was his best friend. Wasn’t that what he told me? He should have mentioned that he’d met someone. Except that was only part of why I felt the way I did right now.
Sidney was with another girl. I know that I had only recently realized the extent of my feelings towards him, but it still hurt. Badly. I knew that he didn’t feel the same way about me, that he only saw me as a friend, but having to find out about it this way just made it hurt more. I’d come to surprise him, hoping maybe…..but that wasn’t going to happen now.
I watched him hold the car door open for her and take her hand to help her in. I couldn’t watch this anymore. As he got into his car I turned my back on the scene and made my way through the crowd. I needed to get out of there. There was only one thing I wanted right now, and that was to get away.
After pushing my way through the throng of people I turned back. Sidney was leaning out of the window signing autographs while the girl in his car texted away on her phone. I allowed myself that one last glance before turning back to the street. I needed a cup of coffee now and tomorrow I was going home.