I’m not sure what is harder; watching someone you love walk out of your life, or watching that person you once loved walk back into your life with his new girlfriend in tow.
For almost a year now I have been working part time in the retail merchandise store of the football team here in Lakeview in the location that is right in the stadium. As anyone who has been following me for more than a minute will know that in every way this is my dream part time job. Sure, it’s still shitty retail work, but at least it’s shitty retail work that revolves around something I’m super passionate about. That, and I get a pretty bitchin’ discount.
The reason why the location itself is important to this story is that we had been in the old stadium up until the beginning of March. That stadium was very well loved, spending about 100 years as the foundation of football history in this province. But because of its lengthy run, it was showing its age. The seats were uncomfortable and wooden, when you were “sheltered” at the concessions when it was raining, the ceiling above you poured water like it was a spaghetti strainer, the concessions were few and very far between, as were the run down bathrooms that only had freezing cold water in the taps. If it was raining and your seats were on the east side you were fucked, and if it was hot and sunny you were sunburnt and partially blind by the end of the game. The store I worked at was no better. It was tiny. The store was essentially a shoebox. It was small, the ceilings were low, the lack of windows made the room dark and depressing, the carpet stank and you were either freezing your ass off or cooking like bacon – there was no in between – just like having seats on the east side of the stands.
So a few years ago, the powers that be decided to chip a HUGE chunk of change (huge relative to this province, it was in the ballpark of $300 million, which I think is small potatoes compared to stadiums in other places, but still) to build a shiny new stadium just down the street. This new stadium makes the old one look like an actual pile of shit. The seats are still uncomfortable (because sports seating always sucks), but the view to the field is spectacular. Everything is big and bright and beautiful. The jury is still out on the weather factor because we still don’t have a roof, but at least most of the seats seem relatively covered from a similar overhang that the west side of the old stadium had (where the only advantage to the nosebleeds was that you were pretty much guaranteed to be somewhat protected during adverse weather conditions). All in all, I am completely impressed by the new digs, to the point where I may have to quit my job if they don’t let me book time off to go to at least one game here this season.
The store is amazing. We upgraded from a shoebox to a mansion of a building, with high ceilings, a wall of floor to ceiling windows, where everything is white and bright with big open spaces, TVs in every corner of the store, and a big window filled entrance out into the stadium itself where you can see all the action. We moved over from the old store to the new one at the beginning of March, and every fan that has come in to the store has been in awe of the opulence that we as football fans have never been accustomed to in our province. We finally look like a professional football team (at least off the field anyways).
Because of this new location, we have had a lot of people come from far and wide to see the new digs. Most people don’t even come to buy anything, they just want a sneak peek of the new place. This past week was especially busy as the city hosted the CFL’s first ever CFL Week, which was comprised of various high profile players past and present from across the league, and events for fans of all kinds. So when I went into work on Sunday, as CFL Week was wrapping up, I was expecting it to be busy. I was anticipating a various number of people to walk into the store.
I did not however anticipate seeing Kevin walk through those doors.
You know those big windows I was gushing about a moment ago? Well I love them even more now, because while we as staff can see out of them just fine, there is just enough of a glare on them from the outside that you can’t actually see into the store until you are pretty much right up to the doors. So I saw Kevin long before he came inside. As I was unlocking the door to open, I noticed a familiar truck parked across the street. Huh, I thought. That looks a lot like Kevin’s truck. I see trucks like his all the time in town, so I didn’t think too much about it, but I felt this weird twinge in my stomach about it. I wandered around the store, talking to my coworkers, while periodically checking on that truck parked across the street.
After a few minutes I noticed that someone had gotten out of that truck. A girl. Then, a second later, Kevin emerged from what was indeed his truck. It didn’t even feel real. It felt like I had dreamt it all up. After all, I had thought about running into him out in public a million times. I’ve gone through a million different scenarios of when and where I would bump into him, and in my mind I always looked amazing, and would always say the best things, and present myself in such a way that he would leave and regret ever letting me go. I’ve imagined him coming into my work, but I never thought it would actually happen. A couple minutes after he got out of his truck, his grandparents pulled up and parked in front of him, got out of their vehicle and joined Kevin and the girlfriend on the sidewalk. They stood there chatting for quite some time, and I sat there like a damn idiot, watching them, and praying to whatever deity was listening that they wouldn’t come into the store.
Let me tell you guys, prayer doesn’t do shit, because sure enough, after a few minutes of chatting outside, the four of them started walking towards the store. This is actual footage of me realizing that I was seconds away from seeing Kevin for the first time in a year.
Luckily one of the girls I work with fairly regularly was close enough for me to call her over, and briefly explain what was happening before I basically ran into the stock room, and hid. I stayed in there for a good 10 minutes before it dawned on me that they could be in the store for awhile, and that I legitimately couldn’t hide in there all day without catching shit from the managers that were there that day. So after having a slight panic attack, and with a bucket full of butterflies in my stomach, I peeked into the store, saw that at least Kevin & Co weren’t anywhere right in front of the stock room door, and proceeded into the store with extreme caution.
I heard his voice, and saw the 4 of them looking at stuff across the store from me with my peripheral vision, but I wasn’t going to dare risk catching his gaze. So maybe he saw me at that point, I guess I’ll never know, but I found my coworkers, they gave me a bunch of shirts to go fold, and I spent the next 25 minutes in the change rooms folding shirts with my hair pulled down to cover as much of my face as possible until I heard the four of them leave, and my coworkers came to tell me they were gone.
I wanted to cry. And scream. And throw up. I hated that I ran away. I hated that after a year and a fucking half, the thought of seeing him still hurts. But more than anything I despise the fact that he was the one who fell out of love with me, he broke my god damned heart to a million fucking pieces but he gets to be the happy one, while I am miserable as fuck, wading through piles of shitty dating app messages and meeting a constant stream of assholes. How is that fair? It just makes me so fucking angry.
So now, I’m picking up the pieces – again. And I somehow have to try and convince myself that all this will work itself out in the end. I don’t know how to do that, because right now I’m feeling lower than I ever have. It’s so stupid that I still hold on to what I had, and what I won’t have, and I wish it would all just go away.
All I know is that for all this bullshit I’ve gone through, the least the universe could do for me is throw me a bone in the form of a beautiful football player. I mean honestly, at this point I deserve that for fuck’s sake.