November 3, 2016

Wins and losses

When we first started dating, I was unemployed ... well, "between jobs." My one year temporary post-grad contract in Chicago had ended and, although I didn't know it yet, I'd be moving to California only about 6 weeks later.

As nerve-racking as it was at the time, my best friend Lorelei and I talk about that summer often as one of the best times of our life. I'd lost a ton of weight, she'd finished her Masters, and we were broke and adventurous and active. We made fun where we could, and it was fantastic. We even both signed up for the same dating site, and tried to meet guys to join us our adventures.

That's how I met Matthew in early June, and I loved that he was fully supportive of low-key inexpensive date ideas. We went to different branches of the library, or made dinner at home. He worked overnights, so going to the movies always meant cheap early morning matinees. It was perfect for my financial situation.

I knew he loved the Chicago Cubs, so when I saw a ticket giveaway hosted by a local running store, I entered - and I won. We met near Wrigley Field, grabbed a bite for dinner, and headed in. The seats were incredible, and he was so thrilled for the opportunity.

Not for being with me, but for being there.

The Cubs were playing the Giants, and there were a couple of Giants fans to the right of us. He spoke with them the entire time, and I mostly just sat there trying to figure out where to look and what was going on. In the end, the Cubs won, and we stood up to cheer and sing with everyone else. It was a long night, but I was happy that my new boyfriend was happy ... at least until we got on the subway to leave.

It was crowded, of course. And moving slowly, of course. And there was his trademark lack of patience I'd started to recognize even three weeks into the relationship, of course. He got off after a few stops, saying he'd parked his car at his aunt and uncle's and was going to get it then head to work. No hug, no kiss, no thank you even - a half-hearted wave goodbye, and the doors closed behind him. Another hour on the train with transfers for me, because I lived in a completely different part of the city.

There are a lot of his behaviors that I only recognized in retrospect, but this isn't one of them - I knew even then, this wasn't how I deserved to be treated. It was early, it was new - but I already knew with certainty that it was wrong for me. He got off the train, I cried, and a week later, we were done and I was applying to jobs on the other side of the country. On top of everything else, I'd caught him sending sexy messages to some other girl, so I took the books he'd lent me back to his apartment and left them on the front porch with a note saying we were looking for different things and good luck with someday finding what he was looking for.

Not that I have too many preferences in that department to begin with, but now, I especially don't like the Cubs. There are certain things he's always going to be connected with in my mind, and I just can't help but change the channels, close the books, turn off the radio, look away. 

The team did well this year, and ended up in the World Series. And he called Noah to share the news, which Noah couldn't have cared less about. He said he'd send some Cubs shirts for Noah, and that didn't receive the very excited "thank you!!!" he expected.

Kids don't care what you love, they care what you share with them.

Noah doesn't want a father who sends a baseball team's shirt - he wants to watch the games with his dad. He doesn't want gifts, he wants presence.

Last night, the Cubs won. There was no celebrating here in South Carolina, at least not where we could see or hear. It's nice, sometimes, to have this distance. It's hard to be the only parent 355 days a year, but sometimes ... it's just nice.

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