Well, what happened in the previous post was an example of how I interpret "player has reacted negatively". I try to take as much writing inspiration from the game engine as I can. Crovari's a good egg, he just doesn't like getting warnings. :)
Monday, September 17
I’ve gone from the ridiculous to the sublime today and I couldn’t be happier.
The squad got the day off and I know now my meeting with Crovari is going to be a topic of conversation tomorrow. Federico called me this morning to say he didn’t tell the media but someone did, so I’ll have a controversy.
The question is whether or not I believe what I’m hearing. He was certainly mad enough at me yesterday to go to the media but he swore up and down, using different words than he used yesterday, that he didn’t do it.
Naturally, that means someone else did, so I have to find out who that person was.
That is for tomorrow, though, and I am told I’ll have every opportunity to respond in the media. Of course I will -–the media will get its controversy that way and I intend to keep this firmly under wraps.
That was the ridiculous. Now for the sublime.
I got home at 2:15 this morning, crawled into bed and was awakened at 9:00 by Patty’s phone call, on her way from Venice. That gave me half an hour to freshen up before she arrived.
I jumped in the shower, managed to shave without slicing myself open, and straightened up the apartment before enjoying a true day off for the first time in weeks.
Usually, weekends are the only days I have to relax when we aren’t playing, but today was a weekday off, wonderfully rare and very relaxing.
I was in a bit of a hurry, as you might imagine. I didn’t even get to eat breakfast before she was knocking on my door. I won’t say I minded that.
I opened the door and saw a very happy and very pretty woman on the other side.
“Now that’s the way every lucky guy should start his day,” I teased, and she blushed in reply.
“I’m glad you think so, especially since you’re starting your day with me,” she said, as I closed the door. “So tell me, what do you want to do today?”
“I wouldn’t mind spending some quiet time,” I said. “Yesterday’s match didn’t go like it should have, as you might know. And the papers are on me already.”
“One match you don’t win and they rip you?” she asked, with a disgusted expression.
“This is Italy,” I said. “They expect you to win all the time here and if you don’t, God help you.”
“Well, sounds to me like you need a friend,” she said, as I offered her some coffee to start our conversation.
“Sounds to me like I have one,” I replied, as she accepted my offer.
I crossed behind her to the kitchen and poured a cup for her, as we sat on the couch.
“You do,” she answered. “I’m just happy to get to see you today. I have some time off coming and the exhibition is going really well, so they didn’t have any problem letting me go as long as I have my Blackberry with me.”
“I know how that goes,” I smiled, patting my shirt pocket in response. “And I’m not sure I like it either.”
“So what does a football manager do on a day off, anyway?” she asked.
“As little as possible,” I said. “Unless his girlfriend is coming over, in which case he’s looking to revisit his plans.”
“Oh, so I’m your girlfriend, am I?” Patty teased, batting her pretty eyelashes at me.
“I think we’re both old enough now that if we meant to play games we probably would,” I answered. “Otherwise I think we’re both too busy.”
“That’s why I’m here today,” she said, summoning up her courage. “I want to talk about us today, Rob. It’s really important we do that and I think it needs to be today. What happened between us last time I was here was beautiful and I need to know that you are interested in a real, lasting relationship. It’s time to close the deal on us.”
# # #
She was more relaxed today than I have ever seen her, a sign of her growing confidence.
I’m seeing Patty start to blossom and it’s really a beautiful thing to see. The flower analogy is perfect for her – after her long and cold winter I’m starting to see shoots of green and soon, she’ll be in full bloom. I feel privileged to be allowed to watch it from close up.
We spent the rest of the morning talking and putting into words what both of us have felt but left unsaid.
“At first I really didn’t want a relationship,” I admitted, as we started our second cup of coffee. “I’ve been pretty absorbed in my job and unfortunately, in Kate, so I thought it would be best to steer clear. But you’ve opened my eyes and your honesty has really taken me by surprise.”
“You didn’t think I’d be honest?”
“It wasn’t that,” I said hastily. “I was just so used to duplicity and hurt that I didn’t think anyone would start a relationship with me from a position of honesty. It had nothing to do with you and you were the one who started it the whole idea of something lasting.”
“That was hard for me,” she admitted. “Especially since he was just one lie after another.”
“And you’re way too good to deserve that,” I said, slipping a gentle puff to her self-esteem as I spoke. “Way too good. And here you are with me, so I am feeling like quite a lucky man!”
“So what’s your answer? Would you turn me down?” Now her look was much different.
“Oh, no,” I said, returning her look in equal measure. “I just want to make sure that if we take the next step, we’re staying together. I’m not going back to where I was and I know you aren’t going back to where you were. Neither of us needs that kind of pain or wants that kind of complication.”
“Neither of us are in a position to make guarantees,” she correctly noted.
“That’s true, but it’s also not completely what I mean. No one is talking about getting married. It’s just this, Patty: I refuse to hurt you. I will not do it. Given the history we both have with the same people, I simply won’t put you through that again. I already care about you far too much to do that. And heaven knows how much those two hurt me. You know what I mean?”
She nodded slowly. “I sure do, and one thing I know for sure because of it,” she said.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your being a gentleman,” she said.
# # #
After about an hour together, we made ourselves get up and go for a walk on the piazza, stopping after a lovely stroll along the Bacchiglione River for lunch at the Aggujaro.
I like the speed of the city. Padua is a city of about 200,000 but with a nice local touch. It’s big, but it’s not huge and as a result I could take my girlfriend out for a nice lunch with only a few people gawking at us.
It’s quite different here than it is in the States when it comes to getting recognized.
Back home, the biggest stars can’t go anywhere without a bodyguard. Here, the footballers are the stars and in a city the size of Padua, you can do what you need to do without too much trouble.
And since we’re off to a good start, I can do so quietly. Aggujaro is a family restaurant that was perfect for a couple of young lovers, so to speak. We enjoyed a very nice traditional lunch with a wonderful bottle of wine and spent a lovely long lunch hour just enjoying each other’s company.
As well as things were going, we were still dancing around the main issue. As we ate dessert, I swallowed hard and she could tell there was something else I wanted to say. She looked at me with concern and, dare I say it, with love.
“Tell me what you’re thinking, Rob,” she said.
“I’m thinking there’s a chance here for me, to be with a lovely woman and to start my life again,” I said. “I need to have a positive start with you. I’m desperate for it.”
“Then let me tell you,” she said, reaching for my hand. “You’re doing just fine.”
After lunch we headed back, very slowly, to my apartment, walking arm-in-arm.
As we walked, we talked some more.
“What made you decide to seek me out?” I asked.
“The last time I saw him, in Reading, he was with Kate and he went on and on about you in a professional setting, and accused Kate of still being in love with you,” she said. “He had already told me that if I breathed a word to Kate about what had happened between us he’d destroy me, but by that time I had had enough. Frankly, I was pretty offended. So when I was posted to Venice I knew I had to find you.”
“How long have you been in Italy, then?” I asked.
“Six months. I needed to build up some time so I could get away to see you. The biennale
took up a lot of my time and when I met you I wanted to do it right. So here I am, with time to spend.”
It seemed very strange, but here I was with Patty and I hadn’t had a single thought about Kate until that very moment. I decided I was simply going to enjoy the moment.
When we reached my apartment, she came to my arms and made sure that thoughts of Kate stayed far, far away.
# # #