But back to Game 6: I wanted an epic game. I got one. Not as epic, perhaps, as a quadruple OT game against the best goalie in the league, but fairly epic nonetheless. Only I’m getting ahead of myself, because this trip to Pittsburgh did not include one hockey game, but three, and was not merely one day, but five of what may be the best days of my adult life.
The Coles Notes Version of
An Epic Weekend in the Best City in the World
journée numéro un - le 6 mai
It gets off to a strange start.
Your day begins at exactly 2:00 a.m. Pacific time.
You wake from a nightmare in a cold sweat:
Mike Green is sitting on the radiator at the foot of your bed.
He sits there, an Easton Stealth stick across his be-boxered lap,
flipping a puck on the un-taped blade.
A very small part of you is thankful he’s wearing a shirt, even if it’s only a wife beater,
the other 99% of you groans internally as he stares at you with his bedroom eyes and sexy tats,
never quite smiling because he knows that as soon as he does, you may kill him.
“If you broke my boy, I’ll break you,” you tell him, too lazy to even sit up.
He stares you down and then breaks into a smirk.
You lurch up to throttle him,
and wake in a cold sweat, both pissed and relieved.
The alarm goes off at 3:55 a.m.
The day begins in earnest.
It includes a four-hour Quick Shuttle bus ride to Seattle,
a surprisingly painless border-crossing,
two incredibly boring hours in Seattle-Tacoma Airport,
a three and a half hour flight from SeaTac to O’Hare (a.k.a. the 3rd circle of hell),
and a two hour layover that mysteriously becomes a four and a half hour layover,
in which you miss the ENTIRE Pens game because FSN-Chicago and ESPN are allergic to the NHL.
You bond with seven guys in O’Hare International Airport.
They feel compelled to give you Pens game updates because you’re wearing your Malkin t-shirt.
“The game is 2-1 with two minutes left,” one guy assures you, “It’s ours.”
You immediately cringe, and hiss that anything can happen in two minutes.
You keep crossing your fingers for a Pens win.
Ten minutes later, someone tells you the game’s in OT with a 2-2 tie.
Caps scored with 1:51 left in regulation.
You shake your head. Nine seconds. Somehow, you knew.
The game ends before you take off.
Pens win 3-2 in OT.
You scream for joy at Gate G2B as everyone stares at you like you’re a lunatic.
Six crackberries and two iPhones and no one knows who scored the game winner.
You pray it was your favourite player,
the one whose name you were repeating in your head like a mantra
roughly around the time you thought overtime was being played.
It’s a joke, a game you play with yourself in high-stakes games, when your team is going into overtime
in game 3 down 2-0 in a series against a bitter rival.
They can come back from being down 2-0.
You’re not so sure if they can afford to lose game 3.
So you, atheist that you are, you pray.
You repeat your silly prayer even after the game is over:
Let Malkin have scored, and let Letang have gotten the game winner.
You don’t even know if Letang played
thanks to Mike Green’s vicious hit in the bottom of the 3rd period in Game 2...
Your flight finally takes off at 9:45 p.m. Central time,
ten minutes after it was supposed to have landed at your final destination.
You get to Pittsburgh at 12:10 a.m. Eastern time.
It’s your birthday.
You’re met in baggage claims with a huge hug from someone you’ve never technically met,
but may as well have known your whole life.
You ramble about how surreal everything is.
Then you ask about the game. Anyone else might be offended. She understands.
She’s your other half.
The way little girls pretend to be twins.
Only you aren’t pretending; you might as well have been one person.
Only if you were one person, you wouldn’t have each other.
She wouldn’t be able to give you a recap of game three.
in the middle
The shirt is slump-ending magic.
You knew that. This is just confirmation.
You can’t remember who scored for the other team, and you honestly don’t care.
You hold your breath as you ask the one question that may determine your mood
for the rest of the post-season:
Did he dress for the game?
It somehow figures that his first ever NHL playoff goal
is an OT game-winner on the PP in a must-win game against the Caps:
your illogical, borderline-concerning devotion is somewhat justified.
Technically, it is Day Two, but it still feels like Day One because you won’t go to bed until dawn.
Instead, you blast Kelly Clarkson in your friend’s car as you barrel down the highway
towards a city you are already convinced you are going to love.
And honestly? My life. Would Suck. Without you.
You emerge from the Liberty Tunnel and catch your breath,
not because Pittsburgh is beautiful at night (even though it really, really is),
but because you feel like you’ve seen it before.
You feel the same way when you get that first glimpse of SFU as you drive up Burnaby mountain.
You feel a rush of relief.
Your friend tells you that you’re making a stop before you head to the hotel she’s booked for the night.
You park outside the Igloo and gape at an arena you’ve tried to imagine yourself in for two decades.
You feel like you should be more excited,
like seeing it for the first time should be doing something more to your system than calming it down,
reassuring you that all is well in the universe.
Nothing’s changed, it tells you, See?
You stay up, wandering around Oakland,
consuming legendary hotdogs and fries and cherry Coke at The O,
before returning to the Wyndam to drink three-quarters of a bottle of peach champagne.
You clink glasses at 4:32 a.m.
Now it’s REALLY your birthday.
Your friend insists you open your presents.
She calls you a turd when you say you want to wait, so you agree to open them.
Mostly, you have no idea how to react; it’s been a long time since anyone spoiled you unexpectedly. You honestly weren’t expecting anything: for you, the visit was gift enough.
Seeing her and the friends who will arrive in a little over 24 hours, that is all you want for your birthday.
The idea that someone has actually been plotting the way you plot makes your insides turn to mush
the same way a certain boy makes you turn to mush when he smiles in post-game pressers.
You fall back into the enormous king size bed as you open your gifts.
(Gifts? Plural? You feel badly for only having brought presents you’ve made.)
A mug with the Pittsburgh skyline.
Some orange tea to be made in said mug.
Thoughtful little things that make your heart swell.
(Which you then, stupidly, end up leaving in the trunk of your friend’s car. Oops.)
Then you reluctantly open the boxes.
(Boxes? Plural? What?)
You squeal with joy when you open the first box. You begin to laugh uncontrollably when you open the second.
She is enabling your obsession. Like it needs enabling...
If PSR doesn’t get their sh*t together, you decide, you’ll make the t-shirts you want yourselves.
Three glasses of peach champagne later, you realize it's dawn,
and you figure you should probably get some sleep; you have a big weekend ahead of you.
The king-size bed is so big you forget someone else is in it. It feels like your sleeping on Cloud 9.
You aren’t entirely sure you aren’t dreaming. It’s so surreal anyways.
to be continued...
News!!! Kylie (KD) is going to start posting on Peachy. There will be a few small changes since this will no longer be solely my personal soap box, but frankly it's been more like a message-board/clubhouse for a while anyways so really nothing much of importance will be altered by her contributing. Life is Peachy will still be mostly about whatever we feel like, and a lot about hockey (especially since we are in playoffs), and sometimes (rarely) about things that actually matter... (BAHAHAHA - okay, VERY rarely!) So, peace out, and GO CAROLINA and ANAHEIM !!! (Dany Heatley may kill me for saying that...) and GOOOOO PENS!!!