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The state of my heart, the place where we are

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Ontario youth sports Board


The colorful flyer was stapled with everything else Patrick received at the introductory meetup on the diamond behind the ice rink; a handwritten schedule of practices, a phone tree/parent snack signup, and information on uniform orders. Patrick was so excited to finally be able to play real, junior level baseball. No more hanging around with tee-ballers, having the coaches pitch, and overcrowded benches where he only got to play a few innings with half the kids not paying attention either on or off the field.

Even though they had only played catch and shagged balls in the outfield, he had dirt on his sweatpants, his burgeoning curls were matted down under his Blue Jays cap, and he gingerly held all the important stuff until he could make it back to his Dad’s pickup truck to be safely transported home.

His mom had been eager to hear about his first practice and meticulously hung the schedule on the fridge and filled in his sizes for his uniform. Patrick had blossomed in reading and writing in school over the last year, so Marcy asked him if he’d like to have a pen pal and explained how it worked. Always the go-getter, Patrick asked his mom to sign him up, and he eagerly waited for the information.

⚾⚾⚾

David dramatically stomped back into the foyer. The tap shoes, which apparently had the unattractive name of cleats, clipped across the marble floor. Francis, their family driver, had picked David up from the baseball place after school, but wouldn’t even stop by the ice cream shop no matter how much David begged.

“Why so sad?” his nanny Adelina asked, looking at the pouty boy after he tossed a manila envelope onto the counter before clamoring up on the barstool for the snack waiting for him

“It was hot, and boring, and everyone was rude,” David tucked into the warm chocolate chip cookies, mumbling around the crumbs.

“Chew first, please,” Adelina chided before pulling out all the paperwork. She would make a copy of the schedule for David’s parents, but it was unlikely either of them would be around for many games. His dad may try to stop by a few, but would have to head back to the office when his car phone started to ring.

“David, would you like a pen pal? This says you can meet someone new. You are always writing in that journal.” Adelina slid the flyer across the counter top. Young David glanced over it as he finished his second cookie, a hopeful look on his face.

“Maybe, it would be interesting to make a friend… if they ever write back” David’s mood became more pessimistic as he completed his sentence, but somewhere deep inside he held out hope that maybe something good might come from this sports-thing his dad insisted on for the sake of family tradition.

⚾⚾⚾

As soon as Patrick got his pen pal match in the mail, he asked his mom for some of her good paper and anything but one of those free pens dad got at the bank, getting to work right away. Marcy helped double check that he wrote out the address correctly to one “David R.”, put on postage, and he proudly put it in the mailbox before school.

Dear David,

My name is Patrick and I am your pen pal! I am 12 years old. I am guessing you are probably around the same age too! My birthday was just in April and we had a big party where all my cousins came over. When is your birthday and what did you do for it last time?

My form said that you also played baseball, which makes sense having that shared between us. I am so hyped to finally be playing real baseball, even though most everyone is still bigger than me. Maybe this summer I’ll finally catch up. I like playing shortstop and right field. My arm is pretty strong, coach says. What about you? What positions do you play? Do you play any other sports?

What other things do you like? My older cousin Jesse plays guitar and I’d like to learn. I love watching hockey, but I just play for fun and street hockey in the summer. My mom, dad, and I are going to rent a cottage up north too this summer. I want to really fish and not in just some dinky pond. Mom says I can have as many s’mores as I want too! Are you going on any trips? If so, I hope you have fun!

Well, can’t wait to hear from you!

Patrick

⚾⚾⚾

Adelina had left David the sheet with his pen pal match on the desk in his room. He eyed it warily for a day or two before opening it and reading the little survey about one “Patrick B”. It was set aside until David could think of how to start. He had sort of forgotten that joining a sports pen pal club might mean the other person was into sports, but at least other things were mentioned too.

A few days later when he came home from school, there was an envelope addressed to him in stilted blue handwriting waiting at the kitchen island next to his afternoon snack.

“Your pen pal?” Adelina asked as if she didn’t already know the answer.

David hummed out a response in the affirmative and tucked the envelope into his backpack before he headed upstairs. He had his first game tonight, so maybe this would take his mind off of things since he wasn’t really looking forward to it. After he slipped out of his school uniform and shut the door so Alexis and her armful of Barbies would not bother him, he quietly read the letter.

The thing that struck David the most was how much Patrick had asked about him, what he liked, and what he did. Even though half of them were sports questions where he didn’t even know the vocabulary, David realized that not a lot of people outside Adelina, including his parents, other kids at school, or teachers, really seemed to want to know about David’s interests. Sure, his parents would pay for the art tutor, or the kids who wanted to get invited to the extravagant parties that Rose Video threw would compliment him on his pricey backpack or pretend to care about the book he was reading, but it wasn’t about David himself or why he was passionate about something. That was a new feeling. A good feeling.

David opened the heavy drawer of his desk and took out the stationary Adelina had gotten him, reminding himself to ask questions just like Patrick did and not just prattle on about himself only.

Dear Patrick,

Thank you for your letter. I am turning 13 in July. Last year we saw some Cirque du Soleil performers, but my parents had to leave early. I don’t know what is going to happen this year. I don’t have any cousins that we talk to, so that must be interesting having a lot of family like that. What sort of stuff do you do together?

I actually am not very into sports. My dad played baseball as a kid, and well, I am more into art. I don’t find it very fun, though the snacks after look promising. Right now, they seem to stick me in the grassy meadow area for practice and we seem to run out of time before I can use the stick to try to hit. That’s ok, I like my seat by myself.

I like to listen to music and I write in my journal a lot. Who are your favorite singers? I like to draw and doodle, and read about art and go to museums when we are on trips. I have a little sister and I try to keep her out of my room. I don’t like the outside much. There are bugs.

But, I am interested in s’mores. I never can say no to sweets.

David

Adelina came in just as he finished with his baseball outfit which she traded him for the letter to go out in the evening mail drop. After wrangling Alexis and David delaying as much as possible, they headed to the baseball game. David stayed on the bench for the first part, but his eyes kept drifting to the parking lot to see if Alberto, his dad’s driver, pulled up. He never did.

The moment he dreaded happened, with the coach calling for “Damon Rose”, which David quickly corrected, before he was handed a helmet and bat.

It all went downhill from there.

Not long after, David was flinging himself onto his bed, without a care if his usually meticulous room got covered in dirt. He wouldn’t let Adelina in, letting his quiet sobs and muffled snuffles tire him out.

When he woke the next morning before sunrise, he got up and saw Patrick’s letter perched on the edge of his desk. There was only one thing left to do.

Dear Patrick,

I know you will probably get a letter from me right before this, but I quit the baseball team last night. After I was told I now hold the record for “most times hit by the ball” and everyone, even my own teammates, laughed at me, I realized it was a big mistake. I don’t know why I care, I don’t even like baseball.

Please tell the sports board to give you a much better match.

I am sorry I wasted your time.

David

On his way to school, David asked Francis to go by the post office. The driver pulled up to the row of mailboxes along the sidewalk, letting David roll down the window and shove his last ever correspondence with Patrick B. into the postal box. David slumped back down into his seat, not ready to hear the whispered stories and giggles through the halls about his dramatic exit from team sports last night

⚾⚾⚾

“Patrick, mail!” his mom called up the stairs.

Patrick slammed his science textbook shut, he had enough reading about the endocrine system for one day, and raced down the stairs.

“Don’t jump,” his mother warned, her back turned as she stirred the pasta on the stove with Patrick about to launch himself onto the landing from the third step.

He shook his head at her mom-sense before he slid across the floor to the kitchen table and the two envelopes leaning against the napkin holder. They had the same handwriting, both addressed to him. Strange.

“Dinner will be ready in twenty minutes, don’t be late!” she reminded him before stepping into the laundry room.

Patrick clammored back up the stairs, the letters tight in his grasp. He tried to decide what order to open them, going with the one with the neater handwriting first. He carefully tore open the edge and unfolded the paper. He felt himself being pulled down the page quickly, smiling at David’s responses. He had to have been lucky enough to find the most interesting pen pal in a sport-oriented exchange, but he wasn’t complaining. While he did love sports, there was so much more that he was interested in, so having someone who wasn’t only a jock who played in every travel league was sort of a relief.

Already formulating what some of his responses will be, Patrick ripped open the second letter which was much shorter. He felt his face crumple a bit reading back what had happened to David. He felt guilt for his feelings towards some of his less enthusiastic peers in years before, but it sounded like David had tried his best, hadn’t received a lot of support from his coaches or teammates, and didn’t deserve to be bullied as he was.

Looking at the clock, Patrick knew he couldn’t get everything he wanted out before dinner, but he thought it would be better to let his emotions settle as it was. He neatly placed the letters on the center of the desk before scampering off to wash his hands so he could set the table for his mom.

⚾⚾⚾

David was relieved when Adelina said she had talked to his dad and told him how poorly baseball went. He didn’t put up a fight about David quitting. Still feeling the after effects of the whole event, David laid low in his room, even with the spring weather. Adelina did try to cheer him up with a few of her famous dishes on the nights when their parents were out of town and their cook had the day off, regaling him and Alexis with tales of being raised with her brothers in a life so different from that of the Roses.

On Saturday morning, their main housekeeper came through the kitchen with the mail and placed an envelope in front of David as he finished the silly Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes that he tried to tell Adelina he was too old for, but that he secretly enjoyed. His eyebrows furrowed, recognizing the handwriting in blue ink. Maybe the second letter hadn’t gotten to Patrick fast enough. Or he wanted to tell David himself what a bad match he was for lying about his sports interests and then abandoning him, especially since Patrick had seemed so open to sharing.

With one last glug of milk, David climbed the staircase and walked back to his room. The late spring sun warmed the air, and he cracked open a window to let the breeze in before he sat at his desk. He figured it was best to get this over with. Biting his bottom lip, he ripped open the envelope, noting suspiciously that there were two pages to the letter.

With a deep breath and his eyes closed as shook out the pages to full size, David finally looked down to read.

Dear David,

I wanted you to know that I got both of your letters on the same day. I am so, so sorry for what happened to you at your game. That should have never happened and I am really sad that it stopped you from getting to see what fun baseball can be. I know you said that you didn’t like sports and that is ok! I don’t like everything either. I spent the last two years wanting to get to this level because some other kids did not take it seriously, but I know some people just want to have fun or try it out. Thank you for helping me remember that.

If it is okay with you, even if you aren’t playing baseball, would you still want to be my pen pal?

And the letter went on from there.

Patrick answered David’s questions and asked more of him as if he didn’t think anything differently of him. The kind responses gave David the idea to ask Patrick if he’d had stuff like the snacks he had on the mini-road trip the Roses had taken to have more of a “normal” family adventure. Swedish berries and Ketchup chips had been a great discovery for David who was used to fancy dinner crudités and passed hors d'oeuvres that were often a mystery to him.

David smiled with the memory of spending time with just his parents. They may have gotten turned around once or twice and it took some time for David to adjust to seeing his dad behind the wheel, but the feel of the sun on his face as they enjoyed ice cream on a rickety old picnic table and the weird attractions they had stopped to see, like that town sign with the bad word, made David long for just having a simple life with his parents and sister and not so many other people around.

David got his paper out right away and figured that while he may have failed at baseball, he could succeed at being a pen pal.

📝📝📝

As the weeks and months and the years went on, so did David and Patrick’s communication. As expected, after the initial flurry of letters, things slowed down so that they usually alternated writing a letter every one or two weeks, sharing stories of the past and what was going on in their lives currently.

David told Patrick the story of his Bar Mitzvah the following year and how the basketball met his nose. David was in middle school, and he had started to realize even among his private school friends that his family was much more wealthy. In his letters, he often tried to hide the true reality, so he said his dad got him a basketball hoop versus building an entire court in their backyard. They had still never shared their last names and all of the Roses’ personal mail was routed through a separate address for safety reasons, so he figured he could keep his identity a secret for now. David had noticed the way people had looked at his family’s standing and he didn’t want that to cloud Patrick’s perception of him.

Patrick sent his sympathies and told David of some of his more gnarly injuries like stepping on a nail or running into the hitching post of a camper and knocking his front tooth out, hoping he wouldn’t feel alone. Patrick shared his vanity about the scar on his eyebrow after he got it from trying his cousin’s pogo stick on a cement driveway, so David shared some drugstore products he heard might help after quizzing his mom’s makeup artist before a shoot in their gardens.

Patrick also told David about his guitar lessons, continuing exploits of baseball, some of his newer friends as he got into upper middle school, including Rachel who seemed to want to hang around him a lot. She was nice, funny, and his parents liked her. Patrick asked David earnestly if he had ever dated someone or felt like he liked someone more than a friend. David had said no, even though that wasn’t exactly his truth. He had kissed more than a few people, boys and girls, but it felt more like what he was supposed to do than what he really wanted. He didn’t tell Patrick that the thing that really bubbled feelings up for him was receiving his letters.

As technology improved, David hemmed and hawed over asking Patrick if he wanted to move their messages to email. David had the internet for quite a while at their house, but Patrick had said his parents had just gotten it a few months ago, along with a family computer. David decided he would leave the choice up to Patrick in his latest letter.

P.S. No problem if not, and I don’t even know if you have an account, but if you wanted to email me, my address is dr7083@ontarionet.ca

Three days later, when David got home from school, there was a message waiting.

From: baseballpb1@canweb.ca

Subject: Hi, it’s Patrick :)

📨📨📨

The throb in David’s head was reminiscent of the deep bass of the warehouse rave that had lasted until 3 am, though was more likely brought on from the night’s libations and pharmaceuticals. The blackout curtains weren’t pulled all the way closed, so the sunlight was streaming in right across his face. He forced himself up and into the bathroom. After washing up and finding the tray with toast, the sparkling flavored water he liked, and a container of pain pills outside of his door, David tossed himself back onto his bed. It was thankfully a Saturday, because trying to finish his senior year and keep up with the party scene had been tough.

With his money came a lot of access, and David felt like he was missing out if he didn’t take advantage of every chance he got. With only about six weeks left until graduation, he was trying to make the most of the many celebrations, but still never felt totally fulfilled. His 18th birthday was upon him too, and the trips, events, and locales scheduled on his summer calendar sounded fun, but he wondered if he was just a way for others to get their kicks. After all, he was the one that paid for everything, who others looked to when the fun started to run out, the one left waiting for someone to make plans or take him on a date.

As the sun started to crest over the house, David curled up in the large office chair in front of his computer. As he waited for it to boot up, he tried to think about where exactly he was going. He had convinced his dad to let him have a gap year, but after that, things were foggy. As the operating system came to life, David’s mouse hovered over the English term paper he needed to finish before clicking on his email.

Patrick had emailed two days ago. Nothing too exciting, just about the playoffs for Varsity baseball, some stuff about looking for a job for the summer, and Rachel wanting a big to-do about the end of the year formal. David bet that Patrick would be such a good date. If he was half as attentive in his emails, picking up on David’s inflection, worries, and concerns, David knew it would be a good time. Any time spent with Patrick would be good, he knew it. David clicked reply, knowing he’d only be thinking about what to write if he didn’t get it out of his system.

From: dr7083@ontarionet.ca

To: baseballpb1@canweb.ca

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: “Hi, It’s Patrick :)” Year 4

====

Dressing up is fun, you should try it sometime! While the parties I go to are a little less formal, it is still nice to set the tone with an outfit.

Nothing much else is up with me, except fighting off a slight hangover (no need for a lecture, thank you, Mr. Responsible) and considering working on this Jane Austen paper.

Not to be random, but have you ever thought about, like, what comes after. I mean, college obviously, but after that? What if we don’t like our majors, or can’t find a job? Or someone to spend time with?

I know you're with Rachel, and that’s great! I mean, I’ve kissed like a thousand people, but go on an actual date? Even something simple like rom-coms on the couch. Maybe I’ve just been partying too much. But, I don’t know if I will ever get that sort of relationship.

Anyway, enough rambling for me. Ms. Austen awaits.

DR

📨📨📨

Patrick moped his way through the front door. They had lost in the semi-finals, so junior year baseball was done. He stripped his uniform in the laundry room and tossed his equipment bag in the garage to deal with later. Rachel had tried to be comforting, but it was the last thing Patrick felt like dealing with. He could see the questions in her eyes, even after she offered a quiet movie night in her parents’ den, but he grumpily pushed her advances off saying he just wanted to sleep and catch up on homework. It was a culmination of many things, only exacerbated by David’s email yesterday, that were building up inside of him. A few sleepless nights, daydreaming during practice, and other little white lies and half truths that were concocted to avoid some more intimate moments with Rachel. He had to stop himself from chuckling when she brought up a movie night, thinking back to David’s email.

How could David know Patrick was also having some of the same questions? With his parents out to dinner for the night after his game, the quiet house, and the rush of the water pouring out of the showerhead he was now standing under, Patrick let all the thoughts toss and turn in his head.

With a couple slices of cold pizza and a pop set up on the tray table, Patrick settled into the computer room. He sometimes wished he was brave enough to ask David if he used some sort of messaging client, or even if he wanted to talk on the phone, but a fear of rejection for asking for too much and bursting the comfortable bubble they had formed over the years from letters to emails loomed. In conjunction with a lot of the questions he was asking himself and some private, discreet web searches on nights like these when his parents were out, Patrick wondered if he would ever be brave enough to truly consider what he wanted for his future. While Patrick had a lot of questions, one of the answers he had been pretty sure of was that he did not see his future with Rachel. But someone like David? Maybe?

It was silly, and just a goofy fantasy. He didn’t even know what David looked like outside of a vague description and only that he lived somewhere around Toronto. What could he offer someone that seemed so much more mature and put together anyway? 

Patrick finally clicked on the email icon and got to typing.

From: baseballpb1@canweb.ca

To: dr7083@ontarionet.ca

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: “Hi, It’s Patrick :)” Year 4

====

Well, we lost the game so that is over. Only 1 year left of baseball. I am sure you are happy to never hear of it again :-P

Funny you mentioned the future as that has been on mind a lot lately. I don’t know if it is just the end of the year or what.

Have you ever broken up with someone not because they aren’t a good person, but you feel like you don’t fit? It’s like, something is wrong with me. Rachel is perfect on paper, but the more I think, I just don’t see us together.

I don’t know exactly where I am going, but it feels like I am a little bit turned around.

Time for homework and sleep for me. Thanks for letting me rant

-P

🎓💔🌈

Patrick had finally done it. After thinking it over for too long, he sat Rachel down and told her the truth, his truth. He loved her as a friend, but there was no future for them because after they had been apart the first semester of college, he had definitely realized he was gay. He hadn’t acted on it, and he was going to tell his parents after the new year, but he did not want to string Rachel along. She was upset at first, but he could see her sadness turn into understanding.

While he had built up what his parents were going to be like in his head, in the end, it was much easier. His mom squeezed him extra tight and silently wiped away the stray tears that had slid down his face. Clint’s eyes crinkled as his large frame wrapped securely around his only child as he whispered “Love ya, mean it” into Patrick’s temple.

There was only one other person he wanted to tell right now.

From: baseballpb1@canweb.ca

To: dr7083@ontarionet.ca

Subject: Hey

====

Sorry for the random separate email. Hopefully it will make sense why. :)

You don’t have to say anything, or respond, but I broke up with Rachel. She knows and my parents know, but I also wanted you to know that I am gay.

-P

✉️✉️✉️

This was the worst day of his life.

Freshly back from a trip to Japan as a pre-20th-birthday celebration, David had just gotten out of the shower, trying to fight off his jet lag. Sipping on a fresh espresso from the small coffee bar he had in the sitting area of his room, he heard the commotion downstairs. Tossing on the first sweater he saw in the closet, he peered over the balcony landing to see what was happening. Below, stern looking federal agents were carrying the Roses’ possessions out the front door; paintings, furniture, sculptures, and were those his mom’s framed Daytime Emmy Nominee certificates?

“Alexis, what the hell is going on!?” David barked at his sister as she stomped up the stairs with her phone plastered to her ear.

“Something about Eli. He took all the money, taxes, I don’t know!” Alexis’s heels clipped on the marble floors as she headed towards her room.

“David!” his father yelled up from the entryway. “You have fifteen minutes to get whatever else besides your clothes packed, or they take it. I'll explain later.”

David rushed into his room and contemplated what should come with, his eyes bouncing from place to place. He pulled open the top drawer of his dresser and put the silver chain on his neck.

Making his way to his desk, he pulled out the large bottom drawer and lifted his wedding dream book from the recesses along with his old journals. Frantically, he ran to grab the cardboard box from a recent clothing delivery to carry it all. He dropped everything on his bed and shimmied open the narrow drawer that ran across the top of the desk. With a thankful sigh that he didn’t forget, he pulled out the many envelopes addressed to “David R.'' as well as the emails he had printed off, all organized by year, and stuffed them safely into the back cover of the large white binder that had JC Chasez and Jenna Elfman decoupaged on the front.

📨⚾🎤

David could feel his heart erratically beating as he finished getting ready. He wanted to be comfortable, but still presentable. He was grateful that the forecast said it wasn’t going to be too warm, so he opted for a long sleeved lightweight sweater that felt more like a t-shirt, his thinner dark wash jeans, and the older pair of high-tops since he didn’t want to risk his best pair not knowing all the ground conditions they would be in. Ever since life had changed for the Roses, it had been a while since he had felt like himself and had something to look forward to, besides when talking to Patrick.

The shame and embarrassment about them losing all their money and being forced to go to Schitt’s Creek had taken some time for David to overcome. If he was being honest with himself, he still wasn’t completely over it, but he knew that if he didn’t try to make some headway, he’d probably be stuck for even longer. He was glad at least he was out of school unlike Alexis who had to enroll to finish her last year, even if those Swiss boarding school transcripts seemed a little sketchy.

He’d built an inroad with Stevie and while he could tell after a drunken kiss that she probably wanted more, he couldn’t do that right now and didn’t want to risk their friendship. Ever present in the back of his mind was Patrick, even though their relationship hadn’t progressed to anything except troll-tinged flirting in the last few years, especially after Patrick came out.

David had felt guilty enough over how he had left Patrick hanging for nearly four months after everything came crashing down. First, he didn’t have internet access for a while. Then, what was he supposed to say? For a brief fifteen minutes that Stevie had let David onto the office computer a few weeks after they arrived in Schitt’s Creek, he saw a curt, but worried email from Patrick.

Did Patrick see the news? Did he already make his own assumptions and connect the dots of who he had been talking to for so long? David had thought maybe some of his other supposed friends might have reached out, but there was nothing. Not to mention, the evites to exclusive parties, designer early access sales, and people wanting to collaborate or gift him things had dried up. But Patrick was there. David’s fear held him back from responding, not knowing how things would settle out for them.

When they all realized that they weren’t going to be able to sell the town and this was their new normal, his parents put some money towards buying a used laptop off of Gwen, Stevie fed an extra internet cord through the office wall, and David could sit down and try to properly reconnect with Patrick. He attempted to keep the details short, and the apology worthwhile, but after some back and forth, he and Patrick fell right back into it. David felt his heart lurch when Patrick told him he had even tried to send a letter to the old address for the Roses, only to have it come back to him weeks later, travel-worn with a giant returned to sender; the addressee has moved without providing a forwarding address. stamped across the front. Unlike all the other friends David had been surrounding himself with, Patrick was sorry for what David and his family had to endure, but he didn’t care what version of David he got, rich or poor. He just seemed to be glad to be back in contact.

Granted, having to sign out the laptop on a clipboard hanging on their parents’ motel room wall was going to take some getting used to, so their conversation was usually spread out since Patrick only had internet access at the library or within the hall that the school of business was located in now that he was college. He regaled David with tales of his goofy suitemates, the club baseball team he was playing on to tease David that high school wasn’t going to be the end of his ‘career’, his tough classes, but kept quiet on any sort of dating. Since he had broken up with Rachel after their deep discussions a year ago and told David he was gay, Patrick had kept his cards close to his chest and that continued after they reconnected. Patrick was a catch and any man would be lucky to have him. David also had realized with the sudden shock that was crash landing into Schitt’s Creek that he himself deserved better than the users and grifters he associated with before. Knowing Patrick and the kind of person he was gave David an inkling of the type of partner he wanted and hopefully deserved in the future.

Circumstances changed fast though, and now David was crammed in a different motel room, nicer than home, but off the noisy highway with Ted, Alexis, and Stevie. Ted’s parents, wanting to celebrate his first year of college, had purchased the group passes to a concert in Toronto and a hotel for the night. And while David was absolutely looking forward to getting away, even if it was with his sister, her boyfriend, and his what-he-guesses-would-be newly minted best friend, to see a band he had never even heard of, there was another reason; Patrick.

Because just ten minutes after he had shared the news of the little getaway, the laptop pinged as a new message had arrived. Patrick was also going to be in Toronto that weekend. A trip with some friends for baseball games after school was out. Before David could let his mind spiral about excuses he’d heard from others about “plans being set” and “oh, it would have been great to see you, next time!”, the end of the email read:

I’d love to meet up in person, if you would like to. No pressure :-)

And even though Patrick knew what David’s opinions on emoticons were, he couldn’t help but smile at the screen.

🚆🌭🌃

So here David was, going to meet the boy, now man, he had been talking with for nearly ten years. The one he had shared so much with and who had shared so much back. He hoped with every hope that it wouldn’t be too awkward or that Patrick wasn’t completely different from the image he had built up in his head. While technology had improved, they had stuck to their emails and only had briefly described to each other what they had looked like. David figured that much like the rest of his life, it was time for him not to be scared or held back by the past. He had both Schitt’s Creek and Patrick to thank for that.

They had made plans to meet up in the small Olympic Park that was described as a “nice collection of benches” around some landscaping in the shadow of the CN Tower and SkyDome. Ted, Alexis, and Stevie were going to head to the music amphitheater and meet up later, Ted having his own cell phone in case David needed to reach them. Patrick was coming early before the game, giving them both an out in case things got weird, David figured.

Patrick told him he’d be wearing a heathered blue t-shirt, jean shorts (even after how incorrect David told him those were), and a blue Blue Jays hat with white sneakers. David, knowing he was always running a little behind schedule, felt like the anxiousness of approaching Patrick would be less than that of waiting for him awkwardly on a bench.

After he got off the inbound train from the suburbs at Union Station, David briskly walked, his nerves pushing him along towards the unknown. The ever-present thought of getting stood up floated through the recesses of his brain. He was glad for his sunglasses, so the many men in a Blue Jays outfit who were slightly shorter than David didn’t get freaked out by David’s scanning them over, thinking he bumped into Patrick.

David found the walkway to the circular path of grass and shrubbery, the CN Tower looming overhead. David was trying to decide which way he should walk before he heard a voice coming from his left.

“David?”

He swallowed and closed his eyes momentarily before turning. The slight curls peaking out from under the cap, strong shoulders, faded jorts, and warm smile all combined to immediately cause butterflies to erupt in David’s stomach.

Hours of conversation later after a baseball game missed, friends called from a payphone to tell them not to wait, street vendor hotdogs shared, apprehensive fingers intertwined during the twilight, and promises made between coy kisses under the cover of the muted urban stars, they both felt they had finally answered that question of “what comes next?” which they had innocently asked each other a few years ago.

💕💕💕

Epilogue

David looked in the mirror one last time. He could hear the muffled sounds of his mom and dad in the adjoining room and the familiar clicking of Alexis’s shoes, this time on the cement walkway outside as everyone bustled about.

As David opened the top drawer of the dresser to put on his cologne, there was an envelope covering the bottle addressed to “David R.” in that familiar blue handwriting. David wasn’t about to let his face get puffy, so he sucked in a deep lungful of air, carefully released the seal, preserving everything about this moment that had been fifteen years in the making.

His shaky hands unfolded the simple piece of loose-leaf notebook paper before he finally let himself look down at the letter.

Dear David,

(I can’t believe this is happening)

My name is Patrick and I get to become your husband today.

-P