Tobin laid awake in bed, staring at the ceiling tiles without blinking. But she wasn’t even thinking of what she looking at. Instead, she was thinking intently about the whirlwind that was the last 4 weeks of her life. Glancing to her left, she saw the clock read 2:42 a.m. Normally, she’d turn the t.v. on to see if anything was on to occupy her mind but she was back in camp for the victory tour, sharing a room with Christen Press.
Tobin liked when she was set up to room with Christen. They both took sleeping very seriously, although Christen was more serious about the amount of hours she had scheduled whereas Tobin just liked the actual act of it. Still, Tobin found that sharing a room with Christen allowed thoughtful conversation and a considerate roommate.
“What’s wrong?” The sound startled Tobin.
“Sorry, did I wake you? I didn’t mean to. We have a few hours until we have to be up, so go back to sleep”, apologized Tobin.
“How would you wake me?” laughed Christen. “You’ve been silent. I was just awake, scrolling through Instagram and I saw you move and stare at the clock.”
Tobin hadn’t see the light from Christen’s phone. “I can’t sleep even though I’m so exhausted. I feel like my mind has hasn’t stopped in months. My family, this team, moving, Shirley…it’s just been a lot to balance lately and I want to give each area my full attention. So I guess in order to do that, it means less sleep”.
“Ok,” Christen said slowly. “But what can you do at 2:30 in the morning that will help you with any of that?”
“Good question, I guess not much except for making notes in my head that I’ll forget in the morning,” Tobin said.
The light flipped on. “Ah!” Tobin’s eyes tried to adjust quickly as she pulled the sheets even further up her face. “Oh stop, you’re fine” Christen claimed. “Planning is something I can help with, let me get a pen.”
Tobin watched Christen swing her legs over the edge of the bed. A hot August night in Pittsburgh, she was only wearing a pair of black cotton shorts and a white tank top that hugged her hips closely. Tobin tried not stare, but she did find Christen attractive. She almost thought everyone already knew this; it was kind of an unspoken understanding from everyone on their team. Both girls were friendly, sometimes flirtatious, but nothing serious. Tobin was with Shirley and Christen had dated here and there throughout the past two years. Tobin admired the way Christen handled her breakups, if you’d even call them that. She was friendly and supportive to the people who meant the most to her, even if their situations left them in less than ideal situations.
“Tobin?” Christen was standing over her waiting for their eyes to meet as Tobin realized she’d been caught lingering of the sight of Christen’s legs. When they finally did meet, it was mixed with softness and embarrassment on both ends. “Ok, well…I think you should map out the dates of the next two months to determine where you need to be and how you can fit everyone in.”
Her hands reaching for the pen and paper Christen had found, Tobin sat up resting her back against the headboard. Christen knelt at the base of the bed with her phone open to the tentative national team schedule from August-October.
“I need to go to Paris at some point, maybe twice. Shirley can’t come here with her schedule, so I’m going to have to go see her. I went in February for a week between camps, so I know exactly how to manage the time and travel.”
“Whoa three times this year, that shows you’re really in it,” Christen acknowledged with her eyebrows raised. “Well, I mean, I usually go to see her because I’m familiar with Paris and I like to see other people, too” Tobin half lied.
It was only a half lie because while she did like to see old teammates and her favorite Parisian spots, she kept mentioning to Shirley that she was making arrangements in Portland to spend time together and working in the conversation about getting an NWSL contract to set up their future together. Shirley seemed to play along with Tobin’s excitement about the possibility of being together in Portland, but Tobin knew her heart wasn’t quite in it..maybe. While Shirley made comments about settling down and starting a family, which to be honest terrified Tobin since was younger and not ready for that, she also had lot of goals to accomplish for both PSG and the Costa Rican national team. It seemed to Tobin that their time apart from each other was spent working on individual goals and the little time they had together was trying to fit each other into the big picture of their lives. Tobin was proud of her and encouraged Shirley at every turn, but the balance of long distance and living separate lives was tough. More often than not, it was Tobin offering to travel and find some flexibility in her schedule.
“…and so that’s when I knew.” Christen finished. Tobin stared blankly into Christen’s green eyes. “I’m sorry, I just missed what you said.”
Christen’s eyes smiled back at Tobin, “it’s ok, I was just saying I think it’s really great of you to go back and forth like you do. I know how hard that is and how hard a long distance relationship is to keep up. It says a lot about you and the type of person you are in a relationship.” “Thanks, I try really hard to keep up with the people I love and spend quality time with them,” Tobin offered.
“Well I guess you just don’t love me then, yet” Christen joked. The statement made Tobin’s heart skip a beat. “I, uh..” Tobin stammered. Laughter slipped through Christen’s grin and she playfully put both hands to her heart. “You just keep breaking my heart, here!”
Tobin knew Christen was kidding, but it still rubbed Tobin in a guilty way. She liked Christen; she really did. Sometimes more than she should and so she kept her at arm’s length so she wouldn’t get too close. “Ok, enough, you’re making me feel bad!” Tobin squealed with her arms flailing.
When the pair finally settled down and finding a small window of opportunity to visit France, Tobin looked up at Christen with appreciation. She was glad to have Christen with her, she felt calmer and happier in the moment. “Ok, now I’ve wasted a half hour out of your sleep schedule, so get back to your own bed and let me worry about this at a decent hour.”
Christen reluctantly moved off of Tobin’s bed, collecting the pen and paper from her hands and placing them between them on the nightstand. When she bent over quickly, Tobin could see down her top, exposing more than she should be seeing. Climbing into bed, Christen flipped off the light and rolled the opposite direction of Tobin’s eyes, indicating she hadn’t caught her looking…again.
But it was what Christen said after a few moments of silence that really caught Tobin’s attention.
“Well, all I know is if it were me, I’d be the one making the trip to see you every chance I had.”
Did I really say that out loud? Did she not hear me or is she choosing to ignore it? Christen had death grip on the comforter pulled to her chin. Her mind was racing. While some people thought she was shy and somewhat timid, she was actually pretty bold when it came to flirting and communicating with girls she liked. But Tobin is different, she was a friend first and they worked together. She had to watch her words and more importantly her eyes and hands. Before she knew it, Christen heard light breathing sounds from the other side of the room, signaling Tobin was finally asleep. She didn’t hear it.
The next morning, Christen moved quickly to turn off the alarm before it wailed even louder. Looking over, Tobin was in the same position she fell asleep in, but her eyes were wide open.
“Morning, I’m going to head out early to grab a coffee and mediate, want anything?” Christen blurted out.
Tobin looked at her with a smile, face bare from makeup and hair clinging to the pillow. “Coffee, all the coffee,” she said.
Christen moved about the room, feeling Tobin’s eyes following her. She stopped to turn on the tv, hopefully giving her a distraction since Christen wasn’t feeling exactly her best at the moment. Over the years the entire team has come to know each other very well and seen all their lowest points while living together, but Christen tried a little harder around Tobin. She rushed to brush her teeth, pull her hair back and make sure she looked presentable in her clothes before heading out.
Now seeing Tobin sit up in bed with the remote to her chin and a game on the tv made her smile before she said, “Ok, I’m out, I’ll be back for breakfast!”
Feeling the fresh air and the morning sun, Christen moved quickly down the sidewalk to a Starbucks. When she got to the front of the line, she realized she hadn’t even asked Tobin what kind of coffee she wanted. She knew she liked different things, but wasn’t sure if she should guess or ask what she was in the mood for. Pulling out her phone to text Tobin, she already saw she had a message from her.
Tobin: Cappuccino, please :)
Grabbing a fruit cup before she paid, Christen thought back to her comment the night before. I do like Tobin, I’ve always liked her. But it’s wrong, she’s in a relationship. It’s wrong of me to make any comments that put her in that spot. And it’ll probably push me even further away from her if she realizes how I feel. But then again, I catch her saying things or more frequently looking at me in the same way I look at her. Maybe this isn’t one sided..?
Christen’s thoughts went back and forth for the next 15 minutes while she attempted to mediate outside on a bench, her purchases in front of her. At the end of 15 minutes, she realized she wasn’t getting far and mostly was focusing on getting back to Tobin before breakfast. To be honest, this team does have cliques. Christen came in a weird time and didn’t have a “core” of good friends. She had friends of course, but she spent most of her time with Cheney and Whit, sometimes Kling and JJ but separately. She loved Ali, but she was mostly occupied by Ashlyn in this environment during free time. Tobin herself was good friends with Alex, HAO, Amy and Cheney, but in reality she was friends with everyone. Who didn’t love to be around Tobin? It meant for Christen that she had small opportunities to be around Tobin, which is where she really wanted to be.
Walking quickly back to their room, she saw the door was opened when she got there. Sprawled across her bed was Becky, who was intently watching the TV with Tobin. Christen’s heart sank a little bit, but she put on a smile anyway. “Morning Becky, you’re up and moving early!”
“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep last night and heard the door slam when you left, so I came over to see if Tobin was up.” Christen’s eyes shifted to Tobin, who was already looking at her. “Looks like we weren’t the only ones who were up late last night” she acknowledged to Christen.
Becky’s head whipped to look at Tobin, a puzzled look on her face. Even though people were generally aware that Tobin and Christen had a bit of chemistry and looked at each other a little differently, they all knew they had never acted on it. Tobin noted the look and shook her head back and forth. “Just up talking about what the rest of the year look like for all of us. Chris, do you have my coffee by any chance?”
Christen hadn’t taken her eyes off of Tobin the entire time. “OH, yes, sorry, here.”
“I wasn’t sure if you saw my text, is it a cappuccino?”
Christen nodded, “sorry, my hands were full so I didn’t reply. But yes it is.”
“You da best.”
Turning around, she felt a flutter in her stomach. With a half smile and skip step, she also let Tobin know there was a fruit cup in the bag on the tv stand for her and she’d see them both at breakfast a little later on..
One of the first to arrive at breakfast, Christen grabbed a plate and linked her arms in Ali’s. Ali and Becky had been roommates, so she was awake from Becky’s movements. “What looks good?” she asked, knowing Ali would say everything. Sitting down with a plate full of stuff she probably shouldn’t have first thing in the morning, she saw people file in the room in twos and threes. Eventually when she had cleaned her plate, she saw Tobin come in alone. Anticipating she would go straight to the buffet and then to a different table (since hers was full with JJ, Ali, Ashlyn, Crystal and Kling) she kept talking and pushing crumbs around her plate. After a moment, she felt something bump her chair and looked back with a quick look of annoyance. She looked up to see Tobin carrying a chair and trying to squeeze if between her and Kling. Surprised, Christen made room quickly for her to sit.
Tobin sat cross legged on the chair, drinking a second cup of coffee and eating a half a bagel from her hand, no plate. She must have seen Christen’s looking at her choices because she said, “the fruit cup filled me up, just something small for now.” Christen blushed, somewhat pleased with herself for knowing Tobin would appreciate the fruit cup. But as conversation continued at the table, she couldn’t help but think, why did she come sit next to me?
The rest of the day meant meetings and practice, meetings and practice. Tomorrow was game day, so at least tonight they would be able to have some time for dinner outside of the team environment. When they were finally back in the room, both girls flopped on their beds without removing of their practice gear. “My legs are killing me, I feel so dehydrated and cramped,” Christen whined. Tobin only groaned. Truth was, they hadn’t been doing a whole lot of intensive training in the last month. Christen saw Tobin’s exhaustion as an opportunity. “Want to just skip dinner and get room service tonight?” Her question was met with a moment of silence. Her heart was already moving up her throat when Tobin said, “no, let’s go out. We’ll be upset if we hole up in here all night and not see the city a little.”
Tobin had a point, as tired as they were, open practice had been so fun and so far she was liking what she saw of Pittsburgh. Others had ventured off to Kling’s childhood home and a few girls made reservations at the steakhouse beside their hotel.
“Ok, well, you pick while I’ll shower first.” Turning into the bathroom, Christen felt the smile she had come to have on so frequently in the last few days creep up again.