Working night shift is not for the faint of heart. One day you’re having beer and eggs at 8a while the next you are sleeping at noon. It’s constant confusion for my body and I’m perpetually tired. BUT I never turn down an opportunity to go out Because who is going to be able to  party like a rock star other than your favorite night shifters.

A few weeks ago, my PICU crew and I went to a hockey match kind of as a team building experience and a chance for some of the veterans to get to know some of the rookies [since we’re speaking in sport now’].. As it happens, one of the PICU vets lives in the same neighborhood as one of the players. He got a handful of guys to meet out group at the local sports bar right before the season really took off.

“HI” a tall, broad-shouldered, baby-face said as he came up to me. “Do you work with these guys?”

“I do. Do you play hockey with these guys?” I countered.

We both smiled at our pick-up lines.

“What position do you play?” I ask him before asking something more useful, like his name.

“Right wing. And you?”

I could see him blush at that mistake. I pretended not to notice.

“I’m a pediatric respiratory therapist. My name is Liza… ElizaMarie, but that’s a mouthful so most people just call me Liza.”

“Justin. Wellman.”

You didn’t seem very interested and after my crap-tastic year, I didn’t want to have another rejection on my hands, even if its someone I’ve literally known for five minutes.

***** ****** ***** ****** ******** ******* ****** ********* ********** ***********

“Hey Liza, wait up.” One of my coworkers was calling after me “Do you remember meeting a guy named Justin at the bar when we all went there together?”

“Yeah, why?”

‘”He asked me if I had your contact info and if so, would I give it to him.”

“Hmmm, that’s odd. He couldn’t even string together a five word sentence when we were face to face.”

“He also asked me to apologize for that if you brought it up. So can I give him your info. Justin is a cool guy, one of the quieter ones on the team, but definitely not a playboy or anything.”

‘I mean I guess so, Can’t hurt, can it?” [Spoiler alert: it can]

***** ****** ****** ******* ******** ******* ********* ******** ********** *********

Three months later, we were officially dating–as much as a night-shifter and traveling hockey player could in season. We often met late in the evening after practice and games or early mornings walking out of the hospital. [Yes, he came to the hospital to walk me out. It’s always a head turner when a 6-4 220 pound guy is walking through the beds lobby] We were cute and definitely in lust.

“Come to Canada with me. I want you to meet my family” Justin implored me one day as we were grabbing a bite after his team had won yet another game. They were doing really well this year. “The mid season break is in a few weeks and we all get time off. I want to take you home to Canada Neither of us was able to do anything for Christmas or New Years due to work, but this will give up time to spend together..”

“You do know that I have been to Canada before, right? When I talked about wanting to travel the world, Canada wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.” We had recently been making loose plans to ‘go somewhere’ after the season was over. For me, I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been. Paris. London. Rome. He wanted to go to a beach. somewhere secluded.

“Hey, it’s a start.” you laughed.

In the three months since our first date, we’d become as inseparable as two people can be under our circumstances. It helped that neither of us had family locally and spent all our free time together. It helped that I liked hockey before we met so his world wasn’t a complete shock to me. My world–well that’s something that even other healthcare workers don’t understand, but at least he listened when I talked about my feelings about my job. Also. Canada. In February? Not the best selling point.

“Justin, I have a better idea. Let’s go somewhere nice and sunny on your break.” I offered, hoping for a nice Caribbean weekend instead of frosty Ontario winter. “You even said how you wanted to go to a beach. We could go to the Dominican Republic or Aruba or anywhere really.”

But I could feel it–our first major disagreement bubbling up. You thought saying no to Canada was saying no to you–and to a lesser extent, your family.

Truth be told I was terrified of meeting your family. Family makes it real and without a family of my own to counter, what did that mean? Meeting family meant questions of marriage and children; neither of which I could confidently answer. And while I am certain about my feelings in the moment, how can I be expected to plan a future in where I can’t do my job in your hometown, and you never know where you’ll be next season..

***** ****** ***** ******* ******** ******* ****** ******** ******* ******** **********

Something shifted when I said no to Canada. By the time I realized it, it was too late. I already loved you, and knew that you were going to break my heart just like the others.


Counting Crows: Accidentally in love

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