I wrote this chapter way back on the 22nd December, the day after the last game of the Hinrunde. It wasn’t a good day, they drew 2-2 with H96, throwing away a 2-0 lead in the dying minutes of the game. I can’t help but think how things could have gone differently had that not happened, had they not been so careless at such a crucial moment. I didn’t see the second goal back then, just like I didn’t get to see Petersen’s equaliser in today’s game. An unwanted bit of symmetry there. In a way I’m glad I didn’t see the goal today, it would have been a reminder of what could have been, a false sense of hope. Seeing the score in the corner of the screen was enough. How cruel it can be, to see that 1 sitting tauntingly in the corner as you desperately and furiously pray for just a little bit more extra time.
After drawing that game they spent the Christmas break at the foot of the table, and usually the teams that are bottom of the table at Christmas are relegated come match-day 34. That was only true of one of them this season (last season Nürnberg and Braunschweig were the two bottom teams at Christmas and they were both duly relegated come the end of the season) for Dortmund did not get relegated, they of course rescued their season in enough time to still be able to qualify for at least the Europa League. Freiburg came out ready for a fight after the winter break, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1, but it wasn’t to be enough to save them in the end. I’m so very disappointed for them, for me and for Jogi that this story does not have a happy ending. But a promise is a promise, I said that come the final day of the season I would post it. I know it’s technically a Christmas story, at least it belongs to that set of stories and some people would say that’s bad luck but at this point it doesn’t really matter, the worst has already happened.
This is my 450th post, that should be something to celebrate, being 50 away from 500. I never thought I’d get even close to getting to such a number. I was sure I would quit or get bored just as I do with everything else but it seems this is here to stay. I should be pleased that I’ve reached such a number, but I can’t feel happy about anything right now, it’s just not possible. Every-time I do think a good thought or something good happens, like the great addition I just found for my ticket collection on eBay, it comes back, the reality of today, that crushing feeling of disappointment. Back then I couldn’t say that Freiburg being bottom of the table ruined my Christmas because I’m not really a big fan of Christmas anyway. Just as here I can’t say it’s ruined my summer because I’m not a fan of the summer break either. I just hope it hurts less as the weeks go by, though something tells me that’s not going to be the case.
Having sworn to not wear this shirt again until they are back in the top flight, now I don’t want to take it off. I have lots of Germany shirts to wear instead, but none of them mean what this one does. I think by keeping it on it’s making me feel worse, a constant reminder of the day’s events, but equally taking it off feels wrong knowing that I can’t wear it again. I can’t bear to put it away, not just yet. I don’t think hanging it up near my bed so that’s the last thing I’ll see before going to sleep is going to help any but it’s what I’ve done. It’s not going to get better is it, reminders or not? Nothing is going to help lift the crushing sense of despair right now.
I need next season’s shirt I already, I need to start saving for it now, so that least I know I’ll be getting one. I need to look down and see that familiar badge there once more.
Anyhow, here’s the story:
Like he had done on so many other occasions Hansi was watching Jogi pack his suitcase, watching as he carefully took each item from its place and then neatly folded and placed them inside. Hansi was not a happy Hansi however, in spite of the fact that he was watching Jogi at work. He was unhappy because he would not be falling asleep safely wrapped in Jogi’s arms, he would not be spending today’s game sitting next to Jogi and he would be the one who tied Jogi’s tie before he went on TV tonight. The only good thing about tonight was that a certain other person would not be there either; he had not been a part of the summer’s events so there was no reason for him to be there. Hansi did not feel at all threatened by him, but he was still glad, he would not have liked the idea of him sitting where he should have been.
Seeing Jogi examine the suit and check it one more time for any imperfections, Hansi thought back to the day it had been delivered and the first time he had tried it on. Hansi had been watching as avidly then as he was now.
He wished he could drive Jogi there, just to maximise the time spent with him but he couldn’t drive there and be back in time for the game. Part of Hansi wished Jogi didn’t have his license back yet, and then he could have driven him to the train station and spent just a little more time with him. He would see him the next morning, yet that was far too long for Hansi. How he would hate saying goodbye, having to let him go.
Hansi’s loneliness continued throughout the day, right through to the match. The one source of happiness was that because Jogi was not here, he could wear his Santa hat. Jogi may not approve, it may not go with his formal attire and he may be the only one wearing one where he was sitting, he did not care. He liked the hat, that was enough for him. The hat was not enough to temper his unhappiness at the empty seat next to him. Throughout the game he kept glancing at it, almost wishing that he had invited someone just so that he would not have to see the empty seat. But he could not have done that, as much as he hated seeing the empty seat, he would have hated it even more to see someone else sitting there. Plus it would have been embarrassing if he had leant over to them, forgetting that it wasn’t Jogi sitting next to him. As he no doubt would have done when Freiburg scored just before half time, his happiness at the goal for Jogi’s home team was reduced somewhat when he thought about how happy Jogi would be if he were here right now. A feeling which multiplied when towards the end of the game Freiburg scored a second. If Jogi were here right now no doubt Hansi would find himself the recipient of a joyful hug. It wasn’t often this season that Freiburg gave reason to celebrate, how typical it would be that on what was shaping up to be a great evening for them Jogi was not here. In the 93rd minute, Hansi found his feelings completely reversed; all of a sudden he was glad that Jogi was not here. Now that he wasn’t Hansi would not have to witness the disappointment on his face as his team threw away what would be only have been their third victory this season. Not anger just that crushed look on his face that Hansi would have been completely helpless to do anything about.
Despite the disappointment of the game, a part of Hansi wished he could stay there at the stadium, since he felt so close to Jogi there. Anything to avoid going back to not only an empty house and worse, an empty bed. Stay he could not if he wanted to see Jogi on TV later that night.
Later that night Hansi settled down in front of the TV, waiting expectantly to see Jogi. He was filled with joy as he saw him on the screen, his hair perfect as always and his new suit looking as perfect as it had the first time Hansi saw it. He would be able to reassure Jogi later that night, since he would no doubt ask how it had looked, that it looked great. His tie perfect despite Hansi not being there to check it. Hansi noted the way his hand kept going to said tie, as if he wanted to take it off and knowing him, replace it with a scarf. He wished he was there to be the one to untie it for him and to unbutton the first few buttons of his shirt. With what was left of the night he tried and failed to occupy himself, he was waiting anxiously for the agreed upon time for the phone call. His mind would not settle then but at least he we would be a little happier hearing Jogi’s voice. The minute hand on his watch would just not move fast enough.
Finally the time was here, the time for their customary phone call. Jogi phoned him, as always, just like the first time so he could start the conversation with those exact same words, “Hansi, ich liebe dich.”
Straight afterwards he asked Hansi about the game, for once this was more important than his suit. He wanted to know how they had managed to throw away the lead they had, Hansi had no answers for him. He hated hearing his voice sound like that, knowing he could do nothing about it. He diverted the conversation quickly to the topic of his suit, telling Jogi before he could get a chance to ask that it looked great. Jogi sounded a little more cheerful at hearing this. Hansi imagined him lying on the bed as he was himself, propped up by pillows, his hand reaching up to his hair every few minutes as always.
How big and empty the bed seemed without Jogi there next to him. Jogi in his hotel room was thinking similar thoughts, he thought about Hansi all alone at home, how he didn’t know what to do with himself, there seemed to be no way to get comfortable, and he didn’t feel right without Hansi in his arms. Sleep was not going to be easy to come by tonight, for either of them. At least Hansi would have Jogi’s pillow to fall asleep holding. It was strange, normally Hansi was the one to be held, but the sweet smell of Jogi’s pillow in his arms would have to suffice. Jogi did not even have that, all night he tossed and turned restlessly. The first thing he would do when he got back would be to take Hansi in his arms, winning trophies was a great feeling, but it or anything else could not come close to holding Hansi, that was truly the greatest and sweetest feeling of all.