1-13: Dear Journal…

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I’m thinking about retiring after this season.  I’ve done so much and I’m only 31. With San Myshuno FC I’ve been a league champion 4 times, a cup champion twice, and even played with the US National Team the last 4 years.  I have more money than I know what to do with. I have invested wisely and I’m getting a return on those investments.

I don’t want to be one of those guys who doesn’t know when to quit.  Yeah, I probably have 3-5 more years left in me. Yeah, I could still step out on that pitch in the Blue and Black in front of 90,000 fans and love every minute of it.  Yeah, I would love to win the league again. But when is enough enough?

There’s literally 10 soccer players I can think of who still perform at a top level after their young 30s.  Most of them, though, go on the club tour where they’re signed for a year or two to bring in some extra fans and to give their young players a boost.  I don’t mind teaching a new kid the basics, but I don’t want to be a sideshow. I don’t want to be someone to help draw a crowd.

Nina thinks I should keep playing.  Not that she doesn’t want me home. She does.  She wants that more than anything. She told me she’s tired of me being away for days or weeks at a time.  She wants to wake up next to me and kiss me good morning every day. She also thinks I would be stupid to retire from my dream before the dream is over.  

I’ll say it again.. When is enough enough?  

What isn’t enough is this place.  When we moved in, I had two kids and one on the way.  Now, I’ve got 5 kids and one on the way. We’ve renovated twice.  We’ve built more bedrooms. We did everything we could. I guess we could renovate again, but I don’t really want my house to become like a highway where it’s always under construction but never finished.  I do know one thing… I love my children with all my heart, but I don’t want anymore. I finally went to the doctor and had a vasectomy. That’s it. The Sergio Alvarez Baby Factor has gone out of business.

08-31-18_9-11-20 PM

I spoke to Uncle Juan.  He’s doing well. Andrés has found a woman to settle down with and moved out and while Uncle Juan loves the house, he wants to move.  I guess I could move everyone back to Brindleton Bay. That house has 7 bedrooms. It has a big yard and pool for all the kids to use.  They won’t be cramped up in this penthouse with a small yard outside.

The problem is the travel time from Brindleton to San Myshuno.  It’s a two-hour drive one way. I’m already gone from home enough now.  Do I really want to add 4 more hours a day to my time away from my wife and kids?

I think Nina wants out of San Myshuno, too.  She loves living in the fashion district. She adores having the best place in the whole city.  She just wants to have a place to relax. Motherhood has been tough on her. She’s still just as beautiful as the day I met her, but you can tell her patience is worn.  She’s ready for these kids to grow up and start doing more on their own.

Diego and Antonio are great with helping out.  They help with the toddlers and making sure they eat and are sleeping.  Those twins are amazing. I hope Ana, Alejandro, and Enrique are learning from their good example.

Nina is about to burst with the new kid.  I decided I didn’t want to know what the baby was going to be.  I have 4 boys. To be honest, I’d rather have one more boy, but I think Nina wants another girl.  She feels outnumbered. She tells me all the time that the amount of testosterone in the house is probably going to suffocate her one day.  What can I say, my father had one kid… a boy. My grandfather had 9 kids, all boys. It’s an Alvarez trait, I guess. We have boys. A long line of Alvarez men having Alvarez sons.  One day we’ll probably rule the world.

08-31-18_9-11-29 PM

Ah, man, I finally told Diego and Antonio that Becky had died.  It was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had to have with them.  I know they didn’t really know her, but you can tell when things affect kids.  Though, and I tell you that I couldn’t have ever expected them to say this, they told me that Nina was their real mom and Becky was only their biological mother.  Now, you tell me any kids that are smarter than them. Go ahead, I dare you.

But, they’re also sad about it.  They were hoping to finally get to know her and learn about her and their only living grandparents.  They wanted to visit her in New York and see all the sights. That’s just not possible now. I can take them to New York, but I think… I think it wouldn’t be the same for them.  Man, so many emotions all mixed together.

I had a dream last night.  It felt so damn real, but I had a dream last night.  I dreamt my dad was here. He was standing at the foot of the bed talking to me.  He didn’t say much, only that he was proud of me. I swear I could’ve touched him it felt so real.  He said that mama was so happy to have grandkids and wishes she could hug them. Man, I wish that had been real.  But it still made me feel like I’ve done the right things so far… even if they seemed like mistakes at the beginning.

Oh shit, Nina just hollered for me.  Looks like I’m about to be a father for the 6th time… kid’s on the way!

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Heh, Nina’s so happy… It’s a GIRL!  Clara Elena Alvarez Caliente.

I bought a VoidCritter game for the kids.  Ana is all over it.  Her brothers don’t seem to be into it as much as she is. She’s been busy training her whatever it is.  I’m glad she’s happy!

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And another birthday.  This time Alejandro has aged up.  Man, I’m kind of happy I have a new kid.  I’ve gotten so used to toddlers running around, I don’t know what I’d do without that!

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That’s all for tonight.  I’m so loving this new journal!   

1-12: Life Goes On

The news hit Sergio hard.  On Harvestfest morning, no less.  The call came in while he was sleeping.  Sergio’s only problem was he didn’t want to tell Diego and Antonio how she died.  He didn’t even want to tell them that she died.  Not yet.  Not until after the holiday.  There was no reason to ruin their holiday.

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“You know,” Sergio said with a sniffle, “I should be angry.  I should be angry as hell.  Who does that?  You don’t give up!  You fight the battle!  Yes, there’s no guarantee you can win, but you fight the fight!”

“Not everyone is like that,” Nina comforted.  “I mean, I don’t know her that well, but from what you tell me this sounds like how she is.  It’s the easy way out.  Now she’s got two babies that don’t have a mother because she was selfish.”

Sergio looked up, “What do you mean?  They have a mother.  They have you.  You’ve been a mother to them since day one, Nina.”  Then he sighed, “But I don’t know how to tell them.”

“Then don’t,” Nina said.  “At least not yet.  They know she’s their mother, but they don’t really know her.  Maybe it won’t be as bad for them.”

From his seat on the sofa he could hear Diego and Antonio laughing at something or other.  Sergio cleared his throat and dried his eyes.  Then he stood up and gave Nina a big hug.

“I’m so lucky to have a lady like you in my life,” Sergio said.

“I know you are,” Nina said.  “And you ain’t so bad yourself.”

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Then he changed and decided to deal with his grief by working out.  That’s how Sergio dealt with strong, negative emotions: he worked out.

08-31-18_10-41-52 AM

After an hour of working out, Sergio rummaged through the decoration bins, but there wasn’t much he could put up to give the place that Harvestfest feel.  So he put up a cornucopia, right in the middle of the dining room table and a giant rooster on the kitchen counter.

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“I have a nice cock,” Sergio said.

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Nina looked at it for a moment, “I’ve seen bigger, sugar.  But, it is very nice.”

08-31-18_9-16-04 AM

The sound of toddlers babbling and the pitter-patter of feet scurrying across the wooden floors meant that the whole house was finally awake.  Instead of dealing with a big dinner, the tradition in the Alvarez household was to have a grand breakfast.  This was in part because Nina often took the kids to her mother’s for the evening Harvest meal and because Sergio didn’t eat big after 3pm.  So, he waltzed into the kitchen and started to cook up a storm.

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The family togetherness lasted about as long as it took the kids to snag a serving with the twins sitting with Sergio and Nina at the dinner table..

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..and the toddlers setting up shop in the living room to watch kids shows.

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With breakfast over, Antonio started to clean up the dishes…

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And the toddlers decided it was play time…

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But it wouldn’t be the Alvarez household if there wasn’t a child and a birthday.  And such was this case with Ana, who finally aged up!

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“Daddy’s princess is a young lady now,” Sergio said with a smile.

08-31-18_10-05-29 AM

Later that evening….

“You know, Sergio, the kids are getting older.  Pretty soon Alejandro and Enrique will be older.  And we’ve got more time for each other these days.” Nina said.

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It didn’t take Sergio long to realize what kind of time she meant.

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“I should’ve castrated him when I had the chance,” Nina said the next morning as she looked at the results..

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1-11: The Talk

When Sergio returned from his trip to California, it didn’t take long for NIna to sit him down to talk about the recent visitor.  She didn’t know how Sergio would react to hearing the news that Becky had returned, but she knew that she had to tell him. It wasn’t that Nina was happy that Becky showed up, but under the circumstances, she felt it was best to do as Becky had asked.  Besides, if Sergio had a not-so-angry response, maybe he could find that closure that never happened with her.

08-29-18_8-23-09 PM

“Honey, I have to tell you that we had a visitor the other day.” Nina said.

“Oh?  Who? Did Don Lothario stop by to try to workout with me again?” Sergio asked.

“No.  Now, before I tell ya who came over, I need you to stay calm.  I’m just telling you, I’m not the person,” Nina said.

08-29-18_8-22-49 PM

“Who the hell showed up?” Sergio asked cautiously.

“Becky,” Nina said.  “Just before you respond, she didn’t come to see the boys.  She came to tell you that, well, she’s not doing too good.”

“Probably needs money,” Sergio said calmly.  “She was never good with it. But, this is the wrong tree and she needs to bark somewhere else.”

“Sergio,” Nina said, “she wants to tell you herself, but I can tell you it ain’t about money.  I don’t like the fact she showed up out of the blue anymore than you do, but I think you should hear her out.”

Still remaining outwardly calm, Sergio nodded, “Okay.  Bring her over. I think we can have a civilized conversation about whatever she wants help with.  But she’s not seeing those boys.”

“That’s fine,” Nina said.  

When Becky arrived, Nina showed her into Sergio’s workout room.  The walls were padded so that the noise from his weight machine wouldn’t carry on around the first floor.  It was also kind of an homage to Sergio’s career with his trophies displayed and a few posters he was feature on.  It was decorated sparsely because he didn’t want a lot of distractions in there. No televisions or radios. There were no pictures or potted plants.  Just the machines, the Wall of Sergio, and paint.

Of course, once Sergio entered…

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“You’ve got a lot of balls to show up here,” Sergio blasted at Becky.  “All these fucking years and you couldn’t even call you children to wish them a happy birthday or fucking send them a Christmas card?  Some goddamn mother you are!”

“What the everloving fuck is your problem, Sergio?”  Becky said. “You don’t know everything that I went through and you don’t know why I did what I did.  Hell, you don’t even care because it’ll ruin this little narrative you’ve got going on in your head where this bitch of a girlfriend abandoned two kids on your front porch!”

08-29-18_7-30-44 PM

“Oh fuck that shit. You were only thinking about yourself.  The only person you’ve ever fucking cared about is you. What you want, when you want it, damn the consequences.  Well, do you think I was ready to be a dad? Do you think I even wanted to be a dad at that point? No, Becky, no.  I didn’t want kids right then. But you know what I did? I fucking did what I had to do to keep those kids happy and healthy.  And you know what? I fucking hate you for the fact you just left like a coward. You could’ve talked to me about it, but no… you hadto do the typical Becky thing and run away!”

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“You’re an asshole, Sergio.  You’ve always been an asshole and you’ll always be an asshole.  I don’t get it at all! How does everyone think you’re so fucking amazing when, deep down, you’re just an angry little man who has nothing better to do than yell at people?  Do you talk to Nina like this? The kids?”

08-29-18_7-29-33 PM

“Are you kidding me right now?  That’s it. This discussion is over.  GET OUT!” Sergio said.

08-29-18_7-29-11 PM“Not until I tell you what I came to say,” Becky said.

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“You got one minute to talk before I carry your skinny ass to that fucking elevator,” Sergio said.

“I’m drying, you fucking prick.  I’ve got cancer.” Becky said.

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Sergio’s entire demeanor changed.  All the anger melted in an instant.  He felt embarrassed and stupid. She was, after all, the mother of his twins.  It was something he never expected to hear. For years he always figured if they met again there would be this explosive argument, but he never once thought that this kind of news would come.

They were never the kind of couple in high school who were perfect.  They were always fighting. It was something that defined their relationship.  They were that couple. The ones who seemed to only have this physical thing between them and when they tried to do anything else, the found out they were not compatible at all.  They had broken up and gotten back together so many times that their friends at school gave up trying to give advice and just told them both to stay away from each other. And, as senior year went along, they did just that.  They hadn’t spoken until that day that she showed up at Sergio’s front door. And once more, it became apparent that there was only a physical link between them and there was nothing more.

The memories of high school flashed through Sergio’s mind in that moment.  The good times, few as they were. Walks in the park, kisses and hugs, that moment he lost his virginity to her.  And all the guys she dated in high school her senior year after they finally drifted apart. Maybe there was some part of him that always wondered how things would’ve turned out if they could have figured out how to make it work, but now that was only a memory from the past.  Then he snapped back into the current reality.

“Cancer?” Sergio said trying to calm down.

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“Yes, Sergio.  Fucking cancer.  Lung cancer, to be exact.  I never smoked a day in my life, but fucking hell.  Everything happens to me.”

For perhaps one of the first times in their lives, the two started to actually talk about something, sad though it was.  Becky explained how the cancer was spreading quickly and there wasn’t much the doctors could do. There were treatments, but there were no guarantees.  All she wanted to do was tell Sergio and then let him do with that information what he felt was right.

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And, for his part, he did just that.  He called Diego and Antonio into the dining room and sat them down at the table.  They boys had no idea why they were being summoned, but they responded quickly and sat down.  Sergio took a moment to tell them about Becky. It wasn’t that they didn’t know Nina wasn’t their birth mother, it was that Sergio didn’t think it was a good idea to get too involved into why their birth mother was never around.  He wanted to spare them from that entire story. They were far too young to know all those details. Now, they were aware of just who their mother was. To their credit, they didn’t seem to be upset or confused. They just listened as he told them, in simple, kid-relatable terms, why he and their mother didn’t work.  

He never told them about being left on the porch, though.  That was something he promised himself he’d never ever tell Diego and Antonio.  What kid would ever want to know that? That kind of thing could really fuck up a kid.  At least that’s how Sergio felt about it.

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Becky met the boys and the boys seemed to take to her.  There was no mention of her cancer or any of the past. There was only the two boys meeting their mother for the first time.  Becky even finally said which twin was born first: Diego. The whole time this was going on, Nina stood behind the feature wall that separated the kitchen and dining room from the living room.    When she heard the kids joking with Becky, she stepped out from behind the wall and watched.

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When the kids went to bed, Sergio took Becky into the living room and apologized for being an ass.

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“Sergio,” Becky said, “Don’t.  Don’t apologize. I guess I deserved it.  I just felt you should know. But I also really love you for letting me see the boys.  They’re so cute. We did good work together.”

“Yeah, that one time we actually did something right, even if the situation around it was fucked up.” Sergio said.  

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“And you and Nina have those cute toddlers running around.  You’ve got a nice family, Sergio. I hope that you’re happy.”

“I am.  I’m just sorry this happened to you.  But, I want you to know if you need help with medical bills or therapy or anything, you only have to ask.”

“Sergio, I didn’t come here for money.  I have my own. I have good insurance from work.  But I appreciate you offering. And if I need help, I’ll let you know.  Anyway, I should probably get going now. I have an early morning flight to New York.”

“Do you wanna crash here?  I can offer you a couch and I’ll get you there.  You can have breakfast with the whole family.” Sergio said.

“Thanks, but I should probably go back to the hotel.” Becky said.

Sergio nodded.  Probably best she went back to the hotel anyway.  Nina wouldn’t be too pleased if she spent the night.  “Maybe, if you’re up to it, when the boys have some time off from school I can bring them over to New York to spend some time with you?”

“I’d like that.  Let me know when and if I’m feeling up to it, by all means.” Becky said.  Then they hugged.

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Then she walked through the penthouse door.  Sergio closed the door behind her. After pressing the button for the elevator, she looked back at the apartment.  She could heard the boys laughing as Sergio started to play with them. She burned that sound into her mind. She knew that, deep down, she’d never see them again.

08-29-18_8-09-22 PM

She never made her flight to New York.  When the hotel housekeeping staff arrived to clean the room, she was on the bed, an empty bottle of pills beside her bed and a note by the telephone.

1-10: The Return

*AUTHOR’S NOTE: I was having issues with The Sims 4 and wasn’t able to get the screenshots for this.  Once my issues resolve, I will update with the pictures*

The family gathered around the television watching the game.  With the team away at Los Angeles, they couldn’t all go. Not that they didn’t want to, but having three toddlers and two children who needed to be in school, it wasn’t something that could be done easily.  Nina never missed a game and, as Diego and Antonio aged, neither did they. Ana, Alejandro, and Enrique, however, would just watch to see their daddy, but didn’t always care about the game itself.

“Alright, kids, Daddy’s gonna take a penalty kick,” Nina said.

“What’s a penalty kick?” Asked Ana.

“Well, when a guy on the other team does something against the rules inside those white lines, Daddy’s team gets to take a special kick on the goal.” Nina said.

“What did the other guy do,” Ana asked.

“Well, he tripped that guy on Daddy’s team,” Nina said.

“That’s not fair,” Ana said.

“That’s why Daddy’s team gets a free shot,” Nina said.

“Alvarez, waits for the signal.  The whistle blows, he steps up and…. GOAL!  The Spanish Archer strikes again!” the presenter said.

“Look at that strike on goal.  There was no doubt in Sergio Alvarez’s mind where he was going to put that shot.  The keeper just guessed wrong,” the co-presenter said.

While the presenters continued to dissect the penalty kick, Nina and the the kids cheered for Sergio’s goal.  

“Did Daddy’s team win?” asked Ana.

“Not yet, but they’re winning, the game still has 15 more minutes,” Nina said.

It was at that moment that Nina’s cell phone rang.  She reached into her pocket and looked at the screen.  She didn’t recognize the number, but figured that it was probably the repairman for the building coming to fix the broken dishwasher.

“Hello?” Nina said.

There was silence on the other end for a moment.

“Are ya there?  Hello?” Nina said.

“H…hi,” the female voice said on the other end in an uncertain tone.  “Is.. this Nina Alvarez?”

“Depends on who’s callin, hun,” Nina said.  “I ain’t got not credit cards to transfer, I’m happy with the television and cell phone, and I really don’t need any mortgage offers, so if you’re selllin’ something, then goodbye.”

“I’m Becky Radnor,” the female voice said.

Nina got up and walked into the bathroom, “How’d you get this number?”

“Well, I… uh…” Becky said before Nina cut her off.

“Doesn’t matter.  You gotta lotta nerve calling this house after what you done to those boys,” Nina said angrily.

“I….I’m…”

“So what the hell you want?” Nina said.

Becky didn’t respond as she waiting to see if Nina had anything else to say.  When she figured the coast was clear, she started, “I was in town and I was…. Uh… wondering if maybe I could see the boys.”

“No,” Nina said.  “You don’t get to drop them off on a front porch with a goodbye note and then come back and waltz into their lives.  And, Sergio would prolly explode if he knew you called here. You best keep away from this family and those boys.”

“I’m their mother…” Becky said.

“Mother?  You’re a mother alright.  You ain’t nothing to those boys,” Nina said.

“Maybe they should be the judge of that,” Becky said.

Nina cleared her throat, “Let me tell you this in plain English.  You ain’t comin’ anywhere near those boys, you hear me? IF you come around here, you’re gonna have to deal with me and I’m one feisty bitch, so you better keep your distance if you know what’s good for ya.”  With that Nina ended the call and returned to the living room.

“Who was that,” Diego asked.

“Just someone tryin’ to cause trouble, Diego.  Never you mind about it,” Nina said.

The next day as Nina was busy feeding the toddlers and Diego and Antonio were getting ready for school, a knock came at the door.  She walked over and opened it. Standing before her was none other than Becky Radnor.

“Nina?” Becky asked.

Nina has no idea who she was looking at, but the voice gave it away, “You must be Becky.  You must also be dumb as a brick because I told you to stay away from this house boys.”

“Excuse me, I am not here for them.  I came to talk to Sergio.” Becky said.

“He’s in Los Angeles.  He won’t be back for a few days.  Tell me what you wanna tell him and, if you’re lucky, I’ll tell him.” Nina said.  

Becky nervously stood in the little foyer between the elevator and the penthouse’s front door.  Then she sighed and looked back at Nina. “Look, I’d rather tell him myself, but, tell him… tell him I’m dying.  I have cancer. And tell him….tell him I’m sorry for everything.” Becky then turned quickly to run out the door, but elevator’s aren’t good for such dramatic exits.

Nina, for her part, melted from angry to neutral as Becky turned.  “Cancer?” Nina nodded her head a few times. “How long you gonna be in town?”

“A week, tops,” Becky said.

“I guess when Sergio gets back from LA, I’ll tell him.  If he wants to see you, he will. If he wants you to see the boys, he will.  I can’t guarantee it, though. To this day we don’t talk about it cause he gets so upset by it all.  I am sorry to hear about your health, though. Don’t no one deserve that.” Nina said.

“Thank you,” Becky said as the elevator door opened, “you can call me at that number I called from.”

1-09: A Change In Tone

I’ve spent the last several chapters telling you all about my life and the little bit of this and that which happened around it.  See, the fact is that my life had always been pretty simple. Yeah, I got sidetracked and caused problems here and there, but it’s been mostly simple.  I complicated it with Becky, but somehow things work out and if I hadn’t gotten Becky pregnant, I would’ve never met Nina or had Ana, Alejandro (who we call Alejo for short) or Enrique (Kiko for short).  Yeah, the last child was also a boy.  4 boys, 1 girl.

Diego and Antonio are going to school.  They started this year. Ana will be behind them next year.  Alejo in two years, and Enrique in a few more years. Nina tells me she wants to get a job again once the kids go back to school.  She doesn’t need to.

At 30 years of age, I’ve been playing professional sports now for the last 8 years of my life.  I’ve become the top striker for San Myshuno FC, I’ve helped them win the league three times in the last 8 years, and I’ve gotten paid for it.  My children and my wife will never have to want for anything. Nina will never have to work again if she doesn’t want to. My kids will all go to college.  And there’s substantial investments that’ve been made with some of the money, so they should all be good for their lives.

At 30, you realize you’ve more years behind you as a player than you do in front of you.  The great ones can last into their late 30s. Once in a while one will make it past 40, but between 32 and 35, you stop becoming a featured player.   Hell, I’m lucky to still be playing at 30. The average career in pro sports is about 3-4 years.

Of course, you start noticing things, too.  I was always the first name on the team sheet.  Games against big clubs, against clubs we should have no problem beating… I was always on the list.  Now, I noticed I’m being rotated out of the games that we should either win easily or have no bearing on our quest for greatness.  I noticed that it takes me a little longer to recover from gamedays. I worry that soon I’ll be off my game, and that’s when the young kid will come in.  That’s when the next one gets his shot to take your place. That’s when you start thinking about finding a new club to take you on for a few years to keep you playing and doing the thing you’ve been doing since you were 10.  

I keep pushing myself and training myself.  I keep learning the newest advances in training to keep myself in top form.  You have to do that to keep going. The hard work doesn’t stop because you’ve made a good career out of it.  To be the best, you must train like the best. You must work even harder than the rest. You must always remember that someone is behind you looking over your shoulder ready to take your place and leave you behind.  Age is just a number, but in my line of work, it’s a huge and foreboding number.

Still, in the grand scheme, I am a young man.  I will be able to spend the time with my kids and my wife.  We will take more family vacations. We will enjoy our lives once my career is over.  I’m not the only one who’s had to work hard at this. My parents did when I was young working their fingers to the bones when I needed new kit and money to go to the academy or to go to an away game. My wife sacrifices every day because of my job.  She gave up her life to raise our children. My children sacrifice because they can’t see their daddy like all the other kids can. I don’t keep banker’s hours. I can be gone for days and even weeks at a time. I hope they always know this was done for them as well as for me.  

So, now you’re all caught up with my life.  I’m going to stop talking now. I can’t tell you anymore.  I don’t know the future, only the past. I just hope the Author of my life is as good at telling you about my life as I am.

I am the American dream.  I am the child of immigrants from Spain who came to the United States for a better life for themselves.  My mother was pregnant with me when they left Madrid and moved here, but I was born in America.  I am a first-generation Spanish-American.  I have worked my ass off to build the kind of life few in Spain or America could ever hope for.  I am the husband to an amazing wife and the father of 5 amazing kids.  They are my legacy.  I don’t know what the next chapters of my life will bring, but as they are written, I’m certain you’ll know.

Don’t worry, I’m sure the Author of my life will allow me to butt in from time to time to talk.  At least I hope so.

Peace and Love!

1-08: The Best Laid Plans

Settling into the new place, my career was taking off.  San Myshuno FC was doing quite well led by none other than yours truly.

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Having gotten my head back into the game, I was becoming the star player I knew I could.  Brindleton Bay Llamacorns was a great team, don’t get me wrong, but there was never the kind of opportunity offered there that there is in San Myshuno.  But my career wasn’t the most important thing in my life.

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They were.  Ana had aged up into a fine, charming toddler and became my little girl faster than I ever thought possible.

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I already see myself being that dad who is waiting outside for her first boyfriends with a bottle of whiskey at my side and a shotgun on my lap making sure he knows full well to keep his hands off her.  Boys are going to love her red hair.

anatree

Nina was ready to burst with the next kid, but this little one wasn’t ready to come out just yet.  I fear it’ll be 3 when it’s finally ready to come into the world.

Diego, Antonio, and Ana were enjoying their childhood.

 

I love the fact they’re playing with the toys I bought them.  I don’t care that my son plays with dolls at the tree house.

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I don’t care what he does as long as he’s happy.  I know what being happy can do to a person.  I have that happiness in my life because I know what I am: a husband to a wonderful woman, a star on the team, and, most of all, father to these three amazing kids.  They are my life’s meaning.

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On my days off, I loved sitting down in Diego and Antonio’s room and bringing the family together for story time.

The boys and Ana absolutely loved it.  Oh man, they totally just chatter away with their own little stories once I’m done.  Man, when I hear them laugh I just… melt.

Then the next little one was ready to come into the world.

As always, Nina was a trooper.

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And I was my calm, supportive self.

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Now, it gives me amazing pleasure to introduce you all to my newest child: Alejandro Miguel Alvarez Caliente!  It’s another boy!

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Nina sat me down shortly after Alejandro was born.

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“I don’t want to spend my whole adult life pregnant, Sergio.  I love you and I love being a mother, but, golldang it, I’m not just a baby machine.”

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“I need to be able to relax once in a while, do some things.  I got three toddlers runnin’ around here and now there’s Alejo always cryin’.  We need to do something about your sniper-like aim, sugar.”

“Nina, I get it.  You want to enjoy life while we’re still young.  I understand.  I can go to the doctor’s office and schedule an appointment for a vasectomy or I can use condoms.”  I didn’t want to do either.  Still, it was her body carrying and popping out these kids, I guess she should have say over whether or not she has any more.

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“Now don’t get your panties all in a wad, Sergio.  No need to be replacing live ammo with blanks.  It isn’t that I don’t want more kids, but I just want there to be a break.  I’d swear you were just tryin’ to keep me barefoot and pregnant.”

“No, not at all.  There’s just something about seeing you carrying my children that gets me so excited.  And I guess, maybe, I never stopped to consider that you might want–or need–time to relax and breath.  So, I’m willing to do what you want.  I love you and I always will.  Whatever you want, I will do.”

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“To the moon and back, Nina.  Always and forever.”

So I went down to the corner store and got some condoms.  Then we put them to the test.

Nina wasn’t pregnant for the first time in a while, so we finally got back to a normal–or as close as you can get–life in the City.

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Nina started playing video games after the kids went down for their afternoon naps…

…I went back to training more at home…

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…and Nina even took some time for wellness training to keep her hot-headed temper to a simmer..

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..and when Ana broke her doll house out of anger… Nina put it right back together…

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Then……

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…one of the prisoners escaped their jail cell and made a new home in the promised land.

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“Sergio,” she said excited as she came back from the bathroom, “I don’t know how the fuck you did that, but even with the condom, I’m knocked up again.”

“Jesus Christ!  I was so careful!” I said.

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“Yeah, well, I’m gonna stop calling you Sergio and start calling you Bullseye because you sure know how to hit the target.”

“Look,” I said excited to hear I was gonna have another kid, but fearful Nina would hate me for it, “if you want to, you know, go to the doctor and not have this kid I’ll be there for you.”

“Did you just fall out of a turnip truck and hit your head?  I’m not like that, Sergio.  Just, after this, you’re getting castrated.”

1-07: Bright Lights, Big Family

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“Sergio,” Uncle Juan said, “I wanted to ask you what you were doing with your house.”

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I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it.  I didn’t actually want to sell it.  I didn’t want to part with it at all.  This was the dream, but the best laid plans, right?  “Well, I guess I’m gonna have to sell it.”

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“Then what about later?  You can’t play soccer forever.  Will you stay in San Myshuno?”

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“I don’t know.  I don’t know what later will bring.  Will I still be with San Myshuno?  Will I be on another team?  I really, truly don’t know these things.  I do know I want to come back to Brindleton Bay.  Hopefully before the boys get too old for me to enjoy it with them.”

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“I have a suggestion, if you will.  Why not let me take over the house.  I will pay you rent every month and then Andrés and I will stay here.  With your career, you never know when you’re going to have to move again, but you probably won’t play here again.  So, you know the house is good and when you are ready to move back, there’s no looking for a house or anything.”

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After giving it come thought, I figured that was the best idea.  In a worst-case scenario, I could always move back here.  And it keeps the house in the family.  “Well, if you’re sure you want the house, then I can handle that.”

 

“Good,” he said.  The deal was done and we hugged it out.

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Having to report to San Myshuno came faster than expected, so I spent the last night in the house just hangin’ out with the boys.  You know, I didn’t think I wanted to be a father when I found out Becky was pregnant, but I can’t imagine life without them.

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And Nina has been really, really helpful with keeping them in line while I’m at work.

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But the time came to finally move to San Myshuno.  And when my agent said he had a deal on a place, he wasn’t lying.  1 Torendi.  Oh. My. God.  It’s amazing.

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That’s it at the top of the building.  Sure has a nice view of San Myshuno.  And man, this city is huge.

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But, no sooner did we get to San Myshuno….

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…and Nina went into labor….

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…and I was probably as helpful as I could have been….

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…and I’d like to introduce you to my new little baby…

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..Ana Maria Alvarez Caliente.

I have a little girl!  I have no idea how the hell to raise a girl.  I only know guy things.  But, Nina told me not to worry.  Who knows, maybe one day she’ll be President herself or an astronaut or a captain of industry.  Who knows, right?

But, if you thought three kids was enough….

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… there’s going to be a fourth Alvarez kid.  It happened quickly, too!  Nina says it’s because we like to fuck and I’m Catholic.  I have no idea what she means.  But, we’re going to have to make more room.

 

Generation 1 Interlude: The Jeffersons

The Jefferson’s Theme Song

Well we’re movin’ on up

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To the East Side

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To a deluxe apartment in the sky

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Movin’ on up

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To the East Side

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We finally got a piece of the pie

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Fish don’t fry in the kitchen

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Beans don’t burn on the grill

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Took a whole lotta tryin’

treadmill

Just to get up that hill

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Now we’re up in the big leagues

sergg

Gettin’ our turn at bats

zk

As long as we live

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It’s you and me baby

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Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that

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Well we’re moving on up

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to the East Side

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To a deluxe apartment in the sky

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Movin’ on up 

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To the East side

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We finally gotta piece of the pie!

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1-06: A Big, Happy Family

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“Uncle Juan!” I said as I hugged my uncle.   “Andrés?! Holy shit, you’re all grown up now!”  I said as I greeted my cousin.

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“And I look good, too,” He said.

 

Man, I haven’t seen my uncle and Andrés since the funeral.  And back then Andres was barely in high school. I feel old all of a sudden.  Like, where’s the time going?

 

“So, Mr. Football Man,” my uncle said to me, “I saw where you signed with San Myshuno?”

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“Yeah, I’ve got to report there in two weeks,” I said thinking about everything I still had left to do.

 

“It’s very good you’re doing so well, Sergio.  Your father and mother would be so proud of you.” he said.

 

“So,” Andrés said, “we never knew you were seeing anyone, now you’ve got two kids and you’re getting married?”

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“Everything kind of happens quickly around here,” I said.  

 

“Maybe I’ll find a nice young lady looking for love around here.  Gotta have a date for the wedding, right?” Andrés said with a smile.

 

“He thinks he’s Romeo,” Uncle Juan said.  “He’s barely got hair on his face and he’s already a cassanova.  He’s never even had a girlfriend.”

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“What about Inez?” Andres said.

 

“That wasn’t dating,” my uncle said.  “That was what we called in my day ‘fooling around.’  You boys are so much alike, Sergio. Always fooling around, never dating.  But, you’re getting married? To this Nina Caliente?”

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“Yeah, Uncle Juan” I said with a smile, “she’s at work right now, but when she gets home you’ll meet her.  Here, let me show you to your rooms.”

After showing them to their room, I went to training in San Myshuno.  It was so late once I got home, but the boys… they wanted their daddy and, to tell you the truth, there isn’t anything more that I want to see than them at the end of the day.  I love Nina, but my boys….. I can’t explain it, but it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

And they were toddlers now…. Diego, my little angel….

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…and Antonio, the silly one…

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It was pretty late and I decided to put them to bed with a book.  Tomorrow was the wedding and, well, it was gonna be a big, big day for everyone.  They need their sleep.

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The Wedding Day arrived and we set up at the ancient ruins.  We thought that was probably a great place.  Of course, I had to get everything brought in so we could actually get married there.

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Still, it was worth it.  Everything was perfect.  The weather was warm and sunny and everyone showed up.  Now all that was needed was Nina…

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She looked amazing.  I tried to talk her out of her idea of a black dress, but she kept telling me that I, of all people, should know she’s not kidding anyone wearing white.  Of course, it looked great on her.  Diego and Antonio decided they wanted to be up front with daddy, though Antonio saw some birds and was more captivated by them.

The wedding itself was pretty simple.  We didn’t want some big, fancy affair.  Just some friends and family and us, exchanging vows.

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… and exchanging rings…

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..and finally, making it official…

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Though, after the official kiss, I decided to show Nina a bit more of how I felt…

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Then we cut the cake…

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…and learned Antonio doesn’t care about cake, but Diego…..

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…I’ve never seen his eyes so wide open before!  Haha, qué lindo eres, mijo.”

Uncle Juan took me aside..

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“Sergio, I want you to know that I am very happy for you and I wish you the same kind of love your parents had and that I had with my Teresa.  You looked so much like your father standing up there.  It reminded me of when he and Maria got married.  Anyway, I am very proud of you.” he said.

“Thanks, Uncle Juan,” I said feeling proud, “I only wish Mama and Papa could have been here to see this.”

“I believe they are in heaven smiling down on you and your family,” Juan said nodding.

Then he simply walked away acting like he was fighting allergies, but he wasn’t an actor.  Anyway,  I went to go find Katrina, but I got sidetracked by Andrés.

“Congratulations, cuz!” he said giving me a big hug.  I never did find Katrina.  Or Don.  Even Dina seemed to be missing right after the food was served….. strange.

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Nina and I decided there wasn’t going to be a honeymoon just yet.  We were going to wait until after we all got to San Myshuno and settled down.  That and I think Nina was a bit overwhelmed with all of the planning and speed at which things took place.

But there was one thing she was entirely ready for…

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…and she was very ready for it…

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…. and then…

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.. it looks like we’re about to hear the pitter-patter of little Alvarez feet again….

1-05: One Thing Before I Go

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“So, you’re leavin’ us,” Nina said.

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“I don’t want to leave, but I have to,” I said.

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“Well, I don’t blame ya, sugar,” Nina said.  “Sounds like a great thing for ya.”

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“Just hope I’m making the right decision for the boys.  I don’t want to fail them.”

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Nina walked over and hugged me, “Sergio, do you remember what I told ya at the bar?  That you’re gonna be enough for them boys and they’re gonna love you and you’ll be their whole word?  Do you remember that?”

 

“I do,” I said worried that I was still making a bad decision.

 

“They’re not gonna care if you raise them in a house or an apartment or a barn, they’re just gonna be happy you’re around.  Plus, I mean, you’re in the big leagues now, sugar. Once them other teams see you out there, who knows? You might be the next Cristiano Messi!”

 

I chuckled slightly, “Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.  And, I’m not that good.”

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“Well, I ain’t into sports, sugar.  But you’ll be the next whoever it is.  And you mark my words. We’re gonna hear about ya on TV and we’re gonna say, ‘we know that guy!’”

 

I chuckled again.  She had a habit of doing that to me.  I mean, since she started coming over to help with the boys, we’ve kind of had a thing.  And I didn’t want to give that up. In fact….

 

“This isn’t the best time.  I don’t know if there ever is a good time to ask this question, but…..”

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“Nina Caliente, will you marry me?”

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