Life, As Is - Teaser
Life, As Is
Here's my story: I go to bed with my husband Greg in late 2013 in Brooklyn and the next morning I wake up as my twenty-six year old self in 1997! I'm 3,000 miles away from home in California, living with my crazy guitarist ex-boyfriend. I reconnect and hook up with Jim, an old flame that I lost touch with in my teens. Then, as soon as I manage to get my life on track and help my younger brother Caelum get back on his feet, I fall asleep while watching T.V. and wake up in 2015! I'm back in New York but in a strange apartment with Greg living across the hall and married to somebody else. Oh, and apparently, I'm married to Jim!
How did this happen, again?
I met Jim when I was eighteen years old and living with my family in Orange County, California. I had heard about Jim through mutual friends from my church and most of what I heard wasn't all that great. He and his mother were members of the church we attended but their attendance was very sporadic (especially Jim) so of course this gave the gossips something to talk about. His father wasn't a member and wanted nothing to do with the church which somehow led to talk about their marriage being a rocky one. Since Jim looked like a combination of Patrick Swayze and Kurt Russell at their peak, he got a lot of attention from women of all ages. Bear in mind, Dirty Dancing had come out not long before all of this and everyone was still in love with Patrick Swayze. Need I say more? The talk surrounding Jim wasn't anything out of the ordinary for your average nineteen-year old male possessing the looks of a God; he had his share of girlfriends. But when you belong to a church where dating is strictly forbidden unless you intend to marry that person, flirting around and dating was a sin of which you should have no part! Casual dating was completely forbidden.
When I first met him he was sitting in the row in front of me, towards the left. I noticed him looking over at me a few times but thought nothing of it. I've always been one of those girls who constantly underestimated herself. Regardless of being told that I'm very pretty, I never thought that about myself. In fact, when I was younger I always assumed people stared at me because they thought I was ugly. It didn't occur to me that Jim kept glancing in my direction because he was attracted to me. After the church service he came up to me and asked if I lived near some mutual friends of ours.
"No, why?" was my less-than-pleasant response.
"Well, I've seen you driving around that area so...I...thought you might live around there."
"Oh, my cousin Marie lives on the next street over."
He nodded as if to say "ok" but said nothing else.
Before things got anymore awkward than they already were I asked, "So do you live around there? What made you ask me that?"
"No." he said. Before I could say “ok, I gotta go” he added, "I work with Craig ____ and I've seen you drive by a few times." Craig was a building contractor who ran his business out of his home. Jim had just started working for him while going to Saddleback College. I didn't make a habit of visiting my cousin on a regular basis so I was a little intrigued that he noticed me the few times I drove around that area.
A week later, out of the blue, Craig's wife Roseanne invited me to their house for Sunday dinner. I thought it a little odd as I didn't know them very well and had never been to their house before, but I accepted. When I arrived to their home I noticed Jim had been invited as well; that was when it occurred to me why the rest of my family hadn't been included in the invitation. Craig and Roseanne seemed to think that Jim and I would be a good match but as he and his family were not held in high regard by the rest of the church, including my family, they knew my parents would most likely get in the way of their matchmaking. I know what you're thinking: I was eighteen, an adult who was perfectly capable of making her own decisions. Things didn't work that way in my family, though.
Since my car was in the shop - as it usually was - I had to bribe Caleum to drop me off before he drove out to wherever it was he was going to afterward. Several other people were in attendance at the dinner so I made a point of talking with them while sneaking furtive glances at Jim. I'll be a geek and admit that I got butterflies in my stomach when I noticed that he was doing the same.
Needless to say, when it was time to leave, Roseanne suggested that Jim drive me home seeing that I didn't have my car with me. While driving, he turned on the radio and we discovered we had the same taste in music, which he was hesitant to tell my about. That year Motley Crüe came out with their Dr. Feelgood album and - as much as it kills me to admit this - we were both fans. Jim's initial reluctance to tell me had nothing to do with his taste but had everything to do with our church and its views on that type of music. Artists such as Motley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, etc. were thought by most religious groups to be possessed and ours was no exception. As kids, my brother and I would have our friends from school make cassette copies of those albums that we weren’t allowed to own and hide them in cases marked Prince, Madonna or other artists that weren’t considered evil. For some reason, a song about a girl named Nikki masturbating with a magazine was less offensive than Black Sabbath singing about Iron Man. Jim and I immediately bonded over our love of "the forbidden" heavy metal music and blasted Kickstart My Heart during the drive. I threw him for a loop when I started head banging. (Don’t judge. We were teens during the 1980’s) Not only was I attracted to him but I was beginning to feel a friendship forming between us.
We pulled into my apartment complex and, of course, the “will he kiss me” tension popped up. My girlfriend Susan and I were flying out to New York the next day and I had yet to pack. (In my defense, I bought the nonrefundable tickets to New York before my car ended up in the shop!) During those awkward couple of minutes before I got out of the car we participated in a mundane discussion of how I procrastinate with tasks such as packing.
”Well, have a good trip and...and be safe." He said and then, to my dismay, held out his hand for me to shake.
“Thanks, I will. Oh and thanks for the ride home." I shook his hand and couldn't have felt like more of a lame ass than I did at that moment.
Instead of packing for my flight the next morning I procrastinated some more by turning on the radio and mulling over the events of the night - especially the car ride home. A handshake? Really? What was I supposed to make of that? Maybe I read him wrong at dinner. Maybe he was only looking over at me because he noticed I was looking at him and it weirded him out. I guess I had fallen asleep because when I reached over to answer my ringing bedroom phone I looked at the clock and discovered that two hours had gone by since I got home. I made sure the grogginess was gone from my voice before answering.
"Are you packed yet?" Jim asked.
"Nope! I accidentally crashed out when I got home." I laughed.
"You were asleep? Good thing I called and woke you up. You're worse than me!"
"I doubt that! So," I sat up and tried to think of what I should say next and the best I could come up with was, "what's up?" After about five minutes of mindless chatter, he finally came out with it.
"I felt so stupid shaking your hand!" he said and I couldn't help but laugh.
"I was wondering about that." I said.
"I'm just going to put it out there; I wanted to kiss you but I didn't know if you were ok with that. I'm not good at reading this stuff."
Learning that someone as attractive as Jim was nervous about the thought of kissing me was surreal. I was completely thrown that someone like him would be interested in me!
"Hmm...I think I would have been ok with that." I replied teasingly.
We continued to talk for a little while and then he said to me, "I remember meeting you last year."
"We met last year?"
"You were going out with David and he brought you in to Sport Chalet to buy ski clothes."
I had completely forgotten about that. My then-boyfriend David was taking me on my first ski trip, which I ended up hating. Jim was working there at the time and was able to get us a discount which worked out well since I never wore the ski clothes again.
"That's right! That was the worst the trip I ever took. I'll take water skiing over snow skiing any day."
"I couldn't believe it when he brought you in to the store. Why did you go out with him?"
"I liked him!"
"When he came to the store the first time he told me about how a bunch of you were going up to Big Bear and he talked about how his girlfriend was going for the first time. He made sure to say 'girlfriend' loud enough to make sure everyone heard that he had one. I wasn't expecting someone like you, though."
"What does that mean?" I laughed nervously.
"Well, first off, I was expecting someone older." David was older than me; he was twenty-five and I was seventeen when we dated. Of course my parents knew nothing about our relationship. Jim continued, "And he's not the best looking guy. I thought you could do a lot better than him."
He wasn't wrong about David not being the best looking guy but I had just moved out from New York and missed everyone I had grown up with and I was fascinated about getting attention from an older man. The relationship barely lasted six months.
Our phone call lasted until 2:00 AM. Jim had his radio on also and Alice Cooper’s Poison came on. Making fun of himself for the whole handshaking incident he changed the lyrics from “I wanna kiss you but I want it too much” to “I wanna kiss you but I’ll shake your hand instead.” I loved the fact that he was able to laugh himself and I suddenly wished that I was no longer flying back East the next day. This was back in the days before texting, email and FaceTime so I had no choice but to wait until I flew back home to see or talk to him unless I wanted to pay a fortune on long distance calls. I finally finished packing ten minutes before leaving for the airport.
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