Sunday, July 3, 2016

Chapter 24 (7/3/16)

A nice long post to thank you all for being so patient with my crazy life and posting "schedule".  Happy 4th to my American readers!
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It was April now, so the weather was starting to warm up from unimaginably cold to tolerably cold.  I was able to get back to and keep trucking along with my “running”, which was progressing very slowly.  Regardless, the slightly warmer weather and the exercise worked well together to lift my mood and I found myself becoming more and more cheerful as we got closer to spring in northern Minnesota. 
Rachael and I attended our free dance class together, and I loved it so much that I signed up for the next round of beginning jazz dance for adults, which started in a couple weeks.  Rachael was less impressed with it.  “I don’t think I’m going to walk right for a week,” she complained, grimacing as she carefully lowered herself onto the passenger seat of my car.
I chuckled as I got in, definitely feeling it but not quite as miserable as Rachael.  “I thought it was awesome,” I countered, still on an endorphin high. 
“I’m really glad you liked it,” Rachael said sincerely.  “Are you going to be able to go by yourself when your classes start?”
“Yeah,” I replied, nodding.  “There were way more people that went there alone than I thought.  Maybe I’ll even make some new friends!”
My excitement carried over to that weekend when Rachael and I went to our intro to climbing class at the climbing gym.  I had fun, but it wasn’t something I planned to do regularly.  Either way, it was nice to get out and do something besides going out to dinner or for a few drinks. 

I settled quickly into a new routine as winter finally melted away and spring came for real.  I went to my dance class every Thursday, and when the next round of classes started, I added a beginning tap class too.  I wasn’t very good, but it didn’t matter.  I had a lot of fun and was making friends with the people in my classes.  It was also a really great workout, and between the dance classes and my running (which was still more walking than running, but I was determined to stick with it), I lost a couple pounds and started feeling a lot better about myself in general. 
In addition to feeling more confident, I was also feeling better mentally.  I hadn’t had one of those random bad days like my Target parking lot meltdown in weeks.  When I found something that I had accidentally brought to my new house that actually belonged to Kevin, I didn’t agonize over whether or not I could manage texting him and letting him know.  I just did it.  He told me to keep it, and that was the end of it.  I didn’t give it another thought. 
Despite all that, I was still shying away from dating.  It just felt like it was too soon, and it hadn’t been long enough since my last meltdown for me to believe that I was actually out of the woods with it.  Every once in awhile I considered reactivating my online dating account, but then I realized that I kind of hated the entire idea of online dating. 
I also picked a weekend to go visit Chelsea.  I hadn’t seen her since I stopped for lunch on my way back from my parents’ house at Christmas.  She only lived 2 hours away, there was no reason for not seeing her more often.  Her husband, Aaron, was out of town for the fishing opener, and we had a great weekend of shopping, eating, relaxing, and drinking a lot of wine—obviously.  As we were saying goodbye, she looked at me and cocked her head.  “You seem happy, Jen.  Like seriously happy.  I don’t think I’ve seen you this happy in a really long time.”
“I am happy,” I said.  “Seriously happy.  Getting divorced was the worst thing and the best thing that’s ever happened to me, I think.  If that makes any sense.”
“Not really, but I know what you mean,” she said, nodding.  “It sucked at the time, but now that you’ve gotten your life back together and realized how much better off you are, everything is good.”
“Exactly,” I agreed.  And it was true.  Now that I could live my life without being constantly worried that Kevin was cheating on my or lying to me, I felt free.  I wasn’t in a hurry to mess that up by losing my freedom to someone.

Rachael caught up to me in our small parking lot after work the next Thursday.  “Hey, I’m having a few people over this Saturday for a cookout to celebrate spring, and you should come,” she said. 
“I’d love to, but I have plans with Erica and Kelly,” I fibbed.  I didn’t, but I also didn’t want to attend a party where I wouldn’t know anyone but Rachael.
“Bring them with you.  I’ve always wanted to meet them anyway,” she insisted.  “I have a friend I want you to meet.”
I cocked an eyebrow skeptically.  “A friend with a vagina, or a friend with a penis?” I asked.
“A penis,” she admitted.
“Nope,” I said immediately, starting to open my car door.  “You know I’m not really dating right now.”
Unfazed, she said, “Good, because neither is he.”  I gave her a confused look and waited for her to explain.  “He travels a lot for work.  Sometime he’s gone for weeks at a time.  He’s attractive, makes good money, and is a pretty nice guy.  He’d make a great no-pressure friend with benefits.”
I paused, considering this.  A good-looking friend with benefits did sound appealing.  But then I shrugged.  “I don’t know, Rach.”
“Just come.  I promise I won’t tell him about you.  Just come and meet him and if you’re not into it, then that’s fine!  But I think you’ll be into it.”
“You’re not going to stop harassing me until I agree, are you?” I asked, knowing her all too well.
“Nope!” she confirmed, grinning deviously. 
I sighed.  “Let me talk to Erica and Kelly.  If they don’t want to go, I’m not coming, I had plans with them first.” 
“Fine,” she agreed.  “Make sure you tell them why I want you to come, though!”
Kelly and her husband had plans that Saturday with her inlaws, but Erica happily agreed to accompany me to Rachael’s cookout.  “It’s supposed to be really nice this weekend,” she said happily, when I told them about the party that evening over dinner.  “And some video game just came out and I’m sure John is going to spend all weekend playing it.”
“I think it’s really weird that your husband still plays video games for hours at a time,” Kelly said.
“Try days at a time, if he could get away with it,” Erica replied, rolling her eyes.  “But it usually only lasts for a couple weeks after whatever exciting new game comes out, and then he goes back to normal.”
We discussed John’s video game hobby awhile longer, then went our separate ways.  I spent the next day hoping that Erica would bail on me and I’d have an excuse not to go to Rachael’s cookout, but it didn’t happen.  Despite my reluctance to go, I found myself spending a little longer picking out my outfit and doing my hair and makeup on Saturday.  When I realized it, I rolled my eyes at myself and put my hair in a ponytail out of sheer defiance.
“You look really cute,” Erica said when I got in her car.  “And I’m so excited that it’s so nice out!”  She was right.  It was supposed to hit 70 degrees today (not that that was a requirement for a Minnesota spring cookout) and it was sunny and just a little breezy.  It was a great day for an outdoor party.
There were already a handful of cars parked on the street by Rachael’s house, and we parked a few houses down and made our way straight to the backyard.  Rachael spotted us right away and hurried over.  “Hi, you made it!” she said, hugging me.
“I did!” I replied cheerfully.  I was happy to be outside without a coat on, and I wasn’t going to let Rachael’s motivation for inviting me ruin my good mood.  “This is Erica.  Kelly got sick last night and bailed.”  It was too easy to fib to cover my tracks. 
Rachael and Erica greeted each other and Rachael pressed a beer into each of our hands.  “Enjoy the party!  Food is on the patio.  I’ll catch up with you a little later!”  And then she scampered off back to the party.
Erica and I went and got some food and found a place to sit and eat.  I recognized a couple familiar faces from previous social events I’d gone to with Rachael and we chatted with some of them for a little while.  I wondered who it was that Rachael was trying to set me up with, and I scanned the guests to try to guess.  There were a couple nice looking men standing around, but most seemed to be there with a significant other. 
I was grabbing another beer for myself when I heard Rachael behind me.  “Food is over here.  Oh, and I want you to meet my friend from work!”  I paused, with my back still to Rachael.  I realized that whoever she had with her must be the guy she wanted me to meet, and he must have just arrived.  “Jenna!” she said cheerfully.
I opened my beer and turned around, smiling in the direction of Rachael’s voice.  Then I froze in surprise, because I immediately recognized the person she was standing with.

8 comments:

  1. Ahhhh omg don't leave us hanging too long!!!

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  2. I need to know how it is!!

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  3. Come on! I can't have this cliff hanger - I NEED to know who it is. :)

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  4. I bet you its jamie! That would be a great coinsidence..

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  5. I NEED TO KNOW!!!! Hopefully you don't make us wait too long!!!

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  6. So glad I didn't log on yesterday and I can go right to Part 2!!! mum

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