15 June 2013

Excerpts from Chapter One

It’s true that I was alive before I met Jacob Fielding Olson, but at the same time, I feel like my life story begins when he entered it. Part of the reason is simply timing-- it was just before his grand entrance that I actually started living and doing interesting things with my life. I was nineteen years old, skinny and fiery. My goal? Be shocking! --which at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg meant studded belts, black fingernails and my favorite hot pink chucks. Let’s face it, I wasn’t really edgy at all. But I did utilize outrageous profanities (“damn” and “hell”), blasted inappropriate music (Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin), and thoroughly enjoyed mocking “Molly Mormons” as I sat on the back row at church in my clunky shoes.

On the flip side of things, I was actually very devout in my religion, eager to be loved, and terrified to talk to new people. I had with no idea about how to make new friends or attract mature college aged guys. The easiest way for me to get (and deal with) attention was to let out my outrageously dramatic side when telling stories, say what was in my head as soon as the thought appeared, and to laugh at myself when I fell down the stairs (which was often).

At nineteen I hovered somewhere in between an awkward teenager and a confident woman. My dreams for the future were ambitious and vivid and I was determined to have a hopelessly romantic life. Since then, I have realized that this is not a movie. This is my life. But back then, it was a movie, I was the star and the ending was going to be happy and spectacular.

In this state of mind, I was drawn to people equally enthusiastic and, well, odd as I was. Enter Crystal at the end of August 2004. Since both of us were English majors and French minors, our paths crossed often in classes. She caught my eye with her bright red lipstick and pearls which, at the time, were as out of the norm as my pigtails and leather bracelets. One day I finally worked up the nerve to approach her and introduce myself. Much to my surprise, Crystal instantly opened up and started talking-- and she hasn't stopped since.

Sometimes I ask myself how we are still friends after all these years and with all this distance between us. I guess it comes back to that moment when I jumped into her car for the first time to go get lunch together. Without thinking about what song was playing, I started singing along.

’I’m a sweet Transvestite, from transexual Transylvania.' 

Crystal slammed on her brakes, almost throwing me through the windshield. 

‘You know the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW??’ she screamed at me. 
Taken aback by her exuberance I muttered, ‘A little.’

It had been only a little over a year since Crystal had been baptised Mormon, and she had never lived in “the bubble” of Rexburg and Mormonism before; as a convert, she felt alone and excluded. 

‘I didn’t think ANY mormons knew that!’

Once Crystal and I established that I also knew Tom Petty, The Eagles, Moulin Rouge and Styx, in her eyes we were meant to be best friends. We shared musical tastes as well as the same major and minor; she latched on and we haven't let go since.

Although we had much in common, there were major differences between us. Number one-- our near future goals. You see, Crystal was on the hunt for a husband, while I was aiming toward living abroad and being independent. Somehow, she sucked me along into her manhunt, which led to some very amusing situations. I tagged along to a open mic talent night where her latest crush played his guitar. Afterwards, we stopped by his trashy apartment to gush about how well he played. As we exited and made our way down the tiny narrow staircase (you can see where this is headed) I lost my balance and grabbed onto Crystal for support. Considering she was wearing tight shiny pants and platform sandals, this wasn’t the wisest option. By the time we both reached the bottom of the stairs in the most ungraceful heap, Crystal had shouted a plethora of phrases that they didn’t teach us in French class. Needless to say, her fling with the guitarist didn’t work out.

Together, we drifted into Fall of 2004. Of all the seasons, Autumn speaks to my soul. When it’s time to bring out the sweaters and hats, to drink hot chocolate while watching the leaves out the window and to sit by a fire and read, I feel myself smiling constantly. Nothing compares to crisp Autumn mornings, seeing my breath in the air and crunching leaves underfoot. The food, the colors, the smells resonate with me. It seemed fitting that amid this season-- seemingly designed solely for the pleasure of Jennifer-- that I met Jacob.

Stay tuned for more from my novel...
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