Divorced thirty-something Steve Collins is contemplating yet another dateless Thanksgiving when he decides to take destiny into his own hands.
"On nights when the weather is good, I sit on my balcony overlooking the parking lot and wonder what happened to Jennifer. Of course she's not online, ever the obscure object of my affections: the only one I really want to see, and the one I cannot find. Jennifer Mello, dark-haired and brilliant, teenage queen of all my dreams: owned my soul and barely knew my name. Still, I keep checking: all roads lead to Facebook. You never recover from high school."
So begins Steve's search for his high school crush. Is this his moment, or will his road be cockblocked by mysterious forces beyond his control?
"This deceptively slim, effective story about reinvigorating a past love will surely entertain fans of romance and other readers looking for an uncomplicated, breezy, and fun beach distraction. It has a winning protagonist whose need for love and acceptance will likely resonate with every reader."
—Kirkus (read the full review)
MEET STEVE COLLINS:
Someone once wrote that happy families are all alike, that only the unhappy ones are different. Wrong. I was sick of her, she was sick of me. Just the weariness all the unhappy ones catch, usually on Facebook.
A tip for prospective young husbands of the first-time married variety: don't buy a fixer-upper the same year you get married. Scratch that: don't buy a fixer-upper, period. You can actually feel your love leaching out of your body every time you come home from working a ten hour shift to strip wallpaper, only to find your bride asleep on the couch. I mean, I know she was pregnant... but still.
In eighteen months of homeownership, I went through four contractors, three maxed-out credit cards, two mortgage companies (first mortgage and home equity) and one marriage. Two years later, my finances are settling back to normal: at least, what normal looks like when you make $82,000 per year as a middle manager at Assure Insurance, Pittsburgh office. I do: rent an apartment, have a gym membership I mostly don't use, send out my shirts for dry cleaning. I don't: have a new car, passport or girlfriend.
I have been spending my newfound abundance of free time trying to meet new people. By people, I mean women. By women, I mean females who embrace femininity. Or at least don't weigh as much as me. Which, admittedly, is about thirty pounds more than what I weighed when I got married: I gained twenty pounds the first two months Sara was pregnant, another ten for the miscarriage.
When the divorce was finalized, I hit happy hour with a few of the guys from work, the way I used to when I was still married. Man, I wish I was you one of them said to me, standing way too close, all red eyed and sweaty.
The truth is, I have not found myself awash in possibilities. The lovely ones who smile at you when you are young and single—or young and married—are nowhere to be found when you are thirty-eight, divorced and driving an eight-year-old Honda Accord. Sara ended up better in this department: she got engaged to her former boss who friended her on Facebook, right after the divorce decree was entered. I don't blame her, and I'm not jealous, just chagrined by my own irrelevance and the lightning speed at which she's moved on.
So I use the computer. A lot. Had a few first dates from people I met online, then closed my account with mismatch.com. If I was condemned by a heartless judge to limit my search to online dating services, I would surely die alone. Now I just use Facebook to send friend requests to old girlfriends, unrequited crushes and classmates. Most of them friend me back. They are all married.
On nights when the weather's good, I sit on my balcony overlooking the parking lot and wonder what happened to Jennifer. Of course she's not online, ever the obscure object of my affections: the only one I really want to see, and the one I cannot find. Jennifer Mello, dark-haired and brilliant, teenage queen of all my dreams: owned my soul and barely knew my name. Still, I keep checking: all roads lead to Facebook. You never recover from high school.
© J.T. Willow