My special guest today is author Jenyfer Matthews. She’s talking about a very special challenge she’s facing this week as well as her new release, Separation Anxiety.
You know how it is, you go on vacation and you buy things. Maybe you’re even going to a place where you expect to shop so you travel light going.
Now imagine that you live in a country that not only doesn’t have good malls or decent mail service, but where you can’t even find quality socks when you need them. That’s me, in Egypt.
I’m an American who has lived abroad for eleven years (where does time go??). It wasn’t so bad when I lived in the United Arab Emirates – Dubai hosts an annual Shopping Festival, after all. But even there, in the land of shopping malls, there were still things you couldn’t find easily, like good socks or books (gasp).
Every summer I come back to America with light suitcases and a long shopping list. I’ve got it nearly down to a science now. Each child has their own ticket and we’re allowed two checked suitcases apiece, each weighing 50lbs. I’ve gotten very good at packing things – for instance, I pack all the heaviest items in the smallest suitcase, on the theory that it won’t go overweight because it will be full before I get too much in there anyway. In all my years of bringing back a year’s supply of miscellaneous stuff for a family of four, I’ve only once had to pay an overweight charge. Not bad on average, all in all.
This year, however, I’m worried.
I not only have several large but light, bulky items, but I also have a couple of very heavy things including a much-larger-than-I-expected jewelry chest and a lidded cast iron soup pot that once belonged to my grandmother. Unique challenges to my packing skills to say the least. I travel back to Egypt on Sunday so I’ll have to get back to you on how it all goes.
I’ve traveled a lot in the last decade so I suppose it’s no surprise that I would write a book where the heroine starts traveling after a major life crisis. I have to admit that I when I wrote SEPARATION ANXIETY I was indulging in a major fantasy exercise because not only wasn’t my character dragging two small children in her wake, she shopped as she liked and simply shipped her excess and unneeded items home ahead of her. Bliss.
I’m happy to say that SEPARATION ANXIETY is available in multiple digital formats from Smashwords.com as well as other major ebookstores, including Sony and Apple. SEPARATION ANXIETY is also available in paperback from Amazon.com.
Sometimes running away is the first step toward finding yourself.
Aurora has spent her entire married life transforming herself from a regular, middle class girl into the perfect society wife. Life seems perfect until she is unceremoniously dumped by her philandering cliche’ of a husband just before Christmas – and their tenth wedding anniversary. Devastated and unable to face the social ostracism or the holiday parties, Aurora and her best friend Kat plan a trip to Amsterdam for a weekend…then decide to keep going. Aurora attempts to drown her sorrows with wine in Amsterdam and Frankfurt, finds her anger in Athens and Cairo, and reclaims her sexuality in Dubai. By the time she and Kat reach Bangkok at the New Year, Aurora is ready and eager to move on with her life.
Planned as a way to escape her pain, Aurora’s travels instead become a journey to a new sense of self and a whole new world – post-divorce.
I am standing in the kitchen debating on whether or not baking some gingerbread would be overkill when I hear a car door outside.
My stomach flips and I run to the window to peek outside. It’s Bryce.
I press my hand to my stomach and try to slow my breathing. Hyperventilation and hysteria is hardly the alluring look I’m going for.
I go back to the kitchen, check my lipstick in my reflection on the window, and finger comb my hair. I whirl around and try to appear casual when I hear Bryce’s key in the door.
“Aurora?” Bryce says as he lets himself in.
“Good morning, Bryce,” I say, walking toward him and giving him a big smile. “Good to see you.”
He looks at me with some suspicion as he stands uncertainly in the foyer.
He’s not as impeccably presented as usual. His shirt is wrinkled and he doesn’t look as if he’s slept much. He certainly doesn’t look like a man who is happy with the decision he’s just made. I can feel my hopes rising just looking at him. This might be easier than I expected.
“Don’t just stand there,” I say, “This is your home, come in. I made some coffee. Sit down and have a cup. Can I get you some breakfast?”
“Thanks, but no,” he says, putting his hands in his pockets. “I really don’t have much time. I have an early appointment this morning. I’ll just go up and get my things.”
My smile fades. He’s deviating from my mental script of how this will go. He’s supposed to sit down, have breakfast and snap out of whatever spell Audrey has him under. “What? Just like that? Can’t we even talk about this? About us?”
I hear him sigh. “We already talked last night. What more is there to say?”
“We didn’t talk last night!” I take a deep breath and try to regain my composure. Bryce doesn’t like scenes so screeching at him will hardly win him over or gain his ear. I start again. “We didn’t talk. You made an announcement. I’d like a chance to discuss things with you. Privately.”
“I don’t really have much more to add, Aurora. I’m in love with Audrey and it doesn’t seem…kind to draw this out any more than we have to. I think it’s best to make a clean break.”
“So that’s it? After ten years together? How is it ‘kind’ to just walk out on me with no warning? Aren’t we at least supposed to try counseling?” I ask him as I follow him up the stairs to our bedroom.
Bryce is pulling suitcases from the back of our walk-in closet. “I don’t want to go to counseling.” He pauses to look at me. “I’m sorry.”
I stand there, stunned. He’s not repentant or regretful. He hasn’t realized his mistake. He’s merely uncomfortable with the situation. With me.
How has this happened? Yesterday things were normal. I was buying him an anniversary present. How can he be leaving me today?
He turns and begins to put things in the open suitcases. Shirts, pants, suit jackets, ties. I cross my arms and watch him silently. He picks up a small satchel and turns to cross to the bathroom. He squeezes my arm as he passes me. He is still my husband but already his touch seems foreign.
I can hear him opening drawers and dropping items into the bag. When he comes back out I want to catch his eye — to make him look at me! — but he’s looking down.
“You can’t leave without at least talking to me,” I try again. “You owe me that much at least.”
“I can’t see how talking about this will be helpful to you,” Bryce says, opening a dresser drawer and tossing socks and underwear into his suitcases. “I don’t have much time and endless discussion will only serve to hurt you more.”
“Oh my god — is she outside?” I ask. “Is she waiting for you in the car?” I run to the window to look out, trying to see into his car.
“No. I wouldn’t do that,” Bryce says. “I wouldn’t bring her here. This is hard enough as it is. On all of us.”
I can’t help but wonder whose feelings he is trying to spare because it certainly doesn’t seem to be mine.
It’s getting hard to maintain my composure when things are spinning so far out of my control. But this doesn’t make any sense to me. The situation does not compute. I have to have better answers than he’s giving me.
“What…” My voice breaks. I clear my throat and try again. “What did I do wrong? What do I need to do to fix this?”
Bryce sighs again. He stops packing for a moment and puts his hands on his hips. Finally he looks up at me.
“You haven’t done anything wrong,” he says. “Things just…happened. I’ve changed. I want different things. Neither of us is getting any younger and life is too short not to take happiness where you can find it. None of this was your fault. It’s not you, Aurora, it’s me.”
When I don’t answer him, he turns and starts packing again.
I can’t believe it. It’s been a while since I’ve heard it, but I’m pretty sure my husband of a decade just dumped me with a string of clichés and the old it’s-not-you-it’s-me line.
CONTEST – Jenyfer is giving away a PDF download of Separation Anxiety to one lucky reader. All you need to do to enter the draw is comment on this post or ask Jenyfer a question.