I've face-planted myself into rock bottom.
Well, maybe a hammock above rock bottom—one my aunt Doreen graciously set out for me when I found myself abandoned and broke.
She's the provider of the cabin I'm temporarily living in, the four hundred dollars in my otherwise empty bank account, and this current job interview at Grace Community Church, which is highly improbable since I don't believe in God.
Though I have to admit, Pastor Thomas is not what I expected. For one, he's only ten years older than me, and two, he's wearing jeans, a pair of polished work boots, and a tight polo shirt with a stitched church logo over his heart. I say 'tight' because the seams along his biceps look like they're crying for mercy. The guy has muscles. And not the I-carry-a-few-boxes-now-and-then kind of muscles. No, these are the I-pump-iron-in-the-gym kind of muscles. Luckily, they're really the only intimidating thing about him.
"So, January...that's a unique name. Is there a story behind it?"
I stop from rolling my eyes. No, there is no story. No rhyme or reason of any kind. My birthday is not in January, it's in August. In fact, there is absolutely no significant event in the month at all. But lucky me, my mom was all about unique, cool baby names. I don't think she ever considered what it would be like to wear the moniker. Then again, my mom often doesn't consider much more than herself. Yet another reason why I'm not returning home. I don't have the money for an apartment deposit, and living with my mom and her newest husband is out of the question.
"No story, I'm afraid. Just my mom keeping me humble. Everyone usually calls me Jan." I offer a self-deprecating chuckle and forget for a second that I'm interviewing with a pastor. "I guess it could be worse: I could be a boy named Sue."
To my utter shock, he laughs. Like full belly laugh, and I realize he actually gets the joke. Almost as if he's listened to Johnny Cash himself. Wait a second, are pastors allowed to listen to jailhouse country?
I roll my shoulders, hoping my face doesn't show everything I'm thinking, which unfortunately it has a habit of doing.
"Your aunt was right about you. Quick wit." He points a finger. "That's the sign of a very smart person."
Sure...I'll take that. Truth be told, most of my wit comes from clamping down on what I really want to say. Although, with him, I'm finding my usual sarcasm is waning. I like Pastor Thomas. Not in a weird I'm-attracted-to-a-man-of-the-cloth kind of way. Beefy guys have never been my preference and definitely not ones wearing a wedding ring. But he's genuine and kind, and not at all like the two guys who stood on the corner of my apartment complex in college telling me I was going to hell.
"Your aunt says you're originally from Georgia?"
"Yes, sir, I moved to Texas this past August."
"Any particular reason why?"
Now all my wit is gone, and I find myself wanting to stretch out on his leather couch and download all my problems to him. See, it all began this past May when I met my soulmate while he was stationed at Robins Air Force Base. We fell in love, then he got orders to move to San Antonio, Texas. I gave up my apartment, quit my job, and emptied my savings account to go with him because I thought he was "the one." A month after we moved, he deployed to Afghanistan. Whether from separation or stress or just bad timing, he realized I wasn't, in fact, his soulmate. Julia, a fellow Air Force sergeant, now fits that description. His request for me to move out of his apartment before he returned to the States was polite. At least more so than the engagement pictures he recently posted on Instagram.
But I don't curl into the fetal position and tearfully share my latest nightmare. Instead, I fight for a smile and pray lightning doesn't make it past the ceiling when I utter the untruth: "I just needed a change of scenery, and Midlothian seemed a good place to start. Plus, I've always loved spending time with Aunt Doreen."
The last part is true. She's eccentric and bold, and despite her annoying habit of slipping Bible verses into everyday conversation, I adore her. She has the biggest heart of any woman I know, and there was no one better suited to be my safety net after the biggest heartbreak in my twenty-nine years of life.