The boardwalk was cold and blustery, not an anomaly for a December night. The damp, salt air blew my hair, which had been swept back off my neck in a loose chignon hours earlier, all around. My heels clicked against the boards as I tried to avoid the gaps between them. I clutched my grandmother’s classic long, velvet winter swing coat to my body as I walked. I had no destination in mind, but somehow I was drawn to the pier. I walked past the abandoned carnival games and listened to the waves crash against the wooden support beams. It had been over two months since Drew showed me the pier, but as I approached the railing we leaned against that October night, I was back in that moment with him. I looked back at Atlantic City. Casinos were lit up, some with red and green lights to mark the upcoming holiday…
Some of my favorite parts of The Other Side of Later are the details. They’re small, usually sentimental, and probably don’t mean a thing to anyone else, but including them made my debut novel more special to me. In the excerpt above, I made sure to mention Julia’s coat used to belong to her grandmother. That’s a direct lift from my life! There have been several formal occasions through college and my adult life when I’ve gone to my parents’ house and dug through the walk-in closet to find my grandmother’s classic, long velvet winter swing coat. It’s truly a classic style that finishes off whatever dress I’ve picked and when I wrap it tightly around my body, I smile knowing that she’s extremely happy and smiling down on me because the coat is still getting good use many, many years after she bought it.
I know these small details are most likely overlooked as The Other Side of Later is read, and that’s okay. But as I continue to share the background behind some of the details in my books, I hope you enjoy them!
“Those guys have earned the right to walk into that stadium and wave their nation’s flag. That’s the single greatest honor an athlete can ever have. That’s what the Olympics are all about.” –Cool Runnings
I was never even close to being an Olympic caliber athlete, but this quote from Cool Runnings, one of my favorite movies as a kid, still gives me goosebumps when I hear it. Two summers ago, my husband, parents, and I took a trip to Germany and Austria. Along the way, we toured Olympiastadion in Munich and visited Bergisel Sprungschanze in Innsbruck. I walked on the track of the stadium built more than four decades ago in Munich, and I jogged up the steps of the ski jump stadium in Innsbruck to touch the Olympic rings built 50 years prior. In both moments, I couldn’t help but think of all the other athletes – high school standouts, weekend warriors, and elite professionals alike – that had done so in a similar manner. What an honor it must be for every Olympian to represent their country as they walk into that stadium tonight!
Who else plans to watch the Opening Ceremonies from Rio?
I distinctly remember a night as a 17 year old as a high school senior when I laid on my childhood bed sideways with my feet hanging off the side of the bed staring at the ceiling thinking about how a year from that night I’d be in college, away from home and away from my family and friends. Growing up, it was essentially a foregone conclusion that I’d go to college, and I can honestly say that without an ounce of bitterness that some carry with them about the choices – or lack thereof – presented to them in their young adult lives. Regardless of my parents’ wishes for me to go to college after high school, I always wanted to go to college too. I liked school; I saw college as the next logical step. That wasn’t the problem that night half a lifetime ago.
That evening, I was looking ahead to the future, and it was exciting. College football games, meeting new friends, campus life – I had heard about it all. It sounded great, but there was this allusive event so to speak that existed in my head – actually moving to college. I looked around my room and the reality of it escaped me. I knew it was coming in less than a year, but how? What would this room that I lived in for 17 years look like after I moved? (Little did I know college dorms are so small that my childhood bedroom remained virtually untouched from the way it was that night.) How was I going to feel living away from home? No familiar face each evening when I done with classes; no childhood friends to eat lunch with. How was that possible?
Well, I knew it was possible, but it still remained an enigma until that early September years ago.
And it’s funny because 17 years later, I’m staring down another one of life’s unknowns – childbirth. My husband and I are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first child – a boy – at the end of the month! (I can’t believe I can finally say I’m due this month even if it is still 4 weeks away!) Just like that night half a lifetime ago, there are so many exciting and amazing things on the other side of labor and delivery. But it’s those whens and hows that leave me on edge just like I was as a high school senior anxiously awaiting the move to college. When is it going to happen? How will it all go down?
Of course, I guess that’s what makes it such an exciting part of life. As much as I want to know, sometimes not knowing makes it all the more special when it happens.