You're three thousand miles from the place you once called home.
Jim walked into his closet and pulled out two slightly different coloured Oxford shirts and held them up against him before deciding on the lighter blue. He wasn't sure why he was so concerned about what he was going to wear, it's not like anyone will be paying that much attention to his wardrobe choice anyway.
Staring at himself in the mirror, he straightened his navy tie. God, he thought, I look exhausted. The three-hour time difference was affecting him way more than he thought it would. He smiled to himself as he watched Ellie asleep in bed behind him. He glanced quickly at the clock on his bedside table, and let out a deep breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding. He'd have to wake her in a minute or he'd be late. It was tough to get Ellie up and out of bed sometimes; even though she was little, Jim could already tell she would not grow up to be a morning person.
He sat down on the edge of the bed and slipped on his new leather shoes, adjusting his feet slightly before bending down to tie them up. If he were thinking clearly, he'd probably have gone with his trusty suede's. He had a feeling that breaking in new shoes on his first day of work wasn't going to be a good idea, but he wanted to make a good impression. He sighed heavily, he was clearly over thinking things today.
Why was he so nervous? It wasn't not like he'd never started a new job before. He knew that he was a pretty badass salesman; so selling paper would hopefully be a pretty easy gig for him. Before moving back to Scranton, he'd worked at a web-based company in Brea, Southern California for five years, selling ad space to companies. He'd recently been promoted to regional manager, which looked great on his resume when he applied for the job at Dunder Mifflin.
Despite all that, there was still a lot to lose and the more he thought about it, the more he freaked himself out. If he only had to worry about himself, it would be easier. But he had Ellie to think about too. So, making the decision to move three thousand miles across the country and leave behind a nice house and a decent salary was not something he wanted to regret. The thought of living closer to his parents was the only thing getting him by. He wouldn't worry so much knowing his parents were looking after his little girl when he went back to work.
Seeing the clock strike eight, Jim knew that he had to get moving if he was to make it to work on time. He made his way over to the bed and sat down, stroking her arm softly. "Ellie, time to get up, sweetheart." Her eyes opened sleepily and her face lit up as she focused on Jim. "Hi, baby, I love you." Jim smiled as his fingers formed the 'I love you' sign. This was something the doctors had encouraged Jim to do from early on, so it had now become second nature to him to speak and sign at the same time.
"Sit still," Jim laughed as he tried to slip the hearing aids into Ellie's small ears while she wriggled around excitedly. Once they slid into place, Jim turned her around in his arms. "How's that? Better?" he asked as Ellie lifted her hand and touched her finger to Jim's mouth. It was her way of telling him that she wanted to hear him talk.
Jim reached over and picked up the clothes he'd laid out for Ellie early that morning as he transferred her from her crib into his bed. The new house unsettled her, causing her to wake up around 5am and the only way to settle her was to bring her back in with him.
"Daddy's got to go to work today, but you're going to get to spend the whole day with Grandma," he told her. She tried to climb into his lap, her butt hoisted in the air as she tried to tackle the comforter that was in the way of her Daddy.
Jim lifted Ellie up and laid her back down in front of him. He carefully removed her pyjamas and changed her diaper, before he sat her in his lap and began dressing her. She lifted her arms in the air as Jim pulled the pink t-shirt over her head.
"I'm going to miss you," he told her, his hands making the signs automatically as he talked to her.
Once he finished getting Ellie ready, he carried her downstairs and placed her in her highchair.
"Toast or Cheerios?" he asked, as he knelt down in front of her, grinning as she made two little oh's with her thumb and forefingers.
"Cheerios it is, then."
The doorbell rang just as they had both finished their breakfast. Jim smiled as Ellie laughed at the ding-dong sound the bell made, and it melted his heart every time she did that.
He opened the door and his Mom rushed in, ignoring him and walking over to Ellie. "Hey, Mom. Oh no, I'm fine, I'm not nervous at all," he teased as he followed her into the kitchen.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart. It's just so lovely to have Ellie living so close now. How you doing? You okay?"
Jim wiped Ellie's mouth and leaned down to give her a kiss.
"Yeah, I'm okay. A little more nervous than I thought I'd be, but I think that's more to do with leaving Ellie, you know?"
Larissa smiled reassuringly when she saw the anxiety in her son's eyes. "Sweetheart, she'll be with me, it's not like you're leaving her with a stranger."
"I know, but this will be the longest we've ever been apart." He explained as he put his suit jacket on.
"I know, but you have to go back to work sometime, it's the reason you can home after all. I know you're going to hate me for asking, but... Have you spoken to Chloe?"
Jim exhaled deeply and ran his hand through his hair. "Mom, please. Not now."
"I'm just asking..."
"No, but you're not just asking, are you?"
"Jim... I just think it would be good for Ellie to know who her Mom was."
"If you said this to me a few months ago I'd agree with you, but we've not seen her in nine months. I've left messages on her cell phone, with her friends, with her family. I've told everyone who might possibly talk to her that we're moving back,' it's not like I packed our bags and just left. I gave her the chance, Mom, but she didn't take it, and you know what? I'm glad. I don't want Ellie knowing that her Mom didn't want her."
"No, Mom. Please, I can't do this today." He rubbed his hand tiredly over his face. "I know you only want what you think is best for me, Mom, and for Ellie, but its not her. If she wants to talk to me, she'll call."
Larissa walked over and wrapped her arms tightly around Jim's waist. "Okay."
"Thanks Mom." Jim turned his head and placed a kiss on her temple. "I should really get going." He told her as he broke the hug and made his way over to Ellie and crouched down in front of her. "Be good for Grandma, okay?"
Ellie nodded and placed her open hand on her jaw and then slid her fingers higher onto her cheek. 'Ahhh, you want a kiss huh? I think I can do that." He teased as he stood up and kissed her cheek.
The drive only took about ten minutes, but it felt longer. He drummed his fingers nervously on the steering wheel and changed the radio station numerous times while waiting in traffic - he couldn't remember being this nervous that he just couldn't sit still.
Jim pulled into Scranton's Business Center and parked his car. He sat in silence for a couple of minutes, psyching himself up before making his way inside.
He rode the elevator with an older man who Jim was sure was looking him up and down in a strange way.
"Hi. Jim Halpert. I'm starting at Dunder Mifflin." He said as he extended his hand out and introduced himself.
The older man took his hand and held it tightly. "Creed... If you need anything, you come to me."
"Thanks, I may just do that," Jim replied nervously.
"You know, office supplies... and other stuff," Creed explained as he patted the pocket of his jacket and raised his eyebrows at Jim.
"Er, thanks." The elevator reached their floor and Creed hurried off before Jim could say anything else.
He followed the signs to Dunder Mifflin and walked over to the reception desk.
"Hi, I'm Jim, I'm the new guy."
The receptionist stood up from behind her desk and held out her hand. "Hi. I'm Pam."
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Chapter End Notes:
I was inspired to write this story after my friend found out recently that her little boy is profoundly deaf. He'll need to wear hearing aids full time, and just like Jim, they've been encouraged to sign at the same time as talking to him.