Ziggy and I slept in the same bunk. Good thing we’re small.
We didn’t conk out right away. We lay there, spooned, our heads on the same pillow, talking quietly for a little while.
“I guess I really can’t get out of going to your family Christmas this year,” Ziggy said with a low chuckle.
“Nope,” I said, nuzzling the tattoo on the back of his neck happily. I was still buzzed from the beer I’d had two hours before. Or maybe I was just giddy. I sobered myself with a sudden thought. “Actually, though, I know we didn’t get a chance to talk about this… I don’t want it to seem like just because you’re wearing my ring you’re obligated to do anything automatically. I was serious when I said I don’t want a parody of a marriage. I don’t want this to just be a new layer of assumptions we make, and get wrong, and rip each other over.”
“It won’t be if we keep talking and telling each other what we want,” he said. “And that means you have to actually tell me things sometimes.”
“I was about to say the same thing to you.”
“I’m not the one with the problem expressing myself or prioritizing my needs.”
“True.” Very true. “But sometimes you play your cards really close to the vest.”
He shivered a little in my arms. “Habit,” he said softly, almost a whisper.
“I know I’m not the only one who’s vulnerable,” I said, kissing the “d” note inked into his skin. “I know I’m not exactly a genius at relationships. But you have to trust me, too, for me to trust you.”
“I know.” He pulled the blanket up over our shoulders. We were sort of half dressed, having shucked our jeans for sleeping. “I guess the promise I really want to make you is that I’m going to try to stop always putting myself first, and put the partnership first, but to be able to do that I have to have input from you about what you want and how it’s going. And I am a little scared, you know? Because not putting myself first is…totally against my instincts.”
“And you know I’ll try to justify things to myself if I don’t have checks and balances. This is going to be tricky sometimes.”
“Dear one. We’re creative people. Creative life requires a little bit of selfishness, don’t you think?”
I knew what he meant. You’ve heard me rant before about how one has to push back against expectations of others and make space for whatever one’s art is, which sometimes means coming off like a pushy asshole or a diva even if you’re not. “I’m assuming we’re both going to have artistic side projects that don’t necessarily involve each other, just like we do now. If you go to Paris for two months to film a movie, I’m probably not going with you.”
“And if you traipse across the country with a blues band, likewise,” Ziggy said. “Remind me where we’re going next?”
“Tennessee. That’s Fort Knox you’re thinking of.”
“Right. Where all the gold is. Or used to be.”
“Not all of it,” I said, squeezing his hand gently with mine.
“I can’t believe you talked me into flying here so you could spring this on me.” He had that smiling sound in his words. “What would you have done if I said no?”
“Waited until we were somewhere else. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure I had the nerve to do it until we were in the bookstore.”
“Something about the bookstore brought it on?”
“Something about you brought it on.”
Yeah, we were going to continue to be sappy like that for at least a few more days.
When we got to Knoxville we had only slept a couple of hours, but we pulled up to a hotel in downtown and Waldo came and distributed room keys to everyone so we could finish our night’s sleep in real beds.
As I was looking for my shoes he handed me one with a shake of his head. This expression of disapproval wasn’t really any different than Waldo’s usual busting of my balls. “Got you two lovebirds the honeymoon suite. Lobby call’s at two o’clock.”
Ziggy grinned. After Waldo had moved on he asked, “Do you think he was joking?”
“Let’s go find out.” We went through the lobby to the elevators and navigated our way to the room number indicated on the little envelope the key was in. It was at the very end of a hall, which is sometimes where the suites are. Inside we discovered a corner room which was probably larger than the usual one, with a very large bed.
“Heh. Should’ve told him we’d rather have a standard double so we can have one bed to fuck on and one to sleep in,” Ziggy said. Then he went into the bathroom. “Oh my.”
“What?” I followed him to see a whirlpool tub big enough for two. “I guess he actually wasn’t kidding.”
“Then that was actually sweet of him,” Ziggy said, and kissed me on the cheek. “I think he likes you a lot more than he lets on.”
“Waldo? Puts up with me.”
“He puts up with everybody. He is in a perpetual state of aggrievement.”
“True.” I yawned. “I want to get back in bed much more than I want to get in that tub.”
“Perfectly reasonable.” Zig went and closed the blackout curtains and then called for a wakeup call at noon while I brushed my teeth.
And then we got into a very large bed. Okay, it was probably just king size but after sleeping squished together in a coffin-sized bunk, it seemed even larger than usual. It was like eight in the morning at that point and outside we could hear traffic and street sounds, but that didn’t bother me. I felt very dislocated, though, and I don’t think all of it was from having slept only half a night, and from being in so many different places. It wasn’t the usual tour dislocation.
It was that now that we’d made these promises to each other, the whole world had shifted. I had changed–voluntarily changed–and that meant nothing was quite the same.
We had a giant bed but we slept squished together just like we would have in a thirty-two inch wide bunk.