887. Do You Hear What I Hear?

(Merry Christmas, DGC fans! I figured what the hey, for the holiday, let’s post a day early. -ctan)

I want you to picture a hotel suite overlooking a crowded city, large panes of glass filled with vistas of buildings everywhere. The “prez” suite took up two corners of the hotel so we could see in three different directions if we wanted to.

We didn’t really want to.

That morning, someone slipped an envelope under my door. In it was a room key–the card kind with a magnetic stripe. I heard it because I was awake. It had been an insomniac night. The bed felt lumpy–so lumpy it made my legs hurt when I was on my side and my back hurt when I was on my back.

Bart’s bed must have been smoother because he was out like a light. We’d forgotten to close the curtains but dark or light didn’t seem to matter. He was out cold.

I went and picked up the envelope and I could feel the card key in it.

I could also feel a headache starting, a sensation like the pressure of an airplane takeoff pressing on my ears. I rummaged through my backpack to see if I had some Tylenol or ibuprofen in there, but no. Before we’d left the States, I’d taken out all the non-essential drugs and drug-like objects to try to avoid complications.

So much for that idea, eh? What a time to need a prescription. I flexed my hand. So far so good, though.

That’s because it’s actually getting better, I told myself. No Vitamin F is fine. You don’t need it.

You figure that must be the kind of thing that parachute jumpers tell themselves before they leap out of the plane, right? The equipment’s all working, they must think to themselves. Otherwise, they’d never be able to bring themselves to jump, right? Despite the fact that every now and then…it doesn’t all work out fine?

My attempt at being an optimist was only convincing if you believe this time won’t be the time that the parachute fails.

Not that I had much choice about taking the leap or not. I twirled the hotel key in my fingers.

I got dressed without waking Bart. Having told him where I was going today–Ziggyland–I didn’t feel the need to remind him. I slipped out the door and went down the hall to figure out which door I wanted.

It wasn’t hard to figure out once I saw there was only one set of double doors.

I let myself in. The room was silent. I tiptoed to the door to the bedroom… it was empty and a little flutter of panic started to tickle my throat. I tiptoed back across the main suite to another door, another bedroom…

There he was. He was sitting crosslegged on the floor, hands folded, eyes closed.

Meditating. He was wearing a loose sweatshirt over a tank top and I couldn’t even see him breathing.

When he opened his eyes he looked right at me standing in the doorway, as if he knew I was there.

“I heard you come in,” he said, unfolding himself and standing up. “You look awful.”

“I feel awful,” I admitted, as I put my arms around his waist. “I feel like I have a hangover except I was good yesterday and didn’t drink.”

“Hug me.”

“I am.”

“Mm-hmm.” He hugged me back and we stood there like that. Long enough that I lost track of how long we were standing there. Somewhere in the back of my brain the only thought was Ziggy Ziggy Ziggy Ziggy. He was real and right there and touching me and not something I imagined, no matter how surreal the moment felt.

“I just got an idea for a song,” he said. “About time standing still, except it’s us standing still.”

Another little zing about how I wasn’t writing, or even getting ideas. That was the sort of idea I’d get, usually. Except I didn’t. “Is that because we never stop moving?”

“That, too,” he said, and I guess he understood what I meant better than I did.

“My bed was lumpy and I slept in a bad position on the plane,” I said.

“I wondered where you went. I thought maybe you were avoiding Linn.”

It was easier to agree than to tell him I hid in an airplane bathroom so I could have a meltdown. And maybe it was partly true. “Yeah.”

His hand had crept up the back of my neck and was massaging it gently. “You do feel all knotty. Let’s get in the tub.”


I was expecting when he said “tub” that he meant a regular bathtub. But no, there was an oval whirlpool bath big enough for four.

He leaned over the tub to start the extra-big taps running. He’d had his haircut freshened up sometime in the past couple of days and it was shorn short in the back by his neck, asymmetrically long on the top. The blue streak had been brightened. Mine hadn’t, but then I didn’t have to do all the photo shoots, TV appearances, interviews and so on that he did.

“So, how many things did you blow off to get today to yourself?” I asked, raising my voice a little to be heard over the thundering of the water into the tub.

“I don’t know and I don’t want to know. A lot.” He bristled. “I needed a break from being on. From being…” He shook his head.

“You don’t have to justify it to me,” I reassured him.

He turned as he stripped the sweatshirt off and flung it into a corner. “And you needed a day off.”

“I was going to have a day off, anyway.” I went right to the most cornball thing I could think of to say. Well, it didn’t feel cornball at the time. It felt just plain raw. “It’s you I need.”

I suddenly resented how much time I’d spent on this tour not-seeing him, but I tamped it down, trying to enjoy being with him without thinking about that. Despite it being somewhat confusing that he said, “Likewise, dear one.”

We got in the tub when it was still only partially full and sat there together listening to it fill. Eventually he went and squeaked the taps shut again, and then launched himself back to me like a dolphin. I caught him against my chest and we settled against the sloped wall of the tub in the sudden quiet.

My breathing gradually slowed to match his, as we lay there with his cheek settled on my chest. His eyes were closed. I let mine drift closed.

“Tell me neither of us is on something that would make this dangerous,” he murmured.

“What, you mean, pass out in the bath? I’m startlingly sober right now, if that’s what you mean.”

“That is what I mean.” He drew a long breath. “You can probably tell me how many rock stars passed out in the tub and drown without realizing it.”

“Some, I’m sure,” I said. I actually couldn’t think of anyone off the top of my head, which I took as a good sign.

We lay there like that, just breathing, quietly, for a while. I don’t know how long. I eventually spoke. “This doesn’t feel real.”

“What doesn’t?”

“Sitting here alone with you.” I couldn’t figure out how to say what it had been like for the past few weeks. Maybe I didn’t have to say anything though. He knew, right? That had been his reality, too. “It’s like we slipped into another dimension in here.”

He nodded but didn’t open his eyes. “It’s better than meditation. I was just imagining we were in the bathtub in New York.”

“I’m pretty sure we’re not.”

“Shhhh. Let’s pretend.”

So we lay there a while longer, imagining we were the only two people in the world.

By the way! Those of you who just discovered the DGC serial recently might have missed our “Christmas Special”s from a while back!

So if you haven’t heard Daron’s story about how the song Candlelight got written, or Bart’s story about his best Christmas as a kid, you can find them at:

* Hallelujah: Bart’s Christmas Story: https://daron.ceciliatan.com/archives/4639

* The Candlelight Story: https://daron.ceciliatan.com/archives/3758


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