Carynne picked me up at the airport and took me straight to a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown. I went through the motions of talking to her, telling her about some of the parties in LA, and about Remo’s house–though she’d been there before, she reminded me. More times than me, in fact. I forget how long everyone’s known each other. I almost forget sometimes that it was through Remo I met her in the first place. I almost forget sometimes that I was scared to death of being alone in a room with her.
Anyway, like I said, I went through the motions of talking while we ate. Then I looked around. “We’ve been here before, haven’t we?”
“Yeah. This is where I took you the night of the Jingle Bell show.”
“Ahhh.” I rubbed my face. “I seem to recall I felt pretty crappy that night.”
“I think you felt a little better after eating here.”
“I think I felt a little better after talking to you.”
“Did you? I think that was the night you told me about you and Ziggy.”
“That was the night I convinced you to be our road manager.”
“Yeah, it was.” She pushed what was left of the thick, white rice soup around in the bottom of her bowl. “So. He’s in India.”
“At least, that’s what we’ve been told.” I scraped the last of my own soup onto the ceramic spoon and licked it clean. “He might as well have said ‘I’m going to Mars,’ as far as I’m concerned.” I dropped the empty spoon into the bowl and felt my brain trying to shut off. Click, click, click, but my eyes stayed open, staring at the velvet Buddha on the wall. Hey, Buddha, can you spare a dime? No? How about you watch over Ziggy, then, hm? He’s in your world now, instead of mine, right? Is there some special way I’m supposed to pray to you or is this good enough?
I blinked. “Uh, sorry. I was just, um, never mind…”
“You’re sure you don’t need drug rehab yourself?”
“I’m sure. I’m not on anything. Those painkillers he got to liking so much? By the end I was giving him mine. Shit, does that mean it’s my fault?”
She shook her head. “You know what? I think you keep trying to blame this on yourself, but I really think this is an extreme case of Ziggy really, really, really needing to slip the leash for a while. I mean, that’s his nature already. The worst part of touring, far as he’s concerned, is that someone else dictates what the hell you do every minute of the day.”
“He told you this?”
“Not in so many words, but come on, think about him.”
“Yeah, I see what you mean.”
“The more pinned down and constrained he is, the more desperate he gets to express himself creatively or stretch his wings. So he writes, he draws, he decorates your clothes…”
“And stuffed animals…”
“Yeah. And now he’s just been through thirty days of the most intense controlled environment you can get short of prison. I can’t say I’m totally surprised at him doing something like this.”
“Huh, when you say that, I can almost believe maybe it had nothing to do with me.”
“Would it hurt you if it didn’t?”
I froze, trying not to think that, but of course that was one of the thoughts that had been swallowing me like a shark from the deep every time I considered it. I closed my eyes but I’m sure she saw the depths of the pain before I did.
Her voice was soft. “I admit… I thought… I thought you guys were starting to get along again, by the end of the trip there.”
My voice was so soft maybe I didn’t even speak. Maybe I just nodded. But I think I said, “I thought so, too,” or at least tried to.
She did that thing where she sat silently, making me want to fill the silence with words.
“It’s like time hasn’t moved forward for me since just after Madison Square Garden, really,” I said. I put the heels of my hands over my eyes and I could still see him, in a spotlight at center stage, both arms raised…
“From the moment he fell?”
“No. No, just…” I took a long, slow breath, trying to be as Zen as I could about it. It didn’t work. I looked at her. “I fell in love with him all over again in New York. I mean, okay, that sounds so stupid I’m probably lying to myself with it. Maybe I never stopped. But between MSG and soundcheck the next day, I just… I just…”
It was sheer force of will that kept me from breaking down and sobbing at the table. That and the memory of how sore and in pain I’d been after all the crying I’d done while driving from Betty Ford back to Laurel Canyon. Let’s not do that again.
It helped that I’d just eaten a good meal and Carynne was there. She was looking at me with pretty much the expression she would have if I bawled my eyes out, so I knew she knew what was going on inside me. She put a hand on mine and my forearm was so tense it shook.
Buddha. Zen. Take a deep breath, Daron. Let it out slowly. “Whatever. I finally quit fooling myself and went head over heels that night, and before I could tell him, bam, he’s in the psych ward, and time hasn’t moved forward for me since that day, Car’. It’s like the farther away from that moment we get, the less of a grip on reality I’ve got. It’s like a science fiction movie where the farther I get as a time traveler from my own time the weaker I am or something.”
She squeezed my fingers. “You know, a lot of guys feel like they lose their purpose in life when they get off the road. Try to remember that.”
“But yeah, it makes sense you feel that way. But it won’t be forever, Daron. I know it feels like it, but he’s going to come back. You’ll get your say eventually.”
“If that’s true, then maybe for once I ought to figure out what I want to say.”
“What do you want to say?”
“I don’t know. That’s why I have to figure it out.” I sighed. “In other news, Jonathan wants me to move in with him.”
“He wants to get a place in West Hollywood and… and shack up. He keeps saying no strings attached, but you know, that’s kind of a serious thing, isn’t it? I mean, I’d hate to go through the guilt trip of leaving him there with double rent if I couldn’t hack it, but I don’t know. The whole thing sounds intimidating to me.”
“Well, I am the last person to ask for advice about co-habitation. I’ve ended up hating all my roommates and each of the boyfriends I’ve tried to live with.”
“Really. The guys I broke up with who I didn’t live with? Still friends. I dunno. When you live with people you really find out what you hate about them.”
“You just lived with me and the guys for two months,” I pointed out.
“And I learned I didn’t hate any of you,” she said. “Match made in heaven, by music industry standards, eh?”
That made me chuckle a little. “Okay, then I guess you can’t give me advice about Christian, then?”
“Oh, sure I can, because that’s band stuff as much as roommate stuff. Come on. I’ll drive you home and we can talk about it on the way.”
(By the way, this probably isn’t the “Fish” you think it is…)