Okay, here’s a question for the guys in the audience who have sisters, especially little sisters. Pop quiz. What’s the right thing do when you accidentally walk in on her crying?
To be more specific, when you’ve climbed an outcropping of rock near the beach because you’re kind of feeling like you want to get away from everyone for a while, and it sure looks like she beat you to it? Everyone else was on the beach. I took a walk. On the other side of the rocks the sound of the waves was a lot quieter. I heard her before I quite realized what I was walking into.
She was sitting on a rock with her hands over her eyes. I had a moment where I thought I should just sneak away. I mean, if that had been me sitting there, I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to see me like that. And I thought Courtney was probably the same.
But at the same time, there’s a level on which you aren’t thinking logically. You just feel: crap my sister’s crying I have to do something about it.
At least, that’s how I felt. I don’t know why. I’d never been particularly protective of her, you know?
Just because I felt that way didn’t mean I knew what to say, though. So I stood there, paralyzed, trying to figure out what I should say or if I should sneak away and try to figure out later if there was something bothering her. She looked up before I could move, and since that meant sneaking off was definitely only an option if I was a total heel, I went and patted her shoulder and said, “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, nothing.” She snorted loudly and blew her nose into a tissue.
“It doesn’t look like nothing…”
“I know. It’s not as bad as it looks, though. Hormones. I’m just lonely, that’s all.”
I sat down on the rock next to her.
“And I got myself all upset thinking how can you be lonely when you’re here with all these awesome people? And so then I was mad at myself for being lonely, and that was the last straw.” She blotted her eyes with the back of her hand. “It’s okay now. I feel better.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“It’s not your fault.”
“Well, it kind of is, isn’t it? I mean, without me you wouldn’t have dragged yourself out here.”
“Daron. While that is true, it’s also true that I basically invited myself along on your tour bus. You’re not the only one responsible for me being here.”
“Okay. Well, I wish I could do something.”
“It’s not your fault everyone’s older than me. Except Lacey. Who is from another planet.”
“Oh man, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that.”
She gave a little snort-laugh and had to blow her nose again. “She’s a trip. I think Michelle’s going to kill her if she opens her mouth one more time about her relationship with Bart.”
“Wait, Michelle? Michelle gets along with everyone.”
“I calls ’em like I sees ’em,” Courtney said.
“Hey, does this mean I’m not the only person she over-analyzes?”
“Oh, hell no. We’ve all had the Lacey treatment this weekend.”
“Really. Huh. So what’s she think’s wrong with you?”
“Where to start? First of all, the reason I’m so lonely is because I don’t have a steady boyfriend, and the reason I don’t have that is because I have to stop pretending I’m bisexual just because it’s cool.” She snorted again, and ended up coughing before she pulled another tissue from her shorts pocket and blew her nose much harder. “Should I go on?”
“Lacey thinks you’re pretending to be bi?”
“I’m pretty sure Lacey thinks all bisexuals are pretending. But how about you? What’s wrong with you according to Doctor Lacey?”
“What isn’t wrong with me, according to Doctor Lacey? I swear it’s something new every day.”
“Ha. It’s too bad Ziggy isn’t here. He’d play with her mind.”
She’d said it in an offhand way, and I tried to answer as casually as possible. “Yeah.” But I felt his absence keenly right then. “She’s off to a shoot on Tuesday anyway,” I added. “Isn’t she?”
“Something like that.” She stood and stretched. “Are we going shopping for your furniture when we get back to town?”
“I guess so.” I shrugged.
“Jeez, don’t get over-excited about it.” I stood, too. “If you start school soon, I’m sure you’ll make some friends your own age.”
She waved her hand as we started back in the direction I’d come. “Don’t worry about it. I don’t really want to be weighed down by a relationship right now anyway.”
“Well, but maybe the thing is to find a relationship that doesn’t weigh you down. Something that fits. Something that doesn’t mean everything has to turn upside down for you to be together.”
“That’s a nice fantasy,” she said. “Well, I dunno. Maybe that works for gay men. With heterosexual relationships, the girl always has to cater to the guy.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah. At least with lesbian relationships it’s a little more even.”
“Is that why you’re bisexual?”
“I don’t think there’s a ‘why.’ I think it just is.”
“Okay. I didn’t want to assume just because I can’t get my relationship needs figured out or controlled that no one else could either.”
She chuckled. “You’re a weirdo, you know that?”
“So I’ve been told.” We were on a path of sand through the sea grass. “I want you to be happy.”
“I want us both to be happy,” she said.
“What about the rest of the family?”
“Ah, fuck them,” she joked as she tossed her damp tissues into a trash can at the end of the path.
We wandered up the next path, though, instead of going straight down to the beach. “I was lonely a lot when I was your age,” I said, feeling kind of silly since it wasn’t that long ago. “But then again I was in the closet and I was in denial.”
“Well.” She shrugged. “Same result, though. I wonder if I at least had a fuckbuddy if that might take the pressure off.”
“I’m not supposed to be comfortable hearing my little sister say things like that, am I?”
“Are you comfortable with it?”
“Not in the slightest.”
“Damn. And I was about to be proud of you for being so supportive and open-minded.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I would support you having… whatever kind of thing you wanted to. It’s talking about it that I’m not comfortable with.”
“Ahhh, okay. I probably better not bring up the fact that Colin would be ideal in some ways.”
“Oh, hell no…”
“Hey, hey, hey, I know the rules. He’s not ideal because A) you’ve already slept with him, and B) we’re housemates and that can be too close. Otherwise, though, damn, he’s my type, and I like older guys who–”
“La la la can’t hear you!”
She giggled. “I’m totally baiting you. Sorry, can’t help it. You’re so easy.”
“No, seriously, if I get a thing going it has to be with someone where I can go to their place. Between you and Chris and Colin it’s like I have not one big brother but three in the house.” She shook her head. “If I get into Emerson, maybe I should see about getting into the dorm, too.”
“I thought you wanted to stay in Allston and get Digger to pay me rent.”
“That’s a possibility, too, I guess. But one thing at a time.”
The next day me, Bart, Courtney, and Carynne took a car to the local renaissance faire, which had opened over the weekend. It was run by a concert promoter that Carynne’s old boss knew, so she had comp passes for us. She told us the guy was good friends with Aerosmith and so we might see Steven Tyler walking around. I don’t think they were there that day, but no one really paid any attention to us, either. I guess if they were blase about Steven Tyler and Joe Perry in those parts, we were small potatoes.
At one point Bart and I were standing under a tree while the women were in line for food, and we were watching two buskers, one with a guitar and the other with a tin whistle. They were rocking some wild Irish tune that they did faster and faster each round. When they were done, people around clapped and one or two put a dollar into the actual hat lying on the ground in front of them. Bart nudged me and said, “There but for the grace.”
“That could totally have been us if just a few things had been different.”
“Yeah, I suppose.” I went and put a fiver into the hat. That’s the thing. Everything could have always been different in life. But it’s the things that you can make different in the future that should matter the most.
We ended up stopping at Jordan’s Furniture on the way back from the Cape on Labor Day, since it was on the way, and Courtney picked out stuff for me and arranged to have it delivered.
I wondered if picking a therapist was going to be as easy. I decided it would have to wait until after I’d figured out whether I was going to be in LA for the next six months or not.