So here’s when I confess that I was stupid. Not that I did something stupid, because it was what I didn’t do that was the proof of just how dumb I was. And I don’t mean stubborn or reckless. I mean I made a dumb mistake, really. Okay, actually, this explanation will make a lot more sense later, but right now, just hear my mea culpa, because that’s how much I need to say it.
One thing, of course, that you might have thought I did right–or got incredibly lucky with–was the fact that I had surrounded myself with supportive people. I had really not thought of anyone in terms of a “support system” but when therapists say those words I think they probably mean something like these folks.
I was a little surprised that Bart and Carynne and Christian wanted to drive down to pick me up. I assured them I would come straight home on the train the next day, but they insisted. My feeling at the time was that they wanted to have a band meeting even more urgently than I did. It sunk after they arrived that maybe it was just that they were worried about me. I half expected when they pulled up they were going to tell me they had Colin and Courtney hidden there somewhere, too. (They’d left them at home.)
We all ate together, all of them and me and Sarah–and Jonathan, I now remember–and then we got on the road. And had basically a four-hour long band meeting with occasional breaks for pit stops. Bart did most of the driving. Around the time we ran out of things to say, when we were maybe twenty miles from home, we ran into traffic on the Mass Pike. I ended up falling asleep while we were still inching along in the traffic jam.
When I woke up I was curled into a ball on my side with my face wedged against Christian’s leg. He had a hand on my shoulder. He was rubbing it the way you rub something to make it stop hurting. I kept my eyes closed for a little while, wondering if he even realized he was doing it and if he’d be embarrassed if he did. But I was getting a crick in my neck.
I shifted and sat up and saw we were pulling into the driveway of our own house. Bart and Carynne didn’t linger, saying subdued goodbyes.
Once we were inside Chris said to me, “I don’t know if you can appreciate this, but I sure do. You’re the spark. The soul. The heart. Of the band, I mean.”
“Or I was,” I couldn’t help saying.
He nodded. The feathered part of his hair was extra fluffy that day. “I know it’s not that easy. It’s hard. It’s the hardest thing and the most necessary thing but at the same time it’s the thing that has no money value, because you can’t put a price on it.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying thank you. You didn’t just put the wind in the sails, you are the sails. I’m just a deck hand. I’m not going anywhere without you.”
“And Ziggy and–”
“Ziggy’s getting the money because he’s the figurehead. He’s the marketable piece. He’s the ship. Or maybe he’s the racehorse, okay? But you’re the jockey. Fuck, I am such a lame-ass when it comes to analogies.”
That made us both laugh.
“Anyway. I’m saying it sucks but I appreciate it. I mean I suppose I will grudgingly thank that dumbass if I ever see him again for paying off the bills, but I have a lot more to say to you and you mean a lot more to me. Basically.”
“Thanks, brother,” I said, and I meant it. At that point we spontaneously clasped fists and patted each other on the back with our free hands. “So what do you think? Should we keep playing around with the cello and keyboard stuff?”
He shrugged. “Might as well. You got something better to do?”
“Not at the moment.”
“Fine. I’ll tell Bart tomorrow?”
I guess the other thing to point out about the conversation with Christian, other than that I felt we’d very definitely repaired whatever had been broken between us, is that he clearly saw the whole thing as a breakup. A band breakup and a split between me and Ziggy. Everyone saw it that way. Like the final nail in a coffin or something.
The thing is, they hadn’t been there when I’d spent however many days attached to Ziggy’s hip. They couldn’t know how attached to him I still felt, or what kind of war went on in my mind when things were quiet. And I couldn’t really tell them. Obviously they knew I was in pain: they assumed I would be. But part of me felt like if I talked about how much I missed him or how I wished things were different, I’d be sort of betraying their support of me. Does that make sense? They had my back. I didn’t want to make it sound like I wanted to give Ziggy another chance to stab me in it.
But damn. The first thing I did when I went upstairs to lie down after the drive was wish that he was there.
You’re just having trouble letting go, I told myself. Artie had even said it was hard to let go. This is normal, right?
Maybe only if you’ve entwined your entire creative life and your entire emotional life with a person who was fine to drive a $5 million wedge between you. Yeah. Those were the kind of toxic thoughts chattering in my brain.
Rehearsal is pretty much what saved me. I mean, I’m never at my best when I don’t have something to do, but this would have been a special rock-bottom example.
There was still a lot of lying awake at night trying to figure things out. Feeling like I had somehow traded a repaired bond with Christian with a broken one with Ziggy. Feeling like that was a stupid thought. Feeling like feeling stupid was stupid. Et cetera.
This time when Remo called and asked if I wanted to house-sit for a couple of months, I said yes without hesitation. Knowing that I’m not a big fan of Los Angeles, you might wonder why. Do I have to tell you where Ziggy went?
So yeah, I told Remo I’d come to Los Angeles.
And then I asked if he could recommend a shrink in the area.