I’m not going to lie. Healing was a slow process.
It always is.
Carynne found us a condo sublet off Comm. Ave. between Mass. Ave. and Boston Common, which put it about four blocks from Bart’s place and maybe ten blocks to the Tower Records where I used to work. The condo belonged to an art history professor at B.U. who was doing a sabbatical in Italy for a year. The furniture was modernist and the paintings on the walls were not.
The piano tuner left the hour before we arrived. I hadn’t brought much with me, not much more than I’d bring on tour, really. Two guitars, a duffel of clothes, and a backpack of everything else. Carynne was there to hand us the keys.
I stood in the living room talking to her about my upcoming appointments while Ziggy went into the kitchen.
I heard my name. “Daron.” Like he’d seen a mouse and was afraid to move.
I stuck my head in. “What is it?”
He was pointing at what took up most of the counter.
“Oh, that’s almost exactly like Jordan’s.” An Italian espresso machine. “Which means he can probably tell us how to make it work.”
“Jordan is good at that.” Ziggy snorted. He sidled next to me and put an arm around me. “The burning question in my mind, though… You know what it is.”
I stared at the coffee machine. “Um, where’s the milk and sugar?”
He laughed a throaty laugh and Carynne said, “Is that what the kids are calling it these days?
Ha, okay. I leaned against Ziggy slightly. “You two are always thinking about sex.”
He kissed me chastely on the hair. “When you’re feeling well, so are you. It’s how I know you’re not yourself, yet.”
I didn’t even blush. It seemed accurate.
At any rate, we went to check out the bedroom. Ziggy’s burning question–about what kind of bed we would find–was answered as he took a flying leap and launched himself onto it. He bounced once and then settled on a king size bed quite a bit taller than we were used to, so the flying leap was necessary. It was kind of like a four-poster bed except the four posts were slender rods of cast iron, topped with swirled shapes and arched over as if intended to hold a canopy, or maybe to grow grape vines on…?
Ziggy rolled over onto his back and raised his head. “Acceptable. Join me?”
“One sec.” I undid the laces on my high tops and took them off. (Ziggy had kicked his boots off by the front door.) I climbed somewhat more gingerly onto the bed. “Jeez. You could break your neck falling out of this one.”
“That’s why we’re supposed to sleep in the middle,” he said, pulling me in to snuggle.
“I thought you’d approve,” Carynne said. I hadn’t realized she’d polled Ziggy on what he was looking for in an apartment, too. But it made sense that she had. “If you guys don’t need anything else, I’ll get out of your hair.”
After she was gone I got under the covers and burrowed in next to Ziggy and hibernated for a little while. The bedclothes smelled pleasant but very different from the way a bed smells in a hotel. This had a faint but distinct scent that was probably related to the absent professor. Her perfume or shampoo, her laundry detergent, her cat? I could only guess.
Once upon a time, it would have taken only seconds after the door closed behind Carynne for Ziggy and I to start mauling each other. In an erotic way, I mean. Now I wasn’t sure about how I felt about the fact that didn’t seem to be the case now. I decided saying something about it was the best way to try to figure out my feelings. So I said what I thought. “Once upon a time, the second the door closed behind her–”
“We’d have been all over each other?”
“You doing okay?” I couldn’t see him because we were in the cave under the covers and it was pitch dark, but I could hear him and feel his heartbeat under my palm through his shirt.
“I think so. I don’t know. It’s like I’m trying to have a feeling but I’m not firing on all cylinders.”
“That’s okay.” His hand closed over mine. My good one. “Can I tell you something?”
“I’m not worried about your relationship with me right now. I know you’re going through some stuff that’s going to change you, but I don’t think it’s going to change us.”
“It took me a while to figure out that part of what was fucked up between us in the past wasn’t your relationship with me, it was your relationship with sex itself.”
“Yeah, that makes sense.”
“And your relationship with yourself in general. It’s like the song says. You had to learn to love yourself before you could love me.”
“Which song says that?”
“I think I wrote it in ‘A Little More.'”
“I think I wrote it in ‘Inside, Outside.”
He chuckled. “Great minds think alike. Which probably means Paul Fucking McCartney wrote it first.”
“Probably.” I buried my nose in Ziggy’s shirt. “I have to see a shrink tomorrow.”
“Shrink first, hand therapist second?”
“Yeah, the hand therapist didn’t have an opening until Thursday, unless I wanted to go out to Woburn. Hey, your stomach is growling.”
“I think your sister and Carynne went grocery shopping for us.”
“Pretty sure they did. Yesterday, before our train came in.”
So we got up to explore what food there was, as well as the rest of the apartment. The professor had a lot of books and CDs, all neatly shelved in the living room. By the time we were done having a snack Ziggy had resolved to read as many of the books as possible and I’d resolved to try to listen to as many of the CDs as possible. Ziggy had brought no books with him, and I’d brought no CDs, so this made sense. It was like exploring the inside of someone’s head who wasn’t there.
That first day in the new apartment I sat down and did my vocal exercises, and Ziggy did them with me. My voice kept faltering, not so much because of my throat being messed up but because I was too tired to keep my breath going. It was like sitting up straight was exhausting me. But I got through it, and being one for one let me believe I was about to reel off a streak of, you know, a month without missing a day or something like that.
Ziggy’s right. No matter how down I get, under it all, I’m still an optimist. Still a believer.
Um, maybe I should tell you about the shrink I saw next time.
(Some mellow British R&B for a mellow post. Enjoy it while it lasts, and Happy early Valenine’s Day to you all! And happy Mardi Gras, too. -d)