I managed to sleep a few more hours after that. Get tired enough and no matter how fucked up my life is and I will always beat insomnia eventually. It’s not always convenient when I do, but it wasn’t like I was on a schedule right then.
“Hey,” Ziggy said when we were halfway through breakfast (lunch?) at the place he liked.
“Hey,” I said back. It might have been the first thing we said that day. “Sorry, has my head been up my ass?”
“Maybe? That’s what I’m trying to check.” Zig was sitting back, sipping coffee with his legs crossed and his wrist at an elegant angle. “I’ll try never to be the kind of lover who pesters you into talking when you don’t want to, but sometimes it’s helpful if I can make sure the reason you’re not talking isn’t me.”
“It’s not you,” I said, but then I mulled it over to make sure that was true. “It’s the lawsuits and the other bullshit hanging over us. It’s feeling like there’s nothing I can do about any of that. I hate feeling helpless.”
“There’s a difference between feeling helpless and being helpless,” Ziggy said softly.
“True,” I said with a nod. “But it feels like both might be true right now.” Was that why I was making us both wait another week before I told him I was going to do it?
“People strive so hard to feel like they’re the masters of their own destinies when it’s an illusion: they’re as much at the whim of fate as anyone else. I’m as guilty of it as anyone, but I try to let go of the things I can’t control.”
“Did you learn that from some guru in India?” I asked, thinking I was making a joke.
He was serious. “Well, yeah. And I’ve been reading the Upanishads and the philosophy that stemmed from it.”
“What I’m saying is…pick your battles, I guess.” He frowned slightly into his coffee, and I wondered which battles he was picking for himself right at that moment. Then he looked up at me. “You have to let the lawsuits play out, I think. There’s really nothing you can do, personally.”
“I know. I can’t help but feel like if I said the right thing to Digger at the right time,” or punched him in the face at the right time, “that the whole mess could’ve been avoided somehow.” It was a fantasy, I knew, like Superman or Batman could just swoop in and hammer the bad guy and it would be a happy ending from there. Life is never that simple, right?
Ziggy gave a teensy shrug of his shoulders. “Digger’s the stick in the middle of the logjam but that’s his doing, not yours.”
“I know.” I realized I wasn’t tasting what I was eating. I had an omelette in front of me but it was like eating cardboard. “I…” I paused to think about whether we’d done some drugs I didn’t remember. “Did we do acid or X and I don’t remember?”
“I’ve been told there’s a thing where, when you take certain kinds of psychedelics or psychoactive drugs, that you kind of use up all the happy chemicals in your brain and it takes a while to build them up again. And until you do your senses are dull and everything’s flat and gray. I think you’re supposed to take a B vitamin and eat some tuna fish?” I rubbed my forehead like that would help.
Ziggy was holding in a smirk with his fingers like a ladies fan.
“You just described what it’s like to need anti-depressants after being manic.” The smirk turned wry as he let his hand fall. “If all it took was a can of tuna I’d be golden.”
“Oh.” I very suddenly didn’t want to be sitting in a public restaurant because I wanted to hold his hand and feel him pressed against me like a cat. I very much didn’t want him to think I thought he was too crazy.
But he was much more concerned about my state of mind right then than his own. “I think maybe all the lawsuits and worry has made you depressed, Daron.”
I actually blurted out “But I’m with you!” before I put my hands on my forehead and blinked. “And everything’s…fine…” I trailed off, realizing…
“Like our relationship is the only thing that actually bums you out?”
“No!” I tried to deny but there was a huge part of my brain that had been wrapped around that idea. “Well, okay, I guess I kind of did hang a lot on that. Which is kind of nutty when you consider how much longer my relationship with, for example, Digger has been bringing me down.”
Ziggy shrugged. “I’m flattered?”
“See, this is why being obsessed with you wasn’t healthy,” I said. “Because things that weren’t even about you became about you. But when you weren’t around, there wasn’t reality to compare it to.”
“That makes sense.” He set his cup and saucer down and leaned forward. “I certainly prefer reality to obsession.”
I flailed like I usually did after some fake thing shoring up my worldview crumbled away. “Is it bad that I hoped us getting along would solve everything?”
“It’s dear, and I love you,” he said softly, his fingers twining around mine on the table. “I guarantee you everything in life is better when we’re getting along than when we aren’t. While I was in India…” He looked down at our hands instead of meeting my eyes and I watched his eyelashes flutter while he remembered. “I had these…painful…heartbreaking revelations…about you.”
I was definitely not going to finish eating that omelette now.
“It’s a cliche, isn’t it? There’s a song. About how you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Right?” He looked up and pinned me with those black-rimmed, black-souled eyes. “Is it too early to ask what we’ve got now?”
I shook my head. “It’s not too early. It’s not too late.”
His smirk returned. “Does that mean it’s the right time?”
My throat tightened to the point where I couldn’t answer. Where was this conversation going? How did we end up talking about this? Not that I didn’t want to: I desperately wanted to. Didn’t mean it was easy, though. I settled for nodding and that helped. I managed to say, “I feel like we’re still figuring out who we are when we’re with each other.”
He made a sound of agreement.
“I mean, I think I probably needed the time to figure out who I was just by myself. And I didn’t realize that when you’re in a relationship with someone you sort of stop being the person that you were and you become someone else. Or, I guess I should say, when I was in the relationship with Jonathan it changed me into someone I didn’t like being. I didn’t like being one half of Daron and Jonathan.”
Ziggy nodded knowingly.
“But then I got into that weird relationship with the guy in Spain.” Why hadn’t I thought about this before? It was like I hadn’t even processed any of what had happened in Spain. As if the second I returned to the States all I’d done was think about Ziggy. Back to what I had said about how being obsessed was unhealthy. “It was kind of a relationship/non-relationship where we had a lot of sex and…and played music together…and never talked about what we meant to each other.”
Putting it that way the parallel between Orlando and Ziggy was ridiculously blatant, and yet I’d never noticed it before. Ziggy didn’t miss the comparison, though. He raised an eyebrow. “And?”
“And I guess that says more about me than about you? Since I’m the common thread there? But that’s the thing, Zig. Maybe my relationship in Seville was super fucked up but actually there were a lot of ways it really worked. Not that I want to recreate it–I don’t! But if I learned one thing it was that if the thing that was wrong was that I was worrying myself to death then the only cure was, well, quit worrying.”
“Isn’t that what I was just saying? About not trying to control everything and letting go?”
“Yes. Yes, exactly.” It felt like my brain started to click, the wheels started to move, because that all made a kind of sense. “I guess what I’m saying is…if I could get out of my own way, and you could get out of your own way, could we have a really good relationship?”
“Well, the fact that we’ve stopped sabotaging each other is a pretty big step,” he said. “Or at least I’m trying really hard not to ambush you too much.” He cringed a little. “Janessa aside, I mean. But you know. If I felt like we were solid I probably wouldn’t even want to get into other relationships.”
“I probably wouldn’t, either?” Right? “I’m still trying to figure it out, you know. If I love you, that means I don’t want you to be lonely, but…but…” But I hadn’t told him I was going to take the gig yet. And who knew if that was going to be a permanent thing or if we’d decide we didn’t get along that well under pressure of a tour after all…
“It helps to hear you say that.” He squeezed my fingers. “We’ll keep working on figuring it out.”
We spent a lot of the rest of that day not saying much deep or important, I guess having gotten it out of the way first thing. We went to an art museum which was stimulating for our brains but like Ziggy said was good for hearing your own thoughts.
We walked from the museum to a hole-in-the-wall sushi bar for dinner. It was good. Tuna is brain food. We talked about what we had seen. Ziggy knew a lot about art but he never lectured me so much as he satisfied my curiosity about it.
We went to Limelight that night and hung out with Jordan and his crowd. Jordan told me he had an urgent business question to ask me and didn’t want to while we were drinking. So we said we’d meet for a drink the next day. I know that sounds like it doesn’t make sense, but here’s why it does: a business “drink” doesn’t have to be an actual drink, but it does have to happen in the mid-afternoon or later and it’s understood it won’t be as long as a meal like lunch or dinner. It’s less formal. And the thing is you can discuss your business before the alcohol kicks in if you feel that it’s important to have your head clear.
This business is full of things like that, that don’t make sense except that they do. I tried to do what Ziggy said and go with the flow.
(Couple of notes from my desk: posts will appear this week today, Thursday, and Bart’s story will go up Friday as a Christmas gift! And next week we’ll have two story posts and the year-end “annual report” on donations here at DGC! Meanwhile, check it out: the DGC Encyclopedia is online! Thus far Jeff and Ver had been doing some sections of logging characters and there are about 26 entries so far. If you want to re-read a section and make entries of characters or even places, let me know and I’ll tell you what’s involved. -ctan)