The next day I slept in, which was beginning to feel like a regular occurrence. I had slept even better than the night before, and I didn’t wake up already worrying about something. Amazing. That wall between me and Colin had been more of a weight than I realized. I made a note to talk to my therapist about that.
And I had that lingering feeling of virtuousness I associated–as Ziggy had pointed out–with Catholic guilt. The whole “I feel superior because I didn’t give into temptation” thing. When you think about it, it’s kind of fucked up. If something is the right thing to do–or not do–you should feel good because of that, not because now you get to go around with a golden halo on your head. You still don’t shit gold, you know what I mean?
Anyway. Sleeping in without being haunted by insomnia was great. I then lay there in bed staring at the eggshell colored ceiling thinking about my plan for the day. Vocal exercises, finger exercises… and the rest was wide open. I stretched and felt a slight twinge in my palm and wrist but otherwise I wasn’t in pain, physically, mentally, or emotionally, for the first time I could remember in a while.
You know what? I thought to myself. Being substance-free probably helps that. I hadn’t taken a Flexeril in over a month, and I hadn’t had an alcoholic drink in…
Oh, wait. I’d had a glass of red wine the night before. Hadn’t even thought about it. Hadn’t really felt it, either, which was why it hadn’t registered. I felt a slight pang of guilt at how bad I was at being sober and then decided that was bullshit. That whole virtuous superiority thing on one extreme and the whole “you’re absolute shit if you aren’t 100% pure” on the other extreme suddenly seemed very obviously a toxic dynamic designed to rip people to shreds. No wonder people would binge when they’d slip..? It was the emotional equivalent of waterboarding. Cults use that kind of technique to break people down and make them believe whatever they want.
Conformity is a cult, though. Remember that.
Ziggy bounced back into the room. He’d clearly already had coffee. He kissed me on the cheek. “Be back later.”
“Got an appointment with a personal trainer. If I let myself go any more I’m going to regret it extremely.” He kissed me again and out he went.
The apartment was quiet. The downstairs neighbors were out during the day. I figured I should put some music on. There was a small, old television in the living room but it wasn’t hooked up to cable and the broadcast channels it got were dicey. Two or three came in okay, and the rest were full of snow and static. We’d barely turned it on since we’d been there (and I got the impression the usual occupants of the house didn’t use it much, either).
I made myself some toast and coffee and then sat down on the couch to eat/drink.
The yellow legal pad that Colin had left there last night had some words on it. I focused blearily on it. That looked like Ziggy’s handwriting, blocks of text that could have been stanzas of song lyrics.
I picked up the pad and tried to read the words. In among the scribbles that were crossed out were some words we’d said to each other a couple nights ago, after the fight, after we were making it up to each other in the bedroom:
How do you want it
How do I want you
How do you want me
–to do you
How do you want me
on top or underneath
Do you want me to change
my feathers or my teeth
How do I want you
let me count the ways
exactly as you are
to the end of our days
There were lots of cross-outs and question marks and it looked like maybe there were two or three different song ideas forming up based on similar wordplay.
In a circle in the margin were words very similar to ones I’d spoken to him: “I want you, not the person I want you to be.”
Similar, and what he’d written would work better for a song, whereas what I’d actually said was “it’s you I’m in love with, not the person I wish you were.” Jonathan had tried to change me for my own good, to mold me into a functional, upstanding boyfriend according to the model of gay society he knew. And I’d hated it.
I didn’t want to do that to Ziggy–and I don’t think Ziggy would have let me, anyway. I wrote in another circle in the margin another thing I’d said to him: “It’s not you I want to change, just our relationship.” That also didn’t roll off the tongue well for lyrics, but the core idea might make a good emotional hook for a song…
My stomach did a little flip of excitement, a sudden jolt of adrenaline hit me. Hey. That was almost like getting an idea for a song. Something I hadn’t felt in months. God.
I had to put the paper down and take a couple of deep breaths. Whew. Just that little moment of inspiration had felt like a peak on a rollercoaster and I jumped off quickly before the plunge. Not ready for it. Just not ready for it. Somehow. Not sure why…
And then another little jolt of panic hit me as I heard Ziggy’s key flipping the deadbolt. Oh shit, was I even supposed to see that rough draft? Was he going to be upset that I had? I couldn’t just pretend I hadn’t seen it–I’d written on it. What if he hadn’t meant to leave it out like this? Sure, I had seen lots of his lyric drafts before. But this was… really deep personal stuff. I mean, yeah, all our songs come from our experiences somehow but these were actually words I’d said to him in an intimate moment–as intimate as it gets…
And he he looked upset. Stricken, even. I stared back, feeling just as stricken and we hadn’t even exchanged a word yet.
Ziggy hadn’t even noticed the notepad, though. He swallowed hard and then announced, “Freddie Mercury’s dead.”
(Rest in peace, Freddie.)