969. All I Need Is You

(Here’s the chapter that should have been up yesterday! -ctan)

I want to take a moment to try to express how important Ziggy was to me at that moment in time. The night before, after I’d seen Claire to bed, he and I had cuddled by the tree while Courtney set up a spot for herself to sleep.

“This is weird,” I said.

“What’s weird?” He kissed me on the jaw.

“That this feels almost normal. Like… you and me, I mean, sitting here.”

He chuckled. “You mean like your family’s getting used to us being a thing?”

“Yeah, I guess that’s it.”

“Does that mean you’re finally getting used to us being a thing?”

My turn to chuckle. “I think I’ve been settling into that for a while, don’t you think? Our little… test nest in Boston.”

“Test Nest, I like that.” He snuggled against me.

Thinking about our place in Boston, in particular thinking about the piano there, I had a sudden realization that I had slacked off on my exercises completely. How many weeks had we been here now? Two? Three? I wasn’t doing my hand therapy or my vocal work. It was like I forgot. I guess I did forget. How could I forget that?

“Let’s go back to the hotel and get some sleep,” I said.

He could tell I was restless. Christmas Eve is always a restless night but I the more I thought about things, the worse it got. On the drive back the motel I said, “Remind me what we’re doing here again?”

“Making sure you don’t regret not being here for the rest of your life?”

“Right.” I sighed. “My mother is not your mother, though.”

“And you’re not me. Did she say something to you tonight? Something you want to process?”

I thought about that. “She said she was afraid of dying alone.”

“Oh jeez. She’s getting direct, isn’t she?”

“Yeah, kind of surprising. But I guess whatever works.” I shivered in the weak heat from the rental car. There would be frost tonight, just barely. “She’s not flinching away from the idea of death and I guess because of that, neither am I. It’s just weird to feel like she seems to like me. She never liked me before.”

“You hadn’t become you yet.”

“I don’t think that’s it, but whatever.” We pulled into the motel and hurried into our room, cranking up the heater under the window. “I am really worried about what’s going to happen after this, though.”

“What do you mean?”

I lay my jacket onto the shoulders of the desk chair. “You know what I mean. Career, contract, future, lawsuits, all of it. It’s all hanging and I just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

And he could have gone down a rabbit hole with me right then, rehashing everything and making none of it better. But he didn’t. He just wrapped his arms around me from behind, pressing his cheek to my spine, and said, “What matters is that we’ll figure it out together. One thing at a time. Right now all we have to figure out is how to get through Christmas Day. On the 26th we can talk about when you should meet with lawyers or A&R reps or whoever. But not tonight. And not tomorrow.”

He was right. That was exactly what I needed to hear. I still couldn’t completely let it go, though. “It’s not just me. I’m really concerned about BNC dragging their feet on your album release domestically.”

“Shush. You know what? Maybe they missed their window on it. Maybe they punt. Maybe they send me back to Jordan for another musical makeover. Who knows. I’m not worrying about that right now.”

The thought of Jordan was comforting. In my mind I was contrasting Thanksgiving at his place with what Christmas was going to be like here. The thought that if we really had to we could get up and leave was comforting. That if the anxiety and strife and emotional blackmail and whatever else of my family was worse than music industry bullshit, we could always flee back to New York. Or to our nest in Boston. Neither of us was on the verge of having to work two night jobs at K-Mart to keep a roof over our heads or food on the table. That in itself was a gift.

And then, you know, Christmas morning didn’t turn out so bad. I hang onto that thought sometimes. Things aren’t always as bad as you expect. It’s the things you don’t expect that you can’t be ready for.


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