When I woke up in Ziggy’s bed the next morning, he wasn’t there. I was a little disoriented. I knew where I was, and I knew the general situation: I was in New York instead of Tennessee because… of stuff.
But I couldn’t remember what I had to do that day. Carynne had probably told me and I had probably forgotten. I just had this wrenching feeling of nothing being normal, though.
I decided a shower was probably a good preparation for whatever was going to happen and maybe while I was standing there in the water I’d remember.
What I remembered was that yesterday a lawyer for WTA treated me like I was the opposition. The water coming out of the showerhead might as well have turned ice cold. Jeezus. What was I going to do if the agency decided I was on Digger’s side?
I got out of the water and shut it off, breathing hard. I wrapped a towel around my shoulders and sat on the toilet lid. I was shivering. I put the towel over my head and worked on not hyperventilating. In my mind I could remember that last night Ziggy and I had meditated ourselves into a zen-like state of centered calm, but now I couldn’t actually remember what that felt like.
Existing is so weird, I thought. Stuff like having arms and legs, for example, and breathing, and feeling emotions… how is it all connected? Life as a mammal, an organic being, it’s all so… complicated, and yet it is what it is. It just is. You just are.
“Daron?” That was Ziggy.
“In here.” I stood up and acted like I was in the middle of drying off and not having either a panic attack or an existential crisis. Crisis was too strong a word for it, really. And it wasn’t really a panic attack, either, so much as it was a slap upside the head. I wrapped the towel around my waist and stuck my head out.
He was setting a to-go cup of coffee and a paper bag on the kitchenette counter. “I brought you something.”
“Oh, is that for me?”
He came over to greet me, sliding his hands over my still damp skin to pull my hips close and kiss me. “Yes. From the place.”
He meant from the cafe he liked and where they liked him. “Maybe some caffeine will get my brain in gear. Did you happen to get some milk?”
“They made it with heavy cream for you, dear one.” He grinned and skipped away from me. “I think they like you even better than me. They’re always asking how you’re doing and when I’m bringing you in next.”
The coffee was, in fact, made exactly the way I like it. “They’re nice there.” The coffee made me feel better. Or maybe it was knowing that the cafe hadn’t changed that helped mitigate that feeling that nothing was ever going to be the same now that Jordan was gone.
Inside the bag was a chocolate chip muffin and a chocolate croissant and I shivered as I realized my brain had automatically gone into thinking I should save the muffin for my mother. Who wasn’t here.
And who might not be around for much longer.
Existence is weird. I’m really not very good at it.
Ziggy was changing his clothes, stripping out of everything while he pawed through his wardrobe. “I’ve got an appearance to make up at the Megastar offices.”
“Are those the same as the BNC offices?”
“You know, I’m honestly not sure. After the merger I don’t know which company kept their digs.” He put on a pair of deep purple leggings and pulled a pair of artfully ragged jeans on over them. The tattoo on the back of his neck seemed very stark against his skin.
I left the muffin and the coffee and put my arms around him so I could put my lips against his skin. I kissed his tattoo and he arched against me like a cat.
“I’ve been thinking about another one,” he said.
“You mean the angel wings? We talked about that, didn’t we? Or did I imagine that.” I grazed the top of his bare shoulder with my teeth.
“We did talk about it. You had a dream about it, didn’t you? But I was thinking about something else.”
“Are you going to tell me what it is?”
“I’ll tell you later,” he said with a laugh as he pulled away and ducked into the bathroom.
“Typical.” I had to laugh a little, too. Some things didn’t change. “So you’re going to a meeting. Do you by any chance recall where I’m going today?”
“Why don’t you call your own manager, dear one?”
Right. I checked my pager first of all to make sure she hadn’t been trying to call me, and then I tried her apartment number.
She picked up right away. and said in an exagerratedly nasal voice: “Dial-a-Whore. To be connected, press one for male, two for female.”
“You got caller ID, didn’t you.”
“You know it. What’s up, D?”
“I’m about to get dressed and it would help if I knew what I was doing today.”
“Why? You’re going to wear a T-shirt and jeans no matter what I say.”
“Truth. But whether the T-shirt has obscenities on it or not might depend.”
She laughed. “If I say we’re meeting another lawyer will that mean yes or no?”
“Oh, if we’re meeting another lawyer I’m definitely wearing one that says ‘Fuck You’ on it.”
“You have a shirt that says ‘Fuck You’ on it?”
“No, but I’ll make one. Hurry up, I’m getting chilly.”
Her laughter redoubled. “Oh lord. Are you standing there naked?”
“Wearing a towel,” I said with fake indignation.
“Pardon me while I fan myself.”
I let the towel drop and wondered if she heard it. “Well? Are we going to meet another lawyer?”
“Dammit.” I sat on the edge of the bed and folded the comforter over my legs. I wasn’t kidding about getting chilly. “I was only joking.”
“Sadly, I’m not. Feinblum isn’t licensed to practice in California, so we’re meeting another one. Feinblum’s in town and we’re all getting together. Did I really not tell you this yesterday?”
“Maybe you did and I blocked it out of my mind. Or maybe we both got distracted by talking about other stuff.”
“Yeah, could be. Anyway, should I just give you the address or do you want me to come down there and get you?”
“Just give me the address. I can be a responsible adult.” Even if I wanted to ball up in bed like a sick child.
And even if what I did, after I got off the phone, was get Ziggy to show me where he kept the permanent markers, and make myself a T-shirt that said “Fuck You” on it.
(Hello from Portland, Oregon! I’m here for the massive annual writing conference known as AWP, to speak on a panel with Erica Jong and a few other writers about “hybrid sex writing” but I think most of what I’m planning to do while in town is work on DGC while I’m in various tea/coffee shops… -ctan)