All in all, I didn’t have that much stuff to move out of the sublet: one duffel of clothes and one box of miscellaneous things that had accumulated during the months we were there. In it were some CDs, a couple of books and magazines, a VHS tape Colin had left behind, a pasta drainer, the sheet music Priss had made me copy, a box of rubber bands. Not a lot.
Oh, and a guitar.
As I did a last sweep of the living room, Ziggy was writing something on a notepad on the coffee table. Then he picked up his own bag of miscellaneous items and slid a hardcover book onto the shelf.
“Did you just leave a note in that book?” I asked.
“I did.” He shouldered the bag and opened the door into the stairwell for us to exit.
I knew I wasn’t going to get an explanation unless I asked. “What did it say?”
“It was a thank you for letting me read their books.” He shrugged.
Why he didn’t leave the note on the table instead of inside a book where they weren’t going to find it for years, if ever, I don’t know. Ziggy works in mysterious ways.
When we got back to Allston, Court and Claire were sitting in the living room, apparently finishing up eating brunch. From the sound of the conversation going on in the kitchen, it seemed that Colin and Christian had cooked it. They sounded on the verge of starting a water fight during the washing up process. I stayed out of it and concentrated on moving my things up to my room.
Ziggy followed. “Can I borrow your phone?”
“Thanks.” He sat on my low bed and dialed a series of numbers, then hung up. He’d paged someone. Less than a minute later, it rang and he picked it up, and said in an uncanny imitation of Christian’s Boston accent, “Allston Oystah House. We shuck em, you suck em.” Then in his normal voice, “Barrett, it’s me.”
If he was going to talk business, I decided to go back down to the living room, but as I was exiting the room I heard him tell Barrett he wasn’t coming back to New York until the next day. Which was interesting. I’d somehow been assuming as soon as we were done clearing the apartment he was going to flit right back to the city.
Maybe he wanted to spend as much time together as possible?
When it was safe to go back into my room to unpack, I found Ziggy lying on the bed, an upward-facing starfish, staring at the ceiling.
I unzipped the duffel and began sorting out my things on top of the dresser. “Everything all right?”
“Yeah.” He sounded like his mind was very far away.
I figured if he had something to tell me he would, and that maybe he knew he didn’t want to say too much that would just stress me out. I had to keep opening and closing my drawers because I didn’t remember which things went in which one. Turns out I had socks in two different ones, which was just silly, but I wasn’t motivated enough to take it all out and start over. “I really live more out of a suitcase than I live here.”
“Yeah,” he said again, and then focused on me. “Do you actually like living here?”
“Of course I do.”
“I think you like the idea of living here, anyway,” he said, which wasn’t really disagreeing with me, but wasn’t exactly agreeing either.
I abandoned my sock rearrangement and sat on the bed next to him. “I like the idea of living with you more.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah.” It made sense to me that my brain brought this up now. “If everything with Claire hadn’t happened, we would have spent most of the last year living together. We would have moved out today. And it’d be time to talk about what we’re doing next.”
“Just so,” he agreed, propping himself up on one elbow.
“It’s hitting me that part of the reason we moved in together up here was so I could get my mental and physical health together.”
“And that process got really…interrupted by us haring off to Tennessee.”
“You’ve been down there for six months,” he said softly, in case I had forgotten.
“Will you be all right if I have to be down there for another six months?”
He licked his lips. “Maybe it will be easier if I know what’s coming next.”
What’s coming next is Claire dying, and a lot of lawsuits, and I’m not really looking forward to suffering through either one, I thought. But what I said was, “I know you love your place in the city. And I love seeing you there. But you know I don’t really have a… a… space there. My space there is on the other half of your bed. Which has its charm. But–”
“But you can’t live out of a suitcase forever,” he said. “Despite all evidence to the contrary.”
I chuckled in the direction of my sorted clothes. “Yeah. I guess this is what I’m thinking. I don’t know that we had enough time to really know the answer, but it seemed to me like we did okay living together.”
“Did you think it wasn’t going to work out?”
“I was cautiously optimistic. But there’s still a kind of basic, underlying disconnect that we need to be aware of.” Listen to me, being all aware of things and stuff.
“If you spend too much time alone, you go bugfuck, and if I don’t spend enough time alone, I go bugfuck.”
He smiled and then covered his mouth with his hand, trying not to laugh, because this was serious, but at the same time… “That is a very direct way of putting it. A very Daron way of putting it.”
“Janine said that’s what she learned from me. To just come out and say stuff.” I flexed my hand. It was a little crampy from carrying the guitar case.
Ziggy sat up, and took it and rubbed it, working his thumbs into the muscles in the palm. “Can I just come out and say something?”
He kissed my palm before going on. “I love the way your brain works. I don’t always understand it, mind you–”
“Tell me what you want. For us, for a living situation in the future. If money were no object.”
“I’m not sure I can answer that, because money is an object.” I tried to relax my wrist. His fingers were doing wonders for my hand and the rest of my body, but for some reason my wrist and forearm were still stiff. “I know if we can we should buy instead of rent.”
“How about right now think about where, not how we’re paying for it,” he suggested.
“Okay.” I felt my shoulder finally relax, too. “I know you love New York–”
“How about stop saying what you know I’d like.” He pecked me with a kiss. “I’m trying to hear what you’d like.”
“I think we should live in Boston.” There, I said it.
To my surprise, he agreed. “It is a lot easier to live here.”
“Oh, God, yes. It’s so much less difficult in every way, except for the distance we’d need to go for meetings. And no one here gives a fuck who we are. Up here we won’t have to look for some place with a doorman and 24-7 surveillance cameras in the elevators.”
I didn’t point out that his place in New York didn’t have a doorman. I wasn’t sure about the elevator. “I don’t think we need as much space as Bart and Michelle, but their place got me thinking.”
“About where music can happen, for one thing.” I smiled, remembering one time Barrett had banged on the floor with a broom handle to get me and Ziggy to shut up. At the time I hadn’t known it was him. “And about the room thing.”
“The room thing?”
I meant the fact that Bart and Michelle each had a bedroom. My eyes felt hot as I brought this up and I wasn’t even sure why. “I don’t necessarily need my own bedroom, but I need my own room.”
He kissed gently along my temple, then between my eyes, like he was blessing me. “Yes, of course.”
Why did I think that was going to be hard? Had I expected him to object? Another thing to write down to unpack with Lynne, whenever I got around to a therapy appointment again.
“What else. A garden?” he asked lightly. “Hot tub?”
“Do you want a garden?”
“Not particularly. I’m just trying to think of the kind of things you see in real estate listings.”
“If we had a garden we’d have to hire someone to tend it while we were gallivanting around the world, you know,” I said.
“Sooo… it’d have to be a… rock garden,” he said, and then started to giggle at his own joke. I was laughing at it before I even realized he’d made a joke, which was part of what made it extra funny; it was so unexpected.
We were soon both helplessly laughing, punctuated by occasional snorts or sobs of “rock garden…!” and really, honestly, I hadn’t even expected to have that conversation at all and there it had gone way better than I could have ever hoped.
Not to worry, plenty of conversational mine fields were yet to be crossed that evening with my mother, but for the moment we fell into bed, laughing like utter fools.