It was just me, Chris, and Courtney from the Allston house, and we picked up Bart in the van. Carynne and Bradley were getting back to the city on their own schedule–in fact maybe they’d already left a day or two earlier. I don’t remember. It was a Sunday night so there wasn’t much traffic and we grabbed dinner at the deli in Vernon.
Connecticut was long as usual despite the lack of traffic. I had some weird flashbacks in the van while we were on I-84. I thought about asking Chris, who was driving, if he remembered much about the partying we’d done while Nomad had passed through the area a few months before and then decided that was not the best topic for conversation. I didn’t want to seem to be callously disregarding his sobriety nor rubbing his face in it, by talking about how hard I’d hit the bottle that time. But something about that dark stretch of road reminded me of how far out on the edge I’d gone.
Do you remember the first time you got really really drunk? I tried to remember if my fourteenth birthday had been the first time or just the time that stood out the most in my mind, given what had happened. Remember that was the whole scene with me and Digger trying to sneak back into the house, Claire ambushing us, Digger belting me, and me puking my guts out in the back yard.
It probably wasn’t the first time. It also wasn’t the last, although there were times in the past when I’d stayed away from booze purely because I was afraid if I lost my inhibitions I’d fuck up and out myself. It was nice not to have that hanging over me like an axe all the time. I still worried about being out–or being outed–once in a while but not with the same soul-crushing fear I used to have.
It was after midnight when we crossed into Yonkers and my head was still in a kind of weird place. Well, I’d be seeing Ziggy soon and getting some sleep, which was probably the cure for what ailed me. Court got dropped off first, then me all the way downtown at Ziggy’s, and then Chris and Bart drove off to the same hotel they’d been in before. (In fact I don’t think they even checked out while we were gone.)
I could see a light was on in Ziggy’s apartment even though it was two in the morning and I wondered if he was waiting up for me. I had a key to his place–on the ring with the keys to the rehearsal space– and I let myself into the foyer. I didn’t have a key to his mailbox but there wouldn’t have been mail on a Sunday anyway. The anticipation of seeing him surged like the juicy bite of an apple and I took the stairs two at a time instead of waiting for the elevator. At the apartment door I set down the guitar and my bag and then looked for the right key.
The key turned in the lock but when I pushed on the door, it didn’t budge. I tried turning it the other way, thinking maybe he had accidentally left it unlocked and I’d just locked it? But no, that didn’t get better.
I was about to knock when his voice came from the other side of the door. “Who’s there?”
Silence. Then, right up close to the door: “I thought you were coming back Monday.”
“We start rehearsing again Monday. Which is tomorrow.”
“Give me one sec. One sec.”
Okay, what the hell was going on in there? I could hear Ziggy’s voice, low and urgent, as if he were talking on the phone, but I couldn’t make out the words.
A few minutes later the elevator door opened and Barrett stepped out, wearing mismatched sweats slightly too small for him. “Good morning,” he said with an oh-what-now expression on his face. He knocked on the door. “Ziggy, I’m here.”
I heard the deadbolt release and then Ziggy pulled the door open a few inches. His eyes were sunken and he was disheveled. “Um. She won’t leave,” he whispered urgently.
Barrett pushed past him into the apartment. I followed a bit more slowly, Ziggy and I looking at each other warily but neither of us wanting to start something in front of Barrett, perhaps.
There was a female figure mostly naked half buried in the bedcovers. Barrett was attempting to get her to sit up of her own accord.
“For fuck’s sake, Ziggy,” she said, having barely moved. “You said I could sleep it off.”
“You can, honey,” Barrett said. “After we get some vitamins and fluids into you, all right?”
“Are you a doctor?” She tried to raise her head and seemed unable to.
“Yes, I am,” Barrett said without batting an eyelash. “Come on, now. Up you get.”
“Oh fuck you,” she said when she finally sat up and focused on him. “I know you.”
“Yes, you do. Come on now, it’s for your own good.”
“Do I have to?” She looked somewhat familiar to me, but maybe it was just that her look was familiar: wrecked hair, raccoon eyes, stung lips.
“Yes. Come on.” Barrett was unwavering. I was impressed. In under five minutes he had her wrapped in one of Ziggy’s many bathrobes and on the way out the door.
Ziggy threw the deadbolt after their exit and then leaned his head against the door. “I…I can explain. Are you angry?”
“Should I be?” I felt like I was vibrating at four times the normal rate but it wasn’t anger exactly so much as a heightened sense of being ready for a disaster. Which I guess meant I wasn’t sure if this was one or not. “I’m a little freaked out,” I admitted. “I mean, am I supposed to learn her name and her relationship to you or are you going to tell me it was just a one-night stand or what?” Like where was she on the scale from nameless to Janessa, you know?
He began stripping the bed, which was nice of him, I suppose, given that he had to pull off the entire mattress pad to get rid of an obvious wet spot. “I picked her up tonight at Limelight. You know how Jordan likes to hand out X like it’s Tic Tacs.”
“That’s where I’ve seen her before.” It wasn’t my imagination she’d looked familiar. “Jordan’s loft.”
“Yeah. She’s been flirting with me for like a year.” He put all the sheets and pillow cases into a heap by the window and then dug out fresh ones from the closet. “Bringing her back here seemed harmless. It totally did not occur to me that you were showing up tonight. When you said see you Monday I took it to really mean I would not see you until Monday.”
I helped him get the fitted sheet onto the corners, which was kind of a bitch actually but we managed it, and then he sat down as if too tired to do the pillow cases, too. “I can only blame myself, though.”
I sat down next to him. “Um, I think I’m not really processing this.”
“You seem kind of cold and distant and that freaks me out,” he said, turning to look at me, his eyes looking extremely glossy, perhaps with emotion.
“I…” What was I supposed to say to that. I love you? No, this definitely was too much of a powder keg situation to say something that volatile. “You know it takes me a while to figure out how I feel about anything.”
“Talk me through how you’re feeling then?”
“Before I came up the stairs the only thing I could think about was seeing you again. So now that’s not going the way I imagined, everything’s topsy turvy.” I made myself reach for his hand and was surprised to find it damp, almost clammy. “Emotional shocks make me shut down,” I said, remembering something I’d figured out back in therapy. “My parents…being as mercurial as they were…never knowing if they were going to be ecstatic or rage-filled or what…I learned to just shut down. I’m not doing it to shut you out. I’m just fucked up this way.”
“That’s perfectly sensible, actually,” Ziggy said softly, and squeezed my fingers. “I’m going to have a shower.”
He got in the shower and washed the scent of her off him. The entire time he was in there I kept thinking I should leave except…why? It felt almost like something I was supposed to do, which once I started thinking of it like a cliché in a song I not only was sure I should NOT do it, I started picking it apart. What was the point in leaving at a time like this? To make him feel as shitty as I did? To just get out of his face? To pretend tonight didn’t happen and start again? Plus, where would I go? Wander the streets of the city in the wee hours? That didn’t seem wise or helpful to either of us. Sit in the hallway by myself with my thoughts? Check on Barrett upstairs? Go to the rehearsal space? Why?
But I felt weird about getting in the bed, even with the clean sheets and the freshly cleaned Ziggy. He put the rest of the bedding all back together and then sat on the edge again, waiting for me.
“I’m going to sleep on the love seat in the office,” I declared after a while of chewing on the words in my head.
“You don’t have to do that,” he said quickly.
“I do. I need to just…” I made my hands into blinders on either side of my face. “Have some space to myself for a bit. While I get my head together. I’m not pushing you away, Zig. I promise. And I’m not running away. I’ll be right in there.” I pointed to the door as if to prove how close I’d be. “Okay?”
He looked small and miserable, like a kitten caught in the rain. “Okay.”
I took a blanket and a pillow and went into what would have been the actual bedroom in the apartment if Ziggy had been a normal person and which was nominally an office now. The loveseat wasn’t large, but since I slept in a ball anyway, I fit on it just fine.
I thought I was going to obsess for hours lying there but I surprised myself by passing out relatively quickly.
The sound of a garbage truck woke me around seven and I realized I’d rolled over so my back was sticking out from under the blanket. I flipped myself back the other way and saw Ziggy was curled up on the floor in a puddle of blankets next to the loveseat.
I added my blanket to his and curled up with him. The floor wasn’t comfortable, but neither was figuring out how to deal with my feelings. You just make do with what you’ve got sometimes.
A special note from Cecilia:
Folks, I just wanted to make a general plea about comments to all readers and commenters here. If there’s a theme of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles it’s that everyone has a right to self-expression and that self-acceptance is key to that journey for every person.
One thing that makes Daron’s own journey toward self-acceptance the most difficult is the judgmental attitudes of the people around him, ranging from the bigoted ignorance of his father to the well-meaning but misguided “advice” he sometimes receives, all the way to the damaging assumptions made by others in society that can lead to things like anti-gay laws and institutionalized discrimination.
I think we all resonate to some degree with Daron’s struggle for self-acceptance and this is one reason why the comments section of DGC is, and should be, a place where people should be able to feel free to be themselves. I’m mentioning this now because sometimes we may express the very same judgmental attitudes that made Daron’s journey so difficult, and I would like NOT to make our readers’ journeys that difficult.
In short, be wary of drawing generalizations about what’s good or bad about people. Don’t assume before you comment that everyone here is like you, or like what you expect. It’s been a while since I did a demographic poll of readers, but the last one proved we not only have great variation in age (from teens to 70s), we’re everywhere along the Kinsey scale, we’re all over the gender spectrum, and many of us practice non-standard relationship and lifestyle practices including D/s, polyamory, multi-parent child-rearing, etc. We also encompass a large number of spiritual and religious practices, political ideologies, ethnicities, and nationalities. And every single one of you is welcome here. (I myself am a polyamorous BDSM-practicing bisexual half-Asian with mild gender issues, but who’s counting.)
I value every comment because I know it’s easier to just sit back and passively consume. You’re deeply invested in Daron’s journey and that means a tremendous amount to me. I appreciate so much when people comment, and I know you speak straight from the heart because that’s how much this story means to you. That means people’s passions come out in their comments. But please do think before you passionately rant or rail against a situation, or a lifestyle, or a “type of person,” or anything, because you may be making the very next reader to see your comment think that they need to go back into the closet. And that’s the opposite of what we’re about here. Please do try to give each other the benefit of the doubt, and be gentle with each other.
I do not think it’s a “mere” coincidence that at the point in Daron’s story–when he’s grappling with the most complex emotional realities of his life–that we’ve been seeing the most emotional, personal, and passionate comments from readers of the past six years. This story brings up a lot of stuff. Please recognize that we’re all going through stuff.
Daron has his flaws, his incompatible needs, his blind spots. We all do. We each bring our own biases, shaped by our experiences, to the table. No one, including me, is perfect and avoids insulting or hurting others 100% of the time. What I ask is that we please listen to each other and be welcoming to each other’s ideas, even if ultimately we disagree. Honor the theme of the story, of creating spaces where self-acceptance can happen, by keeping the comments section a judgment-free* zone.
*And by judgment-free I mean of course to include the usual judgments and discriminations like homophobia, racism, and sexism, which are already prohibited by the site Terms and Conditions, but I do also mean transphobia, bi-phobia, misogyny, etc. as well as judging people for life choices, religion, you name it. OK?
And this is was probably the best thing that could have happened. Now you and Ziggy can have the talk that needs to happen. Colin is okay, but others may or may not be. (Or maybe Colin isn’t as okay as we thought?) I loved the way that you were able to tell Ziggy why you couldn’t talk about your feelings yet. That openness is what’s going to make your love work, I hope. You are both willing to think, wait, process, talk and just stay together through it. If leaving isn’t an option, that adds stability in the rough times.
BTW, I love the ending. You two are so adorable. God. Just keep staying together, work it out. I can’t wait to see what you feel after you figure out what it meant to come home like this. This will hopefully help clarify and solidify what you both want and need from this relationship.
Exactly. Processing always sucks but at least I’m not going to run screaming in terror from it. I don’t know the answers but this…incident…at least really makes some of the questions we need to ask really freakin clear.
Now if we can just do it without tearing each other to shreds. *crosses fingers*
I wrote a much longer post and then got kicked off of wifi. Pissed. I can’t be that eloquent again.
I am so glad, honored and excited that I stumbled upon this wonderful story and this intelligent, funny and passionate community. Daron, Ziggy, ctan, s, sanders and many others have opened up my mind and taught me so much in so many ways when it comes to music, love, relationships and life.
I treasure all of your insight, passion and ideas.
I normally don’t comment, but just had to put in my 2 cents this time.
Daron…I think it’s time for more rules to define your relationship with Ziggy.
You both agreed that having sex with someone else, when you weren’t together in the same town/location, was ok. But, perhaps Ziggy crossed a invisible line that was not defined in the rules. That being, bringing that occasional sex partner back into the space where you both conduct your personal relationship…ie Ziggy’s apartment, your bedroom back in Boston, etc. It seems that when you have had sex with Colin, you’ve never had it in your bedroom, since entering into a serious relationship with Zig. Once that other person enters into that most personal space, that sacred area that helps define your relationship…it seems then, more like cheating, rather than just a hook-up.
Talk to him, set up more rules, rules that apply to both of you. Either you continue with your “open” relationship with new/better definitions or you make the relationship exclusive. If you need to…swap out the bedroom & office and get rid of the bed for a new one. Start new & fresh.
And I just have to add this…WET SPOT? WTF? Does this mean that Ziggy was so high on the X, that he didn’t suit up? Because if he had used a condom, there wouldn’t be a wet spot left behind. This could be bad in so many ways.
I totally agree with you, K. I didn’t register the idea of relationship space as opposed to space for hook ups. There certainly needs to be a conversation about that one, especially since Daron is leaving in two weeks. Boundaries, yes? Also, yeah, the wet spot. I’m just hoping the X made the bladder loose or there’s a spilled bottle of wine somewhere. Ziggy said before that he was always careful, but drugs, you know. Also, I thought he wasn’t doing that stuff anymore because of his meds? Ugh.
Oh, I read again (a fifth time). Sounds like she did X, not necessarily Ziggy.
If Zig was on X he couldn’t get it up, so I think it’s safe to assume it was just her. I have no idea what it does to women. Ziggy can be reckless but he’s not stupid. Surely- surely- he would have used a condom…
TMI, probably, but in my personal experience the biggest wet spots happen when going down on a woman.
What Lena said. I was going to say that’s what I thought but lacking the personal experience it was going to be a guess. Thanks for the confirmation.
For the record it was a much bigger spot than you’d get from a guy jacking off into the sheets, for comparison. And yeah, in case it wasn’t clear, Ziggy didn’t seem like he was high, just tired.
If were going to enter the realm of TMI, are you talking about on X or just in general?
In general. I get very wet. Add saliva and I’ve been known to have to either strip the bed afterwards or sleep on a folded towel. Stripping the bed is too much fucking work.
Haha. Agreed. And no one wants to work that hard AFTER!
In my 20s the wet spots were such a thing that we started putting two towels down before having sex. Not side by side, on top of each other, because just one would soak through. And I’m not even a “gusher.”
K, you hit the nail on the head. We need to define a lot and here’s hoping trying to define our relationship doesn’t end up killing it, you know? But if it’s worth fighting for then there’s no going back, only way is through.
Daron, I feel your pain. My own thoughts and emotions are in quite a state right now and I’m having trouble sorting them out (2016 is a really shitty year). That’s one hell of a scene to walk in on when you’re looking forward to seeing him. I predict some very uncomfortable conversations in your future, with Zig and Colin, but more importantly with yourself. You got a lot of shit to figure out, love.
My darling Ziggy, you sure know how to pull my heartstrings. Curling up on the floor beside him? Poor little kitten. *pets*
I also wanted to say that I truly love the DGC community. As G said above, I have learned so much from all of you and have made friendships that I dearly treasure. I wish I was perfect and never accidentally hurt someone or said something that sounded wrong, but I’m not. So if any of my comments have offended anyone, I’m truly sorry. That was never my intent.
There’s…a lot to figure out here. A lot.
First, I expected this scene to play out on the road in Latin America. Putting it here allows for more possibilities.
Second, Ziggy always uses a condom. Except with Daron. And except with Carynne. I do not believe that the “excepts” end there. Daron can certainly differentiate between a wet spot from wine and one from semen. This was reckless behavior by Ziggy, in the extreme.
I’ve chosen to ignore Janessa’s pregnancy and accept Z’s protestations that he always used a condom. If he claims again to have used a condom, he’s already used up his one chance. I’m not trying to be harsh here. D needs to demand they use condoms for the next sixty days, and only return to bareback after a complete STD probe of Z, to include HIV. Reagan talked about ‘trust but verify.’ It’s time for verification.
Third, Ziggy’s apartment is, by unstated agreement, not just Ziggy’s apartment. It’s space shared for intimacy. And Ziggy’s bed is much more so. This isn’t cheating. It’s betrayal.
Ziggy is very sensitive to Daron, to include how Daron reacts to betrayal. That Ziggy allowed himsellf to be “caught” isn’t bad luck, it’s putting his D relationship in mortal danger because he failed to think past the next orgasm. This isn’t manic-depressive acting out. This is Z saying loud and clear that his relationship with D is less important than D believed.
These guys have been over this before. Z asked permission to have sex with Polly, which D granted because he asked. D has sex with Colin and makes sure Z knows about it. There was the “If I get Colin, I guess that means you get Janessa,” “It doesn’t work that way.”
Z curled up on the floor isn’t “cute,” it’s an admission of guilt. That’s a great starting place. At this point, with D getting ready to go on the road with Nomad, the air has to be completely cleared. Z has already offered to keep his dick in his pants if that’s what D wants. Accept the offer, Daron. And commit to doing the same.
Yes, it means giving up Colin. If you’re unwilling to do that, then your love for Z comes into serious question. Sure, it’s complicated. Relationships and love are complicated. Sure, it’s difficult to agree to exclusivity. Relationships and love are difficult.
You guys have been coasting. You’re at the bottom of the last hill, and need to climb the next one.
“You guys have been coasting. You’re at the bottom of the last hill, and need to climb the next one.”
That is exactly right. And it’s the “unstated agreements” that are part of the problem. I mean yeah I love it when it seems like we’re on the same page magically. But they have to get stated, because it’s really hard to agree to something or to stick to something if you don’t know what it is.
Daron, I left out the two most self-damning statements by Ziggy.
“She’s been flirting with me for like a year.” It was already explicitly agreed that each of you would ask permission first. Z isn’t sticking to something that he already knows about and was already stated. Getting other things stated is useless if they only apply to you.
“When you said see you Monday I took it to really mean I would not see you until Monday.” There is no way for a native English speaker to interpret this other than “If you hadn’t shown up tonight you would never have known about this, because I had no intention of telling you.” That is clearly lying. Z boasted about forcing you to tell the truth. You must force him to do the same, because he is incapable of truth-telling on his own. He has forgotten the most important things he learned in India. A refresher course based on tough love is my prescription.
“Tough love” is probably never going to work for me. I’m more the “if you love something set it free” type.
If you do that, it usually doesn’t come back. Or it changes in ways you probably don’t want to live with.
Ctan I kinda hate you right now…when the key didn’t turn I felt myself start to shake. When there was a mostly naked drugged out girl in Ziggy’s bed I started to cry…now I have to get through the day with an image of Ziggy curled up on the floor next to the loveseat out of my head. I am so happy that I didn’t try to read this chapter while I was in the office yesterday! Bad enough that I sniffled through a conference call this morning!
There is a lot of truth in this statement! I, again, used my Tumblr name (which I never use anyway) WTFReallyZiggy. But you know, I still think they are solid. This is a setback, but they just gotta talk it out. Ziggy feels like shit for hurting Daron. Daron feels like shit for obvious reasons. Daron didn’t leave, he stayed to give them a chance to figure this out. If he was done, he would have left. This is the kind of stuff that happens when couples (or however many) don’t set boundaries. They’ll work it out. They love each other too much not to.
FWIW you might want to not read the talks Daron’s going to have to have with Ziggy and Colin at work though. I have a feeling they’re going to be rough on us, and them. (BTW, I’m in the same boat. No way I can wait until I get home from work to read the chapters! I liked it so much better over the winter when I could read them before I went to work and work out my emotions before I got there!)
zomg never read web serials at the office… O.o