Carynne dialed the WTA concierge service and next thing you know the four of us were in a car on the way to eat.
“Okay now seriously what is going on with you two,” Bart said, “because when you and Ziggy are fighting the rest of the band is ready to cower in the back of the station wagon like Mom and Dad are having it out.”
“Ziggy and I are not fighting,” I insisted. We were in one of those limos that’s not what I’d call a stretch but which was stretched enough for four of us to fit without squishing. “We’re figuring shit out, but we’re not fighting.”
“Oh, that clears everything up then?” Bart knocked me on the shoulder with his.
Champagne had made me a little bit lightheaded. “Okay, fine. I’m still trying to decide if I’m angry at him or not.”
“That’s not how anger works,” Carynne said.
“Yes, it is.” I put my hands on my thighs like I was playing an invisible Casiotone. “I could have blown up last night. I could have gone nuclear. And I could have made us all miserable, myself included. I decided to take a step back and try to look at it from the perspective of what I can control and what I can do something about. I can’t control Ziggy and I don’t think I want the kind of relationship where I do. But I can control my own shit up to a point.”
“What happened last night?” Carynne asked.
“He was fucking some chick when I got there,” I said, and dammit, that was when I felt the slivers of glass slice through me. I ran my calloused fingertips along my lip, my eyes brimming for a moment. Why now? What was it about telling them about it that made the pain fresh and sharp all of a sudden? I swallowed and made my voice low and calm. “It’s not jealousy. He doesn’t even know her name. And he’s sorry. He’s dragging himself with guilt about it. Which I guess is fine, he deserves it. But it’s almost like…”
I picked up my hands and made circles with my thumbs and forefingers and interlocked them.
Dammit. I could not make words fit the feelings and concepts bumping into each other in my mind.
“It’s okay to be jealous,” Carynne said.
“I don’t need your permission to be jealous.” That came out more snappish than I meant it, but it wasn’t her I was snapping at, it was the shit floating around in my skull, refusing to make sense. “I mean, shit, I basically have Ziggy’s fucking permission to be jealous–he’s expecting it. But. That. Is. Not. It.”
“Are you sure?” she pressed.
I put the heels of my hands over my eyes. “Yes. I mean, sure I’ve got lingering fears that Janessa, or someone else he hasn’t told me about, is going to waltz in and take over his heart. Yes I’m scared life with him’s always going to be a series of shocks. Yes I’m still fucked up about him jerking me around in the past. None of that goes away. But are any of those things jealousy?”
“No,” Carynne admitted.
“Were you actually surprised to find him in bed with someone?” Chris asked.
“Are you saying Daron got what he deserved for being with Ziggy?” Carynne snapped.
“Whoa whoa,” I tried to say, but Chris was louder.
“I’m not saying that at all! I’m asking, actually, whether Daron was surprised. Like, is getting over the shock part of what’s slowing down the process of figuring it out.”
“I guess that’s part of why it’s complicated,” I said. Out the window I could see we had gotten into some kind of snarl getting onto a bridge into Manhattan. Great. The traffic was like my frustration. When everything was going to hell with Jonathan I felt like shit but I was comforted in hindsight about the clarity I had about just how it went wrong and unraveled. I wanted that same clarity about what the fuck was going on with me and Ziggy but I didn’t want it in hindsight. I wanted it right now. “It was a shock to the system while at the same time there is a part of me that says I shouldn’t be surprised. This is Ziggy. If he’s left unsupervised, apparently he’ll fuck?”
“That doesn’t mean you have to like it, though,” Bart said. “Here’s what I’m unclear on. Was it just bad timing or did he actually act in bad faith? You haven’t said.”
“We did miscommunicate about when I was showing up,” I said. “And I don’t know if he was planning to tell me about her or not.” It occurred to me I could ask. I dug my notebook out of my bag. The stop and go of the traffic made it a little difficult to write clearly, but I made myself a note. I’d been making notes all day, here and there. “Part of me doesn’t want to believe that he’d intentionally torpedo what we’ve been building because then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
“Did he break any rules, though?” Bart asked. “That’s what I’m trying to get at.”
“You were fine with him going off with Polly that time at Axis,” Carynne pointed out.
“He asked my permission to sleep with Polly,” I said. “That was…the first time I realized it’s not sex itself that bothers me.”
Bart was leaning forward with that TV doctor look of concern on his face. “Did he ask this time, though?”
“No. But I…” I trailed off as the things floating through my head seemed to align, if only for a moment. “I might be misremembering a conversation we had.”
“I remember Ziggy telling me that asking permission seemed a reasonably mature thing to do.” So was that what this was? A slip in maturity? “But we stopped short of actually promising that to each other.”
It clicked. The permission issue was an open loop. We’d started a conversation about that exact thing at least twice but we’d never nailed it down. The threads were hanging out there, waiting to be grabbed.
“I…” My eyes weren’t focused. I was seeing the scuffed, dirty second-floor restroom at Axis. I was seeing the way Ziggy’s fingertips looked against his chin as he opined about maturity. These were Ziggy’s trial balloons. Maybe in a way the thing with the girl had been meant to be one, too. Maybe he was going to tell me the next day and calibrate from there.
“Why do you think you stopped short of promising?” Chris asked.
“Probably because…I’m not ready to ask his permission so I feel it would be weird to insist he ask mine?” I felt a rush of adrenaline as I said that, making me sure I had hit my own nail on the head.
“But you don’t have to have one-hundred-percent equivalency,” Bart said. “I mean, look at me and Michelle. It wouldn’t make sense for us each to play by the same rules because we each care about and need different things. She doesn’t care who I sleep with on the road, but she’d be bothered if I slept with anyone but her when I was at home–and that includes when she’s away but I’m at home. She, on the other hand, I expect her to see guys when I’m away and she’s at home. That’s fine. I’m away a lot more.”
I seemed to recall that a while ago Bart had still been figuring out if he was okay with that or not; apparently he was. “And how’d you figure that out?”
“Talking. And some advice from a couples counselor.”
“You want one of us to referee for you when you talk to Ziggy? Sometimes it helps,” Bart said.
I shook my head. “None of you is a neutral party. We’ll…figure it out on our own.” It felt urgent to suddenly, not for my sake or for the sake of the relationship per se but because of what Bart had said about the band. That when Ziggy and I weren’t getting along everyone in the band was on eggshells. No wonder they’d been so out of synch, and here I gave them a whole speech about needing to pull together when it was me as band leader and Ziggy as lead artist who needed to pull together.
I felt like a heel for a couple of minutes and everyone was silent and let me stew in it. Then I remembered that actually my speech still applied and I didn’t need anyone grandstanding or treading water. I needed them all pulling together.
And I realized if I needed clarity with Ziggy I needed to at least be clear to myself about what I wanted and needed. If I was going to concentrate on the things that were in my control, that was the place to start.
But, you know. often things that seemed perfectly clear when I was saying them to myself seemed hopelessly twisted and tangled once they came into contact with Ziggy’s force of gravity. I’d soon find out see if this was one of them or not.
Guess what? The DGC Volume 9 ebook is now ready for pre-order on most ebook sales sites. The Pre-order price is 99 cents! After the book is released on June 29th the price will jump up to $2.99 so put your pre-order in today at:
•Barnes & Noble Nookstore
Launch day is Wednesday June 29th! If you’d like to help out with the launch, either by blogging, reviewing, or just sharing it on social media, sign up here: http://goo.gl/forms/etVtuSvKkzAOAcD73
(Couldn’t decide which video I liked better so here, have both. -d)