There was one huge thing that I had not thought about at all in the weeks leading up to our departure for South America. I knew there were a lot of things floating around in my head that I had crammed to the back because I didn’t have the bandwidth to think about them. I had a sense of those things pressing on me but I had to keep them at bay because there were more immediate things hammering my brain every minute of every day getting ready for this show.
Some of you have probably thought of it already, though. I’ll give you a hint: I barely had the bandwidth to deal with even a fraction of the emotional stuff going on between me and Ziggy. Family stuff, interpersonal stuff, other people-related stuff therefore was well outside the realm of my dealability.
Here’s another hint. When I say a huge thing, I mean a six-foot tall thing. (Or maybe an eight-inch thing if you have a dirty mind.)
If I was the slightest bit worried about whether Colin and Flip were going to bond–which, let’s face it, I was, even if I was keeping myself from thinking about it–that worry evaporated when I saw them playing “rock, paper, scissors” and giving each other welts on the arm. (If you don’t understand why putting each other in pain is a bonding thing, um, I can’t explain it since I don’t understand it either. I just accept that it is.)
Ziggy and I had rolled into rehearsal about a half hour late. “Traffic,” Tony proclaimed to Barrett, though that was not strictly true. Whatever calm and relaxation I had gained by our morning lovemaking was frayed badly by the time we arrived because of my anxiety about us running out of time. It’s not like thirty minutes made a huge difference, but at the same time with almost no time left before our departure, every lost minute felt like a blow.
There was a brief mingle of meeting and re-meeting the full crew, and then we made a plan to run the show in full — with starts and stops as needed — tonight after dinner. Tomorrow, full dress rehearsal. Hopefully reaching the point of no stops at all. Day after: departure.
Normally at this point I would feel completely focused, with worries actually decreasing because all the extraneous stuff drops away. The show is what the show is.
But I still didn’t know what we were going to do in the acoustic segment. And I still didn’t know if I was physically going to make it through without my hand falling off. It was like one of those nightmares where you show up to a final exam completely unprepared for the material but try to fake your way through it anyway. Except this was my real life. If only we had one more week. Just a week. If we had an extra week, then everything could be worked out, I thought.
But there was no way to get that week. Wishing for it so hard that my stomach hurt didn’t make it happen. I just had to plow ahead.
Flip had tuned all my guitars while waiting for me to arrive, and after a vocal warmup for everyone, Ziggy included, led by me, we dove right into a run-through of the first quarter or so of the show with dancers and tech. I should point out that on a show like this it isn’t just the musicians and the dance troupe who needed to rehearse. The tech crew–lights, stage effects, logistics, et cetera–needed to rehearse, too. Every other tour I’d been on they’d been given a lot more time to work with the full show. The piecemeal way we’d gotten this together–entirely because of me–meant that they and Linn were still figuring some things out.
The one saving grace is that for South America we were not taking an entire custom stage with us, and although we did have our own lights, the setup was not (apparently) as fully involved and complex as it would be if we did the USA. So most of what the light crew had to work on was just what color or effect to use when, and when/how to use follow spots. The tech guys were the first to tell me they had it under control and it was no problem but I had vivid memories of sitting down at Louis’s real-time lighting console that one time and that feeling like I was playing a giant pipe organ. It was an art form of its own and they were performers, and they deserved every chance to succeed in their performance. Which meant we had to give them adequate rehearsal.
I felt like shit about it.
The first round of rehearsals went pretty well, though, and getting into the groove with the band always made me feel better, even if it was temporary. I at least knew that the first twenty minutes of the show was solid, and first impressions count for a lot. I felt like something was still off about the sound, but I set aside my desire for perfection with my knowledge that as long as it sounded all right to the supposed concert-goer, that was what really mattered. With the full crew there, we had a bit more of an audience than before, and that focused everyone in a good way. There was a smattering of applause as we finished the last song in that segment of the set.
And then my wrist began to lock up. It was like the spasm that usually formed in the middle of my palm had moved southward into my forearm. The good thing was that my fingers seemed to still move without trouble. The bad thing was that it was excruciating in a whole new way.
Flip could see it right away. He was right there, taking my guitar from me as he would at that point in the set, while I was flexing my fingers and gritting my teeth.
“You taken your F yet?” he asked.
“I was going to wait until I ate something,” I said. I didn’t explain that Ziggy and I had each other for breakfast and it wasn’t yet time for lunch.
He cuffed me on the side of the head gently. “I thought we worked out a regimen.”
“Well, we had, but the days are much longer and–”
He held his hand out, one eyebrow up.
I picked my jacket up off the amp where I had slung it and handed him the bottle from my pocket. He rattled it. “You pick up refills already or do you need to do that before we leave?”
“I’ve got a fresh bottle at the apartment.”
He nodded. “And what brand of whiskey should I get?”
“Okay, okay. Maker’s is okay, but I like Knob Creek even better.”
He snickered. “Of course you do.”
I swear roadies can (and will) make anything into a sexual innuendo.
At that point he went to find me something to eat so he could make me take the pill. I didn’t argue. Honestly, having someone else in charge of my medication was a relief. One fewer thing for my brain to have to deal with.
As Flip disappeared, Colin appeared, took hold of my hand, and began to try to massage the cramp out of it. I tried to show him where it was in my wrist except can bones get cramps? I don’t know. I pointed to it.
He caught my other hand in his and lifted it slightly, his thumb touching my ring, his eyes full of questions.
My cheeks heated suddenly, like I’d been caught red-handed with my hand in the cookie jar, and a spike of sudden guilt stabbed deep in my gut. There was a huge tangle of feelings and guilt and fear and thoughts about what Colin might think and whether I should have handled it differently or what it all meant or how I had surely surely surely fucked this up terribly and that big knot basically hit me like a boulder falling off a cliff. The words that came out didn’t even make any sense: “I did it.” But I couldn’t explain. I couldn’t face whether he was hurt by what I’d done. I couldn’t process any of it right at that moment and the pain in my wrist spiked like a nail was being driven through it.
[Don’t forget to come back Saturday for a new chapters! Thanks for all the donations last week for my birthday! -ctan]
(This one is not only from 1991, it’s got a lot of relevant lyrics for me. Go on, post your faves. -d)