That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line
Of the edge and where I walk alone”
-Green Day 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams'
I checked my watch, it was just past midnight. Taking back the final swig of my Corona I swung around on my bar stool and surveyed the place. There wasn't much happening, I guess that's what I get for coming to the bar on a Wednesday night.
Sighing, I turned around an ordered another beer. I wasn't sure how many I'd had at that point, but the guy didn't seem to be worried about cutting me off. That was cool. Kevin would have cut me off by now. Fuck Kevin, when I'm at home and can do what I want!
I swung around again once I had the drink in my hands. I still didn't know if I wanted to try and pick up a girl or not. I figured if one came up to me I might take her home but I wasn't going to go out of my way to try. Someone always approached me anyway.
I started picking at the label on my bottle, until I noticed a guy walking towards me. I kind of raised my eyebrow a little, hoping he would start going in another direction. He didn't. I quickly looked back down at my hands and was suddenly very interested in taking off all traces of paper from the bottle.
Gah! That was creepy. I tried to be smooth. “Oh. Um. Hey.” I wasn't successful.
“What're you drinking?” He asked me. Corona, dumbass. Why ask a question you already know the answer to? Oh right, I picked the label off.
I looked up for the first time since he started talking to me. He was dressed nicely, well nicer than I was anyway. He also had better hair than I did. What the hell?
“I'll order you something better to drink,” he said, taking the now empty Corona out of my hands. I sat there stiff, not really knowing what to do. I mean, I was flattered and all, but I kind of only wanted chicks. Not that I have anything against guys... I'm just not into guys. Nothing against guys who are into guys I'm just not!
“Here,” he said after a couple of minutes, passing me a glass of some amber coloured liquid. I guess he saw me eyeing it weirdly, because he explained it to me. “It's Glenfiddich.”
Who orders something like that?! “Look, um, I'm not really into dudes.”
He just laughed. Man this guy was weird. Why was he talking to me? Did he want an autograph or something? He did know my name. Guys usually didn't. More often than not I got called Justin by guys.
“No. Neither am I.”
“Then what are you doing talking to me?” Smooth.
“I'm glad you asked,” he grinned. “Name's Chris, and I want you to be my wingman.” He said, taking a sip of his drink.
“I need you,” he paused, making eye contact with me. “To help me pick up chicks.”
If I wasn't so thrown off I probably would have laughed out loud at that. Of course that was what he needed me for! Too bad I didn't need anyone's help for that! Well, maybe Max Martin helped a little. Thank you Max Martin for allowing me to be noticed by girls everywhere!
“And what's in it for me?”
He finished his drink and put the glass down on the bar. “You've got some time off, right? You look like you could use a little fun, instead of sitting here drinking Corona,” he said Corona like it was a dirty word. I like Corona!
But he was right. I did have a lot of time off, and I was bored. Hell, that was the reason I was in the bar in the first place, wasn't it?
I took back all of the 'Glenfiddich' in one gulp. “Yeah, okay.”
Something I used to love doing when I was in high school was going for a jog first thing in the morning. Usually I was forced to because of basketball practice anyway, but that didn't mean I enjoyed it any less.
There was no denying that my sleeping habits were getting really out of whack. I hadn't been able to sleep the first few nights after everything happened, and now I was falling asleep early and waking up...well, I think it was just after five when I decided it was time for a run. I thought that might be a good way to release all of this pent up anxiety or energy or whatever it was.
It wasn't working very well. After ten minutes of trying to jog around the block I gave up and just walked at a steady pace. I also gave up on trying to get Leighanne's discman to work, so I walked in silence. Alone with my thoughts.
I really wanted to be enjoying my time off, but it just didn't seem to be happening. I felt guilty for enjoying myself or feeling happy. The time off was something we all needed, but at what cost? I didn't feel like it was right for all of us to be separated at a time like this. AJ had gone off to Arizona for rehab and of course he had to be separated, but there wasn't really any reason for the rest of us be away from one another.
Then again, there wasn't really any reason for us to be together either. There were no concerts to perform, no songs to record. There was just nothing.
I wondered if the others felt the same way. If they missed me or each other. It seemed like we should have been dealing with this together, instead of apart.
Maybe I just wasn't used to being away from them this long and it was starting to take it's toll on my brain. Unable to relax on my walk, I turned around and headed home.
I was greeted with a surprise when I walked in the door. I wasn't sure how long I'd been gone for, but judging from the breakfast Leighanne had prepared in the kitchen it had been a while.
“Welcome back,” she said with a smile on her face.
I looked around the kitchen. I think she'd made enough food to feed a small army. “I didn't mean to wake you up,” I said, taking a piece of toast off of the tower on the table. Where did we get all this food?
“You didn't,” she replied simply. “I mean, I guess you did, but I wanted to do something nice for you. Why did you decide to go out for a morning jog anyway?”
I sighed. I didn't know what to do with myself anymore, and I certainly didn't know how to tell Leighanne the reason why I needed to go out and clear my head when I wasn't even sure of that myself. Looking around the kitchen I instantly felt guilt washing over me. I'd been abandoning her and pining for my old friendships. Leighanne didn't know that, but it didn't matter because I still felt awful about it.
“I just needed some time to think,” I said, hoping she would understand and not press the issue any further.
She nodded, doing exactly what I had wanted. Sometimes it was like she could read my mind. I hadn't seen a lot of that from her lately, so it was nice.
I walked silently down the halls of the building our record company was located in. It was odd for me to be there alone, usually we did meetings like this as a group. That day I was there to strictly talk business, and though Kevin is usually pegged as the leader he couldn't be bothered with that stuff. Usually I ended up going to the meetings and translating the business jargon to the others.
I looked up at the walls that were lined with platinum albums and stopped when I got to Millennium. I studied it for a moment. It didn't feel like that had only been two years ago.
I remembered doing all the photoshoots for that album. We'd all been laughing and joking around. Everything had seemed perfect back then – we were on top of the world, or just about to be, anyway. If I had been told back then that we'd have to put a tour on hold because AJ needed to go to rehab, I probably wouldn't have believed it. I might have believed that AJ would have addiction problems, but never to the extent of shutting down a tour. That seemed a little extreme. To be honest, it still seemed a little extreme, and it didn't still feel like it was really happening.
I couldn't stop staring at the CD and particularly at AJ. I felt like I was having a moment of clarity. Everything had been a blur up to that point, and now it was starting to feel very real. I was overcome with a sudden need to call AJ and ask him how he was doing, how rehab was going and if he thought he was going to be able to come back at the end of the 30 days.
That was, of course, impossible. I couldn't call AJ, there was no way he would be able to answer any of those questions after being there for less than a week. I shifted my weight and tried to push those thoughts out of my mind.
I turned around and came face to fact with Leigh, the girl who worked on our website. “Hey,” I replied after a couple of seconds.
She laughed a little. “Did I startle you?”
“Yes,” I admitted.
“Sorry,” she grinned. “Are you ready for this meeting? I think it's going to be pretty long.”
I shrugged. Truthfully, I hadn't really taken much of a look at the agenda other than a quick glance. I knew it was about some promo and a possible site redesign, which made sense since Leigh was there. She didn't usually come to our meetings. “I hope it's not too long, I still haven't eaten anything yet today.”
“I'm hungry too,” she said as we began to walk down the hall towards the meeting room. “If you want, we could grab some lunch afterwards.”
Grateful for her offer, I nodded my head. It would be nice to have a lunch with someone and get my mind off all the drama that was plaguing it. “I'd like that.”
The ivory keys in front of my face taunted me, daring me to strike them once again. I was trying to get into my songwriting mode, and for whatever reason it just wasn't working.
I picked up the pencil that was sitting beside me on the piano bench and tried to come up with some lyrics, since the melody wasn't working out for me. Still nothing, my mind had gone completely blank. I was feeling pretty depressed about it. I couldn't go very long without working, and the one day I'd taken off seemed like enough. I wanted to have something to show for our time off.
The problem was that at the moment I just didn't have the heart for a sappy love song. I was just bored. I didn't care about the guy that needed his girlfriend back, or the guy that needed to show the girl he loved her more than her pathetic boyfriend. I only cared about going back on tour and performing again. The fans didn't want a song about that, and I didn't think I'd be able to write one that wasn't completely cheesy anyway.
I considered for a minute going to the record company meeting we had that afternoon. Howie was planning on going alone, but there was no reason that I couldn't as well. After all, we both lived fairly close. There was no reason for Brian or Nick to fly in and go to the meeting, but there was also no reason for me to not be there.
Unfortunately for me, the meeting was starting in about ten minutes and there was no way I'd get there in time.
I turned my attention back to song. I'm not sure if you could even call it that yet because I barely had anything finished yet. Usually I enjoyed just playing around on the piano and seeing what came out, but it just wasn't happening. Knowing that I couldn't force it, I decided to table the work for now.
Maybe a long walk and some fresh air would clear my mind.