Running Up That Hill – Day 12

“The world was wide, too late to try
The tour was over we’d survived
I couldn’t wait till I got home
To pass the time in my room alone”

-Blink 182 ‘Adam’s Song’

In order to not have to do a greatest hits less than ten years into our career, we were going to have to work our collective asses off to get the next album ready. Or at least have something done so we could prove to the record company we were serious about it.

The problem was, I didn’t think anyone was actually serious about it. It wasn’t like we didn’t have the time. In fact, for once we actually had all the time in the world. But Nick had taken off to go back home without so much as a ‘goodbye’ and Brian had spent his time here just goofing off with Howie and I.

Simply put we were acting like friends, not co-workers. And although that usually worked in our favour, right now it just wasn’t helping to move things along.

I’d tried my best to whip something together on my own, but my heart wasn’t in it. I didn’t know what was missing. Often when I was lacking inspiration I’d go back and play some of the old songs we’d written, to try and recapture the feelings I had when I was working on those.

But still nothing.

In the end I’d succumbed to sitting in the basement and watching old tour videos while Kris was out at an audition. How was it that I was already re-living my glory days and I was only twenty-nine? It didn’t make sense.

“Heeeey Kevin!” Nick said through the TV. I laughed, looking at the goofy look on his face.

“Hi Nick,” I heard my own voice come from behind the camera. “When are you going to cut your hair?”

He pouted, and pretended to look at the watch on his wrist. “In four days,” he promised, and I laughed along with myself on the tape. During the Millennium tour, AJ and Nick had made some bet, and the loser wasn’t allowed to cut their hair for four months.

Nick lost, and when it was all over, his ‘best hairstyle of 1997’ was gone. We’d made fun of him for that for years.

I didn’t want it to be over, but I didn’t feel like I had the drive to do another album and another tour. Who knows if AJ would either, once he got out of rehab. Everything was so up in the air, and it was difficult for me to adjust to. For once, every second of our lives wasn’t carefully planned out.

I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d never really thought about the group ending before, or even taking an extended break, and I didn’t know why I was thinking about it now. Maybe just because I couldn’t get any new material written. I’d always been a worrywart, I’m sure the others could tell you that, but I’d never been this paranoid before.

Part of me just wanted things to go back to normal, out of fear, and part of me wanted to try something new.

The problem was, I didn’t know what that new something was, just yet. A new direction for the group, or a new direction for myself?

I suppose I still had some time to figure it out.

~~~

After our few days spent in LA, it had been nice for Leighanne and I to finally be home. She spent the majority of the day planting flowers and doing work in the garden and I spent the majority of the day…well, either asking her if she needed help or doing nothing.

I had grown so used to a tight schedule, that without it life was starting to become very boring.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what Kevin had said, how there would never be a perfect time to start a family. Especially with the lives that we had.

There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that it was something I’d always wanted. In fact, if I’m being honest, being a husband and having a family was always a bigger dream of mine than being famous. But life doesn’t always go the way we plan it to, and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to travel the world.

But still, it didn’t mean I couldn’t have both, right?

So, for the third time that afternoon, I went outside to see if I could help my wife at all. Even though I didn’t know the first thing about gardening.

“Hey,” I said, putting my hands in my pockets.

She smiled up at me. “Are you really that bored?”

“Yes.”

She laughed a little and wiped her forehead. “Well, there’s not much left to do. But if you want to plant those potted geraniums I have over there, you can do that.”

Sounded like fun to me! I knelt down and started digging through the dirt, but after a couple seconds Leighanne handed me a shovel.

“Here,” she said. “It’ll be easier with this.”

It was. Like I said, I didn’t know anything about gardening. But at least I knew how to dig a hole and put a plant in it. That was easy enough, right? And it was sort of fun, being outside in the garden and acting like a normal married couple. Instead of one who was constantly on the go and never spent more than a week at home. In fact, I think this was the longest we’d spent at home since we’d gotten married.

“Well, what do you think?” Leighanne asked, stepping back from the garden to admire her day’s work. I followed her and looked for a couple of seconds.

“I want to have a baby,” I blurted out.

“What?” she asked, quickly turning her head away from the flower arrangement in front of us. “I meant about the garden,” she laughed. “But really? Are you serious?”

“I wouldn’t have said it if I wasn’t sure,” I said, and as soon as I did Leighanne threw her arms around me. It was oddly reminiscent of when I’d proposed to her. Except that had been in a hotel room, not out in the open on our front lawn. But I didn’t care. Much like that day, I was one hundred percent sure I was making the right decision for myself and for our relationship.

I would just deal with the ramifications of that later.

~~~

Cheese pizza, cheese pizza, cheese pizza! My most favourite food ever. Judging by the two empty pizza boxes in my living room. I should really throw those out. You know it’s funny, ’cause I’m a pretty messy guy, but my house is usually pretty clean. I guess it’s because I’m never here long enough to mess it up.

I ordered from Pizza Hut the night before. It wasn’t that good, I always thought their crust was too soft. Tonight I had ordered from Domino’s, which was better. Plus I’d got a free order of chicken wings with my pizza! Who can say no to chicken wings?

That was pretty much all I did the entire day. Sit on my ass and eat pizza. I had a good life. Except for when there was nothing on TV. Which was pretty much most of the day until the evening hit. I even tried to watch a soap opera. The key word there is tried. I fell asleep half way through it.

I looked at the stairs and contemplated if I should go to sleep in my bedroom or not. I hadn’t the night before. I’d just fallen asleep on the couch. In my defense, I have a very comfortable couch. It’s really big and soft and has a lot of pillows. Mandy picked it out, because I can’t say couch shopping is one of my hobbies.

I hadn’t really left the couch since I kicked Chris out the day before. He’d left and I’d just sat on the couch, watched TV, ordered pizza, fell asleep and did it all over again. That was the sweet life! I think. It was actually kind of boring because like I said before, there’s not a lot on TV during the day.

I looked around my living room for something else to do. I was getting sick of watching sitcom reruns… there’s only so much Seinfeld a person can watch at once!

And that was when I saw it. The blue duffel bag sitting next to my TV which contained my N64 and all the games that I brought with me on the tour bus. How did I miss it before? I dragged myself off the couch and unzipped the bag. There it was in all it’s glory. I rummaged around until I found what I was looking for. I knew it had it be in there somewhere.

Aha! Success! My brand new copy of Majora’s Mask. It even was still in it’s shrink wrap. I was never able to play it when I first bought it because I had no time, and when I did have a (very short) break between Millennium and Black and Blue, I was spending it with Mandy. That’s what happens with girlfriends, you never get to play video games anymore, and it’s just not worth it!

I never had a chance to play it on the bus, either. I mean, I guess I did but Zelda games were the kind of games that needed concentration and no interruptions. I never got that on the tour bus. So I always settled for Mario Kart and stuff like that, with short levels.

But now, I had all the time in the world! It didn’t take me long to set up the console – I’d done it enough times. In fact, if setting up Nintendo systems was an Olympic sport, I’d probably have the gold!

I sat back down on the couch, controller in hand. It was going to be a long night, just me and Link. And it was going to be awesome.

~~~

I walked hand in hand with Leigh down some pier in LA. It was nice to be able to walk around without a bodyguard, for once. Of course I knew it wasn’t something I could get used to. Our month of ‘vacation’ was nearly half over.

It felt weird not having anything scheduled, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. We’d done a few TV appearances talking about AJ going into rehab, because of course that was a big story. But after that, it had been nothing. There was nothing more for us to say about that, and it wasn’t like we could do group appearances without AJ there. So we just faded into obscurity for a little while. And I won’t lie, it was kind of nice.

“Hey Howie?” Leigh said, and I turned to look at her.

“Yeah?”

“This might be coming way out of left field, and forgive me if I’m being too forward, but is something wrong?” she asked, and we stopped walking for a second.

“Why do you ask?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re usually really chatty, but today you just seem to be somewhere else.”

I laughed a little. ‘Chatty’ was not something I was usually described as. Especially since I spent most of my time around Nick, Brian and AJ. In comparison, Kevin and I were the quiet ones. “Yeah, sorry about that. I guess I have a lot on my mind.”

“If you want to talk about it, I’ll listen.”

I didn’t know if I could talk about it with her. “I don’t know, it might be a conflict of interest…”

She raised an eyebrow. “Because I make the website. Jive just tells me what to put up there and I do as they say. And make it look pretty.”

“You do make it look pretty.”

She smiled at the compliment, but it quickly went away. “Are you worried about the greatest hits stuff?”

I leaned my elbows on to the wooden railing of the pier. As someone who’d grown up in Florida, I’d always been fond of the water. It had such a calming quality to it. “We all are,” I admitted.

“Are you going to do it?”

“I don’t know,” I said, and saying that out loud scared me a little. We’d all had the mentality that there was no way we were going to do this, but the truth was sometimes Jive left us with little to no choice in matters such as these. It was a real possibility that we would end up doing it. “None of us want to, it doesn’t feel like a smart career decision.”

Leigh nodded. “It would look like the end.”

“Exactly.”

She looked away for a second, I guess thinking about what she was going to say next. Maybe she thought she was overstepping her bounds, but I didn’t think so. It was nice to have someone to talk to who knew the situation, but was far enough removed to be able to offer their own opinion. “Are you guys planning to do another album?”

I sighed. That was the big question, wasn’t it? We’d all talked about it optimistically, but still no solid plans had been made, and no one was pushing us this time. As it is I felt like Black and Blue had only happened because Jive had pressed so hard for us to finish it quickly. I never said that to the other guys, so I didn’t know if they felt that way too, but that’s how it seemed to me. “Yes,” I finally said. “But we haven’t even started it.”

“Do you guys want to do another album?”

I shook my head, because I couldn’t answer that, and that was the scary part.

“I don’t know.”

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