Running Up That Hill – Day 24

I miss you
I’m going back home to the west coast
I wish you would’ve put yourself in my suitcase

-Coconut Records ‘West Coast’

I stared at the empty suitcase on my bed. Howie and I were going to be heading out to LA the next day, which meant I really had to get a move on my packing. Especially since I wasn’t going to just be packing for my stay in LA… but for the rest of the tour. That one week in LA wouldn’t really make much of a difference, it just meant I had to start packing again that much sooner.

I couldn’t say I was really looking forward to spending a week in LA, but it wasn’t like I just wanted to hang around Florida anymore. Howie was right, there was nothing for me to do here. It’s not like there was anything for me to do in LA either, but I guess there would at least be more of nothing to do while we were waiting around to go back on tour.

LA’s got a lot more ways to waste time, you know?

I threw some clothes into the suitcase, not really caring if they were clean or not. If I needed to, I could wash them at Howie’s place. Hell, he’d probably even do it for me if he found out I hadn’t done any laundry since we’d been on the break. It wasn’t like I didn’t bathe! I just didn’t like washing my clothes. It’s pretty boring, and it takes a long time.

It doesn’t even really matter what I bring with me on tour anyway. The only thing people care about seeing me in is what I’m wearing on stage, and there’s no way they put me in control of that!

I guess I had to pack other stuff too. Once, I forgot to pack a toothbrush and Kevin flipped out. He literally flipped out, gave me a huge lecture on hygiene and ended up buying me a toothbrush at the next convenience store we passed by. Then he watched – he actually watched as I brushed my teeth in the bus bathroom.

I thought for a minute about not packing my toothbrush just to spite Kevin, but I didn’t want to have to go through that again. He was already cranky enough.

I threw a bunch of other things into my suitcase and I looked around my room. It was so empty. You would think being a celebrity would mean I’d own a lot of stuff, but I really didn’t. I got gifts from fans all the time, but to be honest I never really kept them. I didn’t like shopping much, so I never went out and bought stuff. Instead of emptying out my suitcases, I should probably just keep everything in there all the time.

Life’s better out on the road anyway. I didn’t need a nicely decorated room!

~~~

It was rare that I ever slept in, but that morning I found myself being shaken awake by Kristin. I groggily opened my eyes as I looked at her. She wasn’t smiling, and she was holding the cordless phone receiver.

Of course my initial thought was somewhere along the lines of “oh brother, what’s gone wrong now?”

“Sorry to wake you up,” she said with an apologetic look on her face. “I was going to let you sleep as long as you needed, but Denise is on the phone,” she whispered, handing the receiver to me.

I sat up and tried to wrap my head around what Kris has just said. I took the phone from her and nodded to her with a slight smile as she walked out of our bedroom. “Hello?” I said, hoping my voice didn’t sound too hoarse.

“Hi Kevin,” Denise said, sounding more serious than I would have liked. I had a feeling that she wasn’t calling me to deliver any good news. “Thanks again for coming to visit Alex on the weekend. He really appreciated it.”

“It was no problem,” I replied. Was that the only reason she was calling me? It couldn’t have been.

“I’m sure you saw that he’s made some progress, and that he’s doing a lot better.”

I shook my head. What was she getting at? “Yeah,” I said quickly, wanting for her to get on with it. “He was a lot better than the last time I saw him.”

“His time here has really helped, and he’s on the road to recovery, but it’s a long process. I know you’re supposed to go back on tour in a week, but putting Alex back in that situation so soon could be damaging to all the hard work he’s done to get to this point,” she said, and then paused.

I’m sure I had the most confused look on my face. What was she trying to tell me? That AJ wouldn’t be coming back on the road with us? That he had decided to leave the group? Maybe that he just needed to stay in rehab longer? “Okay,” I said dumbly, not really knowing where to go from there.

“We’ve had a discussion with the doctors about it, and we think that him going back on the road so soon won’t be beneficial to his recovery.”

Yeah, you already said that. I just waited for her to continue. Sometimes that woman really got on my nerves with her dramatics.

“We’ve made the decision for Alex to move to a transitional care facility for an additional two weeks.”

I let out a sigh of relief. That wasn’t so bad. Sure, it would mean postponing the tour even further, and the record label would probably have problems with us, but they always did. We could handle an extra two weeks.

“I know that this is probably going to mean problems for the tour-”

“No, it’s fine,” I cut her off. “It’s fine, don’t worry about it. We’ll handle all that stuff. The most important thing is that AJ gets the help he needs. If he doesn’t feel ready to go back on the road yet, we’re not going to go.”

“Thanks for understanding, Kevin,” she said, her voice a little lighter than it had been before. “I’ll let him know that you guys are fine with it. I’ll call you with some more details when we have them ironed out.”

“Thanks,” I said quickly. “Talk to you soon.”

“Talk soon,” she said before hanging up.

I tossed the phone onto the bed and rubbed my eyes with the thumb and forefinger. It was way too early in the morning, or at least too early in the day for me to have to deal with all of this. Just as we had been gearing up to go back out on tour, yet another wrench had been thrown into our plans.

Of course, it wasn’t AJ’s fault. If he needed more time, he needed more time and there was nothing the rest of us could do about that. It was us denying the seriousness of his addictions that had got us into this mess in the first place. But it would be silly to deny the fact that postponing the tour again would have ramifications.

I sighed to myself and tried not to worry about all of that. We were going to have to deal with it no matter what, but step one would be letting the rest of the guys know what was going on.

~~~

Mornings spent in bed with my wife were one of my favourite things. I’d almost forgotten what it was like, having been on tour for so long. Now that we had this extended break, I’d really begun to appreciate what it was like to be a real, married couple.

Leighanne sighed happily as she cuddled up to me. “I wish we had more time,” she murmured as I put my arm around her.

“We have all the time in the world,” I said softly.

She just shook her head slightly. “No we don’t. You’re going back on tour in a week, and everything’s going to go back to normal. I know you guys are eager to get back on the road, but I just wish you and I could have more time here together, like a regular couple.”

I wouldn’t exactly say she was right about us being eager to get back on the road. I know that I certainly wasn’t. Once we started touring again, I was sure I’d feel differently. But at that moment, I really just wanted to stay in Atlanta forever.

Before I could say anything else, the phone rang. I glanced over at the bedside table at the caller display. It was Kevin. I rolled my eyes a little. I still didn’t want to talk to him much, but I knew he wouldn’t stop calling unless I picked up the phone.

So I did. “Hi Kev.”

“Hi,” he said stiffly. He probably didn’t want to talk to me either, so I had no idea why he’d be calling. He also didn’t sound like he was in a great mood. “I just got off the phone with Denise.”

I sat up a little, and Leighanne moved over to my side. “Oh?”

“AJ’s not ready to go back on the road yet and he’s moving to a transitional care facility for another two weeks. We’re not going back on tour next week.”

Even though I was still a little annoyed with Kevin, I had to admit I was grateful for his bluntness right then. He didn’t mess around when it came to things like this. “Oh… how’d the others take it?” I asked, not really knowing what else to say. I had to admit, I wasn’t exactly upset to hear this news.

“You’re the first one I’ve told. Howie’s phone’s been busy.”

It struck me as interesting that since Howie’s phone was busy, I was the next person he decided to call, considering Howie and Nick were together. I figured Kevin was going to give Howie the responsibility of letting Nick know. That sounded like the type of thing he would do.

“Alright,” I said quickly. “Well, thanks for letting me know.”

“Bye,” he said quickly, before hanging up.

“What was that about?” Leighanne as quickly, looking up at me.

I shrugged, wearing a slight smile on my face. “Looks like your wish has been granted. AJ’s not ready to go back on tour yet. We’re postponing an extra two weeks.”

“Oh,” Leighanne replied. She wore a slight pout, but I could tell she wasn’t that heartbroken over the news. “That’s too bad,” she said, leaning up to kiss me.

“Mmmhmmm…”

~~~

I was sitting in Nick’s living room waiting for him to finish packing. He sure did take a long time. Not that I blamed him – we’d be away from home for quite a while so it made sense that stuffing everything he owned into a few suitcases would be a big task.

That, and this was Nick, so he probably kept getting distracted.

I kept myself amused by watching TV, talking on the phone with Leigh and washing dishes. At least when Nick came back, he’d have clean plates in his house. Not that he ever used them as I was fairly certain he ate pizza every single day.

Just as I was about to go check on him, my cell phone rang. It was Kevin.

“Hey Kev,” I said brightly. “What’s going on?”

He sighed. That was when I knew it wasn’t good news. “AJ’s going to a transitional care facility for two weeks when he’s out of rehab.”

No wonder he sounded stressed out. “So we’re postponing again?”

“Yeah. I already talked to Brian.”

I nodded. We’d also have to tell management and the fans. Both of them would probably be upset – one more than the other though. “I guess I’ll let Nick know.”

Kevin was quiet for a minute. “What if we don’t?”

That didn’t make any sense. “We have to tell him, Kev. Besides, I’m sure he’ll notice when we don’t go back on tour in a week. He’s not stupid.”

He sighed again. Kevin was always such a ball of stress. He liked to be in control, and I was sure it was driving him insane that he had no say in this situation and just had to deal with everything that was happening around him. “I didn’t mean we wouldn’t ever tell him, maybe we should just wait until you guys get to LA.”

Oh, that was what he meant. Now it made sense. He was worried that if we told Nick the tour was postponed, he wouldn’t come back to LA and we’d be in the same predicament we’d been in with him before. “I don’t know, Kev. It doesn’t seem fair to lie to him.”

“We’re not going to be lying to him,” Kevin said quickly. “We’re just going to wait to tell him. Do you want him to stay in Florida being self destructive?”

I wanted to say I was sure we could let Nick make his own decisions, but to be honest I didn’t really know if that was true. The last thing I wanted was for Nick to stay in Florida drunk off his ass. If that continued on for another two weeks, it was likely that he’d spiral even further out of control. Getting him to LA was for the best, we both knew that. “Okay,” I said finally. “But once we get to LA, I’m telling him.”

“That’s fine,” he replied. “Just as long as you get him to LA.”

“I will. Bye Kev.”

“See you later.”

I snapped my phone shut and looked up the stairs. I was a horrible liar, but I was going to have to put my game face on. Nick would probably be upset we he found out we’d kept this information from him. He’d probably also be upset about the fact that we weren’t going to be touring again as soon as he’d hoped.

I only hoped that once he got to LA and away from his toxic life in Florida, he’d be understanding of the situation.

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