Running Up That Hill – Day 3

“You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not at my best
I’ve been gone for a month, I’ve been drunk since I left
These so-called vacations will soon be my death
I’m so sick from the drink I need home for a rest.”

-Spirit of the West ‘Home for a Rest’

“What do you want to do today?” My wife pulled me out of my half conscious thoughts. After arriving home the night before the only thing I’d wanted to do was sleep. So that was exactly what I did – for twelve hours. I guess I was more tired than I thought. Or maybe I was finally letting myself relax.

What did I want to do today? Absolutely nothing. I wanted to stay at home and sleep for another twelve hours. I don’t think I had spent a month at home… well, ever. Not since joining the group anyway. It was a weird feeling to know that I didn’t have to go back to work any time soon. That I could just sit and home and relax.

I felt guilty for thinking that, but it was nice to have some time off. We’d been going nonstop for years and it was nice to just have this time to ourselves to breathe. Of course it’s unfortunate that is needed to be under these circumstances, but I do think it was necessary. Not just for AJ, but for the rest of us as well. Call it the silver lining I guess.

Even if it was nice to have time off, I still wasn’t sure how I was going to handle not working for a month. Downtime was what we called recording an album or doing a photoshoot. An entire month without doing any of that seemed so foreign to me. Actually getting to spend some quality time with Kristin? Forget it. That was unheard of.

“Nothing.” I finally replied to her after not saying anything for a couple seconds. Just laying around our house being together sounded like a good start to this much needed vacation.

~~~

My bed sheets are not as nice as the ones in hotels. That’s saying a lot because normally hotel beds are not that comfortable either. The comforter is always really itchy and the soft blanket is always way too hot. I don’t know what it is about my sheets at home, all I know is that I hate them. Maybe the thread count or whatever was too low. Or was it too high? Howie taught me about thread counts once, but I wasn’t really paying attention. I just know that if the thread count was higher (I think it was higher) that meant your sheets were softer. Also more expensive. That makes sense. Higher thread count would make it more expensive which would make for nicer sheets. Why would you pay more for more uncomfortable sheets?

I looked around my bedroom and sighed. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I didn’t have a lot of friends here, in fact most of my friends lived in LA. This house was big and empty, and I didn’t know why I bought it in the first place.

Actually, that’s not true. The only reason I bought it was because it was close to my family and because it was also close to Mandy’s family. Too bad she moved out pretty much as soon as she moved in. Now I was stuck with this big house somewhere I really didn’t want to live anymore.

I had thought about not even coming home and just going to LA and hanging out there for a while. The only reason I decided to come home was basically… well all the other guys were going home. I wanted to be able to go home too. The only difference was that they all had something to come home to. I just had an empty house.

I took my uncomfortable blanket, draped it around myself and walked down to the living room. I hated the depressed feeling the bedroom always gave me. Aren’t bedrooms supposed to make you feel relaxed and sleepy? Mine always made me feel like shit.

Slumping down on my couch I eyed the TV remote, trying to will it into my hand. My mind control powers weren’t as great as I had hoped because it didn’t move and I ended up having to reach for it. There probably wasn’t anything good on TV at ten in the morning on a Wednesday anyway.

I thought about giving Kevin a call, but I knew better. Whenever he was with Kristin he always wanted to be left alone and very clear about it. I couldn’t really blame him, if I had a hot wife I’d want to be left alone with her too! He also lived far away so even if I did call him we’d just talk on the phone for a couple of minutes, have an awkward pause and make up excuses as to why we had to go. Actually, that’s probably what would happen if I called Brian. Kevin would ask me about my feelings and I’d feel awkward telling him. I didn’t know which was worse, so I called no one.

Staying silent is not easy for me. I really wanted to get out of my house and do something. I couldn’t even call up my family to hang out since my mom and Aaron were out on tour.

Which is exactly where I should be.

~~~

Leighanne and I walked hand in hand down the street to a new deli she wanted to try. If you couldn’t tell, one of our favourite things to do together was go out to eat. We were nowhere near as adventurous as Kevin or Howie when it came to the food we liked, but we did enjoy trying the occasional new place. It was probably because lunch breaks were one of the only times we could steal together while out on tour.

I had finally managed to get a decent amount of sleep the night before. That was only because I fell asleep on the couch halfway through watching a movie. My body finally gave in to the fact that it was time to rest, I suppose.

Normally I really loved being at home, but this time I was just aching to get back on the road and tour. It was very unlike me, and I was sure Leigh could sense that something was up. I had actually tried calling Nick a couple of times, but hung up before I finished dialing the number. I didn’t know what I would say to him. “Hey Nick, how’s it going? Why don’t you come stay with me because I miss you and the guys and you’re the only one who understands what I’m going through. Don’t worry, Leighanne won’t mind having you here for an entire month!”

Yeah, that would probably go over real well. My relationship with Nick was so strained that I didn’t even know if he’d pick up the phone if I were to call him. I know I should probably be letting Leighanne support me through this, but she really didn’t seem to understand. She just seemed to see this as a surprise vacation. She wasn’t upset or anything, I guess she figured AJ was getting help and that everything was going to be fine.

I would have thought that’s how I’d be feeling too, but it just wasn’t the case. Instead I found myself feeling nostalgic for the old days when everything was innocent and guilty for not seeing this coming. I blamed myself a little for being somewhat estranged from the other guys once I got married. I probably could have tried harder to maintain my relationships with them.

I kicked a pebble with my foot and watched as it went rolling down the pavement.

“What’s wrong?” Leighanne asked me. I must have looked like an angst-ridden teenager. What’s wrong? That was kind of a stupid question, Leigh.

I shrugged. “Just thinking about stuff.”

“About AJ?” She guessed. It was an easy guess, but she wasn’t entirely right.

“Yeah.” I didn’t think I would be able to explain it to her if I tried, so I just let her think she was able to read my thoughts. I didn’t know why I was feeling so bitter against her all of a sudden. I didn’t like feeling that way.

She let go of my hand and placed it on my shoulder. “Hey, don’t worry. He’s getting the help he needs. You should be feeling relief.”

Don’t tell me what I should be feeling! I held my tongue since I knew she was just trying to help. “You’re right.”

~~~

My house was spotless. I have always found cleaning relaxing and today was no exception. Not that my house was a mess when I had arrived home the night before – far from it. I always tried to make sure the place was clean before leaving on tour. It was like my last little ritual with my home before being away from it for a long period of time.

I washed my hands and sat down on my living room couch. The TV was on, but I hadn’t really been paying attention to it. I’d just turned it on so I’d have some background noise while cleaning up. I grabbed the remote and started flipping through channels. I have never really been one for watching a lot of TV. Not that there was really much on in the afternoon anyway.

Absentmindedly flipping through channels, I stopped when I saw Carson Daly. Was it really time for TRL already? I’d been cleaning longer than I thought.

“And it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for, that’s right our number one video of the day.” TV Carson said and was met with a round of screaming. TRL was weird on TV, but I still felt compelled to watch. Also, I was now somewhat interested in what the number one video was.

“As voted by you, our number one video on the countdown today is…Pop by NSYNC!”

Well, that wasn’t particularly surprising. I chuckled to myself as the video started, wondering if Justin and his backup band had heard about our postponed tour yet. I was sure they had and I sort of wondered what they thought about it.

Man, I hate this song. Okay that’s not exactly true. I hate that this song is everywhere and I hate that we are constantly compared with them. The song is actually pretty catchy. I bopped my head along to the beat.

Oh, what the hell?

“Do you ever wonder why, this music gets you high, it takes you on a riiiide!” I sang at the top of my lungs as I danced around my living room. “Feel it when your body starts to rock, baby you can’t stop, and the music’s all you got, this must be POP!”

I nearly missed hearing the phone ring I was singing so loud.

I danced over to the side table and picked up the receiver. “Hello?”

“Hey.” It was Nick.

“What’s up Nicky?”

“Nothing. I was just bored. There’s nothing on TV.” He paused for a second. “Are you listening to NSYNC?”

Oh crap, I was caught. “They were on TRL.” I admitted. I wasn’t sure if saying I caught them on TRL made it better.

“Why are you watching TRL?” He laughed.

“There was nothing else on TV!” It’s true, there wasn’t.

“You’re telling me that out of all two hundred or however many channels you have, they only thing you were interested in watching was TRL? Dude..”

“Look, I flipped to it right when Carson was announcing the number one video and I was curious as to what it was!” I was just digging myself in a deeper hole. Nick never passed up an opportunity to make fun of me.

“You could have guessed it would be NSYNC.” He said bitterly. I smiled a little bit at that. Nick really hated them still and was always sure to make it known.

We were silent for a couple seconds after that. Neither of us really knew what to say. I didn’t want to bring up AJ since it would probably make Nick upset. There wasn’t really much else to say, I’d just seen him yesterday.

“Well Howie… I guess I should go.” He said quickly. “Don’t spend too much time casting your votes to MTV.”

“Bye Nick.” I laughed, knowing better than to refute his insult.

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