Dear J, it’s really strange how time either drags incredibly slowly or whips by in such a frenzy, I feel like I’ve been swept up in a tornado. When you’re a kid, you think you’re never going to grow up. Once you’re there, you wonder where your childhood went.
These were the things I was mulling over as I stood outside the lot that housed Paradox Pictures. In the weeks following the blowup with Cricket and Bexley, I’d lost myself in my music. I’d written several songs and had presented them to the guys. They dug the new material and we jammed a lot, trying to figure out the new tunes.
But that’s where the easy going atmosphere ended. It really felt like a lot of the closeness we’d had as friends had waned. There was a lot of arguing in the studio and people refusing to play unless they got their way. As an artist, this was really stressing me out. All I’d ever wanted to do was play my guitar and write songs. Before now, I never really thought about what it would be like if we had any degree of success.
I know what you’re thinking, Jillybean. You’re saying that I sound ridiculous. I’ve been on tour, I’ve had hit songs….. and I’m now complaining about it all?
But I’m not really complaining. I’m trying to understand and adjust. The band took it surprisingly well when I fired Bexley and Cricket. But I could tell that my actions had made Curtis and Carl a little standoffish. At one point, Curtis even said something along the lines of, “Leo, you’ve turned into an egotistical jerk!”
I tried to explain my reasoning behind what I’d done, and everyone eventually said they understood. But I could tell that things had changed. While we weren’t exactly unfriendly with each other, I didn’t feel like we were as close. (On a side note, I remember a time Mom wrote in her diary, “Why do things always have to change? Why can’t things stay the way they are?” I finally know what she meant!)
When I got home, Blue decided to teach me how to play hopscotch. It’s a lot harder than it looks!
Oh, you want to know what happened at the movie studio? Why was I even there? More on that later. Be patient, Jillybean.
I’d been playing hopscotch for a few minutes before I noticed Blue just standing there, staring into space.
“It’s your turn!” I called out to her.
She just shrugged. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she seemed kind of downcast. I hoped it wasn’t because of anything I’d done.
“What’s wrong, Twinkle Toes?” I asked, using a name I sometimes called her to make her laugh.
But her expression didn’t change. “Daddy, I don’t want to upset you.”
My heart sank as she spoke. What in the world could be wrong with her? “You won’t upset me. Just tell me what’s on your mind.”
She began slowly but as she continued, her words became rushed as if she’d been keeping it all pent up inside for a long time. “I’m thinking about how you’re going on tour. I don’t mind. Not really…. not this once. But I don’t want to be left behind. And, Daddy, I know this is your job, but are you going to do this forever? Don’t you want to have a house with just us living there? And then I could go to school and have friends and come home to my family. And nobody would stare at us or take pictures of you or bother you everywhere you go.”
My first instinct was to crack a joke about how she’d obviously been watching too many family sitcoms on TV. But luckily, I stopped myself. As much as I didn’t want to admit it because maybe it meant I hadn’t been doing a stellar job as a parent, her concerns were legitimate. There was no denying it. First, Mom and Aunt Keniesha had talked to me about this. Now, Blue herself was bringing it up. This needed to be addressed in a satisfying way.
“That sounds like it would be really nice, actually,” I said in the tenderest voice I could muster. I tried to imitate the way my dad had always spoken to me.
“So, what are we going to do about it?” she asked, her green eyes still very sober.
“Well, I have to do something, don’t I?” As she nodded, I gestured for her to come closer to me. “I’ll be honest. I don’t have all the answers right this minute. But there are some things happening that might bring us a little closer to what you want.”
“I’d rather not say until I have a better idea. But I don’t want you to worry about things.”
As I pulled her into my arms, I added, “I won’t make promises I can’t keep, but I want you to know that you’re the most important thing to me in the whole world. And, Blue, more and more, I want the same things as you.”
Blue seemed to accept my answer but things would not happen as fast as she desired. All I could do was work on it. The more I thought about Blue’s dream of a stable life, the more I realized that I wanted that, too.
The thing that really convinced me the most that living in the limelight was not all it seemed was the night I attended my first Grammy Awards. Accidental Therapy was nominated for Best New Artist and Album of the Year.
The red carpet event was a nightmare with all of the camera flashes and people yelling to me. But not as much of a nightmare as deciding who my guest would be. My first thought was that my mother should be my date. I couldn’t imagine sharing this night with anyone but her.
But she and my dad had gone home to Storybrook. I offered to buy my parents tickets to come back to Bridgeport to attend the ceremony, but Mom said that now that Dad was older, he didn’t much care to make long trips.
Blue had asked to go with me, but I didn’t think that was a good idea. I’d been pretty careful not to allow public pictures of her because I didn’t want her to be hassled. After all, she hadn’t chosen this life.
When it came down to it, the choice seemed obvious. Aunt Keniesha! She had been there during every pivotal moment of my life and she would absolutely love the attention from the adoring crowd and photographers.
As expected, she said yes right away.
She was so stunning, the photographers wanted to capture her alone, which was fine with me. She posed like a pro and took all of the attention in stride.
As expected, Josh brought Rachel. I about died when I saw her getup. She was beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but she was less covered than an older brother likes. (I was smart enough not to mention this to her.)
There was a buzz in the air, an excitement all around us as our group photos were taken.
The interviews were the hardest part of the evening for me but I managed to get through it without embarrassing myself… as far as I knew.
It was difficult getting through the night, not knowing if we would win anything or not. But the moment they announced that Accidental Therapy had won in both categories we were nominated in, I couldn’t help but produce the biggest grin I’d ever had.
I gave the main acceptance speech and thanked basically everyone I knew, then Carl, Curtis and Josh added their own thank yous.
The award was heavier than I thought it would be, but that didn’t stop me from lifting it over my head in triumph.
We decided to attend Samuel Serendipity’s after party…. To tell the truth, none of us could believe we were invited to it. Samuel was getting older… I remember my mom going on and on about this guy when I was a kid, but he was still as popular as ever.
As we danced, I felt really self-conscious. Lately, I’d been feeling that way no matter where I was.
To my disappointment, Aunt Keniesha excused herself, her eyes far away. I stood there awkwardly, trying to act like it was no big deal to be alone.
My eyes followed Aunt Keniesha as she crossed the room and, with an ease I wish I possessed, she introduced herself to the man himself, Samuel Serendipity.
They actually seemed to be getting along pretty well. My aunt never failed to impress me.
For a minute, I thought maybe I could find my sister. But as it turned out, she was … ahem…. busy with Josh…….
(They really need to get married right away, Jillybean.)
I stood there like a dork for a long time before I realized the other guys were kind of standing around awkwardly, too. So we decided to go home. By the time we got there and eased ourselves into the hot tub, morning was breaking across the sky.
Carl cleared his throat and bit his lower lip. That could only mean one thing coming from him. Bad news.
“Josh, Leo,” he slowly began, glancing at his brother next to him. “We have something we want to tell you and we hope you won’t be too bent out of shape about it.”
My throat constricted and I felt my stomach turn.
“This doesn’t sound good,” Josh said.
The brothers glanced at each again before Carl continued. “It’s just…. there’s no way to really say this, but we want to go solo.”
I raised an eyebrow. “But there’s two of you,” I dryly remarked.
“You know what he means,” Curtis said, smirking a little at the joke. “It’s nothing personal. We’ve been working on our music and in the industry since we were kids and we feel like there are….. there are, uh….”
“… Creative differences,” Carl said, nudging his brother in the arm.
“You’re breaking up the band,” Josh said in monotone.
“I guess we are. And we hope you aren’t too mad about it.”
I smiled a little at Josh. It was our turn to look at each other now. When he married Rachel, he was going to be my brother, so I felt a little bit like I had a partner in this situation.
To my surprise, Josh smiled, too. “Hey, I’m getting married and I’m not dragging my wife and family all over the world for a rock band. Some bands work it out and it’s fine for everyone, but I can figure this out. Anyway, as soon as the new album comes out, we’ve fulfilled our contract with Sound Pollution Records.”
I let out a sigh of relief. For a while, I was afraid I would have to be the “bad guy.” I shrugged now as if none of this mattered. “To tell you the truth, I was offered a job composing music for Paradox Pictures. I guess I’ll accept their offer.”
As soon as it was decided, the air felt lighter and we could all look at each other and laugh again. When it came down to it, the friendships we’d made with each other were more valuable to us than the thing that had brought us together in the first place. I couldn’t live if I couldn’t create music. But I also realized that I couldn’t raise my daughter the way that I felt best while living this lifestyle.
Just like that, everything had fallen into place. I knew my troubles were far from over, but I couldn’t help but feel that this was a new lease on life.
Author’s Note: The red carpet venue “You Have Arrived” was made especially for me by Lil from Lil’s Creative Corner. If you haven’t checked it out, she has two stories going at the moment, one from Sims 2 and one from Sims 4. She also has a lot of builds you might enjoy. Thanks for bringing Accidental Therapy to the red carpet, Lil!
I’m adding this after the publication because there was some admiration of Keniesha’s dress. Below are the links to both Keniesha’s and Rachel’s dresses.