When was the last time Cleo had actually touched her guitar?
She was sitting alone on the couch in her apartment, sipping her third glass of wine as the thought occurred to her. Not just “when did she last write a song?” or “when was her last gig?” But when was the last time she had actually taken her guitar out of its case and held it?
She couldn’t remember. Touring with The Blossom Step? No, she had to have played at least some after that. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the cushion. Tour in January. Everything she’d ever wanted from life. Music constantly shimmering in her blood, the thrill of collaborating with other musicians, the excitement of a new town every night. And even the quiet moments when she would absently strum a few chords in a hotel room while talking with Edie.
No, wait. That wasn’t the last time she’d held it. It wasn’t quite that bad. Cleo took another sip of wine, focusing. She’d gotten home from the tour and spent two weeks in Boston. She’d taken out her guitar a few times after that, still riding the high of tour and this new chapter that seemed to be unfolding in her life. Then she’d started job hunting and set it aside. And then she’d started working delivery and hadn’t played since.
So March maybe? Cleo was a professional musician and she hadn’t touched her guitar in six months. The realization flooded her with a blend of emotions. She knew on some level that they were being magnified by the wine, but it wasn’t like it wasn’t true. She’d had to put aside everything she loved to do, everything that she wanted to do for the rest of her life, in order to do what she needed to do right now to survive. And that was necessary, she knew that. But six whole months? With no end in sight?
Cleo opened her eyes and looked up at the ceiling. She’d done this her first night in this apartment, too. Twenty-six years old and just starting a well-paying job that seven years later, she would unceremoniously quit. She’d laid here alone on the old sofa, drinking cheap wine and listening to the sounds of the city outside. It had felt right. There was a pang at that thought of leaving Olivia and Noah again after a few years of reconnection. But it had been more than made up for by the excitement of being back in Boston. Of living exactly where she’d always felt most at home.
Sure, paying for it would be a struggle from time to time. But it was worth it to live here in the middle of everything, where she could spend every day soaking up that creative energy and channeling it back out through her music.
And now she hadn’t been able to tap into that creative energy in six months.
The lease agreement was sitting on her kitchen table. She hadn’t filled it out one way or the other yet, and it was due back in a week. Cleo had tried several times to sign it and send it back, but each time she froze before the pen actually made contact with the paper.
Who was she kidding? The tears pricked at her eyes as she stared up at the ceiling, tracing the long-memorized lines in the plaster. It was time. She couldn’t afford to live here anymore. Not if she wanted to ever be able to play music again.
But maybe she didn’t have to leave Boston? She could get a roommate. Lots of thirty-somethings had roommates, it wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about.
She pulled out her phone and started scrolling through Roommate Wanted listings. This plan evaporated as quickly as it had arrived. Even with roommates, it would be too expensive unless she found a job immediately. Maybe she could work a few less hours, but not by much.
Edie had offered. Cleo wiped at the tears gathering in the corner of her eye and took another sip of wine. Edie wanted Cleo to live with them. Their apartment cost half of what Cleo’s did, and splitting the rent would make it a quarter of her current costs. And she’d be living with Edie. And she’d be closer to her mother, Olivia, and Noah.
And Andrew, though that wouldn’t matter once he was out of New Winslow.
It was the smart decision. Cleo knew it was. She wouldn’t have to work eighty hour delivery weeks and destroy her physical and mental health just to stay housed. But it felt like she was giving up on Boston. She knew it was ridiculous to think that way. Boston was indifferent to her. Sure, she had friends and some standing in the local music scene. But so did Edie, and it wasn’t like they were seen as lesser for living out of the area. Hell, half of the musicians she saw regularly lived scattered throughout New England. So if it was good enough for them, why wasn’t it good enough for Cleo?
She set her glass down on the coffee table and stretched out on the couch, feeling it spinning slightly under her. Living with Edie. What would that be like? She already liked Edie’s apartment. It was big and old, but cozy. Actually pretty similar to her apartment now.
The landlord seemed kind. And Edie was there. Edie would be there all the time. She wouldn’t have to drive an hour to see them, it would just be part of the daily routine.
Cleo had never actually lived with a partner before. Jenna had been her longest relationship and while they spent nights over each other’s houses, they’d never even discussed moving in together. Jenna had been happy living with her four roommates and spending all of her time on campus.
Come to think of it, she was pretty sure Andrew had never lived with a romantic partner either. He dated plenty and had a boyfriend for a year or so a couple years ago. But he’d also lived alone for years. Olivia had gone from her parents’ house to a rented room to her current place, as far as Cleo knew. And Noah had lived with his dad until his dad had died, then he’d bought the duplex. So had anyone Cleo knew ever actually lived with a romantic partner at any point?
Maybe Edie had done it? Or maybe they’d just have to figure it out for themselves.
Either way, as much as Cleo was still reluctant to admit it, she couldn’t help feeling that she’d already made her decision.
She’d talk to Edie later, she was too tipsy to have the conversation tonight. Tomorrow she had to be at her mom’s and then after that, she was scheduled for a shift in Boston.
Maybe she’d bring her guitar with her to her mother’s and get used to playing again.