72 hours earlier, James had been standing on a television stage in Los Angeles with Sharna with dozens of television cameras pointed at him, surrounded by a television-perfect Christmas scene. Now he's thousands of miles away, sprawled next to his girlfriend in a trailer full of hay on the way to pick out a Christmas tree, and Conor is posting everything around them to Instagram.
"I'm going to find the best goddamn tree on this farm," Conor says confidently. He's dressed for holiday fun, wrapped up in a large coat and scarf, a Santa hat on his head, and a shirt with the phrases "God Bless America" and "Merry Christmas" surrounding illustrations of Santa and his reindeer flying over Mount Rushmore.
There's a few other people on the trailer with them: a mom and dad about his age with their son and grandparents in tow, all focused on the child, and a young woman sitting apart from everyone else facing out toward the tree fields, holding a cup of hot apple cider. She was standing ahead of them in the line to get on the tractor, talking to some unseen on her phone, saying "I'm not even sure if I want a tree. I just wanted to get away for a bit, go see some nature, you know?" James eavesdropping on her conversation when he should be listening to Becky and Conor discussing the finer points of tree selection, his iPhone stashed in his coat pocket.
Sharna stashed in his coat pocket.
Her texts started arriving as soon as he landed in Indianapolis from New York after the post-finale media tour, a constant stream from the early afternoon until late into the night, a "Hey lover! Miss u lots!" and a "Rehearsals 4 the tour started today, wish u were here" and a "I snuck a melted chocolate bar into your luggage" and so many other messages. The first day they were home, James caught Becky looking over at his phone in annoyance each time a message notification sounded. By the end of the evening, James had placed his phone on silent.
Becky asks James to hold her coffee while she poses for a selfie video, and James looks to Conor only to see him filming another video for his Snapchat. James isn't a Snapchat guy, but Sharna got him to use Instagram's video stories feature for the show, and he's comfortable enough with that, but not enough to Instagram his entire day. James smiles for Becky's video, but out of the corner of his eye he sees the family pointing out possible trees to their boy, watches his excited waving without a care in the world.
James wouldn't have minded picking out a fake Christmas tree with Sharna, decorating it in her condo with obnoxiously shiny tinsel. He wouldn't have minded hanging up some mistletoe in an alcove for him to 'accidentally' steer her under. Not at all.
The tractor stops and everyone unloads themselves carefully from the trailer, hay sticking to their clothing everywhere. The family heads toward the trees the boy had waved at, while the woman brushes hay from her pants and wanders off. Conor immediately runs down an aisle of trees like a hyperactive kid, James and Becky following. James takes the opportunity to trail behind his girlfriend, sliding his phone out of his pocket and pressing the home button to find another message from Sharna: "Tree shopping??? So exciting! Get me a real tree!"
He quickly types, "Absolutely. Whatever you want, Sharna. I'll get you whatever you want." and locks the phone, slipping the phone back into his pocket and striding faster to catch up.