I find myself leaning back in my office chair, eyes closed, listening to a recording session that happened across the ocean, decades ago. It’s a working session—something that by all rights I should never have been able to hear. Voices echo over the tape, beautiful and intimate, and I can almost feel the room around me when suddenly the music stops. A start, then another stop, and then a moment. A single word.
Just a flash—a moment—and it begins again, and this time I feel the air leaving my body, replaced by a feeling—something like being covered by the lead blanket at the dentists’ office. What feels like years of tension eases out of my shoulders. It’s perfect. (It’s magic.)
You bring homemade mini chocolate cheesecake cups to the secret birthday party at the office. You hope that the other humans will enjoy eating them with the fancy tiny spoons you picked up to go with them, and that the vegans will enjoy the plant-based non-dairy ice cream treats you selected. You put on your new yellow shoes, tucking the laces this way and that, hoping that the other birds will like your feathers.
Once we were children; we roamed like free electrons—impossible to contain. Now we sit, row by row, in the dim light of a bland conference room, bland coffee in our hands, talking about headcount and core competencies, and I look around. I long for the dappled shade of a tree, filled with glittering jewel birds, singing their songs of freedom.
I’m sitting 20 feet away from one of the best string quartets in the world, listening to them practice, and banter, and practice, when they mention hocket—”Does anyone know what a hocket is?” Yes, I think—I vaguely remember learning about that 20 years ago, when my face was as young and fresh as the other faces in the room. “It’s a Harry Potter term,” the violinist says, smiling.
Night falls, and the rushing white noise of the freeway drifts in through the window of the corner suite in a breezy, Spanish-style hotel in San Clemente. Morning breaks, and the ocean calls out, crashing waves surrounded by a clear blue rain-washed sky. Between the freeway and the ocean, a sunny, unassuming sidewalk café delivers an epic breakfast sandwich—crispy bacon, sourdough, and cheese—possibly the best of its kind.