Sunday, April 23, 2006


What do I remember? Recording music in the sweltering heat of a cramped studio in Namibia. Just the three of us, our instruments, and pages of music decaying in the torridity. Sweat dripped, staining notebooks. Sweat dripped, causing ink to run. Sweat dripped, smudging lyrics, altering them, rewriting them as we played. Stringed instruments had to be retuned throughout the day due to drastic changes in temperature and humidity. But we played, suffered through that lengthy session. You can still hear the heat, the near suffocation, in those recordings.

"We've managed to trap disomfort there in those tracks," you said.

Indeed, the day's swelter had infected the music - and we were happy for it.

What do I remember? The slushy streets of Manhattan in November and a much-needed lesson in the ownership of knowledge. I met you and another - one of your students - at a previously arranged coffee shop in the theatre district. Having got there first, making myself comfortable in front of the fireplace with a book, I stood up, embracing you in a warm hug before I introduced myself to your company. After the introduction, the student, her name was Elise, pointed down at my book and asked what I was reading.

"Critique of Dialectical Reason," I said, adding, "Sartre."

You looked at the student, beaming, and said: "See, I told you. Can you believe he spends his time reading such stuff?"

The student shook her head, looking at me in disbelief. "You read for pleasure the stuff we read out of necessity," she said. "Can't think why."

I smiled a little, catching the mischievous twinkle in your eye, and I turned back to the student, Elise. "Two people read the same book," I said, "one because she wants to and the other because she has to. Who's going to get more out of it?"

She didn't answer; she didn't have to. We all sat and ordered up a round of caffeinated beverages and flakey pastries. Talk spun naturally from philosophy to art and onto life in general, while wet snowflakes the size of silver dollars stuck to the windows before melting into individual streams running down that glass. Talk spun naturally in that way that it is wont to do when the right people get together. That day, that snowy day in New York, we were those right people.

What do I remember? A long, strange trip between the moon and the beach of a tiny lake in southern Ontario. High on mushrooms and E, feet pressed into soft sand, digging deeper and deeper, seeking the cool, never finding it. The twinkling stars above with their swollen coronas. Our naked elbows resting on hot sand, feeling each and every grain digging happily into skin. You were beside me, as we watched the others wading in the placid, blood-warm waters.

"How do you know if you've found the right woman?" you asked.

I considered this question for about an eternity. It was a good one, as all questions are when you're that high. I searched the stars for an answer then, and found one floating in the yellow starlight glistening off a tiny ripple on the lake. I let it drift all the way to shore before I picked it up with my eyes, let it settle into my brain, and allowed it to work its way out of my mouth.

"You'll know you've found the right woman," I said, "if she makes a good batch of pancakes."

I could see you nodding slowly in my peripheral. Understanding. Fully.

We were connected, then, all of us. Those resting on the beach, those wading in the waters, those exploring the trees - we were connected, then. Each of us with the same questions on our lips, and the same answers in our ears. Each a thread woven into the same length of cloth, rolled tightly into a bolt. Connected. One. Always.

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