Alcohol aids understanding.
  November 14, 2004

As we sit in a cavernous conference room talking, listening and yawning, I am caught in compulsive mind game.  I see the faces of the people around me the way they looked when they were children.  A serious girl to my right, who read a lot of books and didn't like to go out with friends; a haughty boy to my left, brows knit, arguing with his teacher.  Then I see them grow up until like me they find their way into this room and now they sit and argue, boys and girls and the grown-ups they've become, the entirety of their lives compressed into the present moment, the past joined with now.  From this perspective it becomes hard to take the proceedings seriously.  I lose the thread of the discussion.  That doesn't bother me much: there is no Ariadne at its end.

Later I walk alone through dark cobblestone streets.  They are deserted and quiet. I feel so happy that I stop and spin around, and stand and listen to nothing just to stretch out the moment. Here's a bookshop with antique maps on display.  It, too, is dark and quiet, books sleeping on their shelves until opening time.

On the plane home, I read with my good eye and sip white wine from a clear plastic cup.  At one point, the cup comes between the page and my bad eye.  Suddenly the blurry lines snap into amber, wavering focus.

For a while, I read my book through the wine lens and smile.

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