Black night, crisp air. Sharp turn, speeding fast on my newly-aired tires; legs stretched after pique turns and rond de jamb, felt strong. Anticipation—how will the night go? An unexpected outing. Small group, faces familiar and unfamiliar. From afar the scene akin to a Parisian street corner: deep opaque shadows of human forms, half-illuminated by the light of the wine bar inside. Quiet talk, undercurrent of enlightened enthusiasm detectable. Smooth transition into group after pursuing a glass of wine. Intimate bar: warm-yellow light, deep red walls, open-faced bartender with simple yet striking features (a beauty more comforting than intimidating), strum of classical guitar swirling about as steam from a pot of tea.
Wine acquired, back to the night. The girl to my left wide-eyed, eloquent, calm. Posture emanating solid sense of self, lacked sting of conceit. Practiced conversationalist, hopeful in outlook if a bit naïve. D. to my right unmoody and fresh, patient. Talk became less partitioned, more circular as the night aged. How remarkable the night felt, we all agreed. My proposed guessing-game of temperature to encourage playfulness, spontaneity. Past histories, secret communication paths noticed—took note to explore later.
The wide-eyed girl announced to the group a supreme player had begun, that we should all come in to listen. She commands because she is sure of being followed. True confidence or the spirit of the wine? To interior warmth—to listen, not to speak. The reverent stillness of the room: opposite me four men in separate chairs, D. in front, hunched. And the man with the classical guitar, who closed his eyes as he played expertly, almost flawlessly, with great emotion and an evident fervor for life. Such zeal alarming at first, almost off-putting: I an intrusion, he the practiced, all-knowing displayer of sentiment. Across me a spectacle of those who truly listen and admire. Their esteem a gateway to judgment-less viewing. And then the bloom of the music.
Second glass, time slows: to the night again as the stirrings of goodbye commence. Talk of capitals, culture of distant lands and the need for knowing more facts. The unease of parting ways, where to go? What to do? More wine for later? The address, what’s the address? I back home to work and responsibility and a pup in need of company. To the softness of clean sheets, the familiarity of sleeping alone after the novelty of an evening unfamiliar.