I’m listening to “Wind” by Ibrahim Maaloouf. I am inside and outside of the music at the same time. It’s smoky, bluesy jazz, the sort that uses rich, full notes to have a conversation with your soul about emptiness. I am acutely aware of my aching distance from this bar scene, this cherished scar.
The air is blue. Maybe that’s the lighting or maybe that’s the hanging cigarette smoke, curling and twisting slowly. Maybe that’s my mood. Maaloouf’s muted trumpet is the instrument most like a mournful loon echoing across a lake at night.
The floor is sticky with splashed beer and spilled grenadine. We swirl our drinks, making them last. We all sway slightly in Maaloouf’s wind, to the feelings the musician stirs. Each breath is heat and lime, igniting need and imagination. Rum is a pickpocket, slipping away with our shyness. The city makes us turn away from each other, avoiding eye contact. Maaloouf, in this bar, now, lets us meet each other again.
The suits are sharp and the ties are leather and thin. The fedoras are not ironic. The curvy woman at the bar wears fire engine lipstick. She looks my way as she sucks an ice cube. Cue glances that turn to smouldering gazes and flirtatious smiles. We are each other’s next glorious mistake. Once we leave this room, anything could happen.
Remember when anything could happen?
The waiting, melancholy rain makes me want to linger over our drinks, contemplating possibilities. There is sadness, but it’s the romantic kind to revel in. It’s okay to be honest about my feelings on a night like this. I won’t be so free to be honest again until I’m in my seventies.
When I listen to Maaloouf, I’m not even thirty. I am awake and I won’t even think of making my way home to my own bed until dawn. Twenty-six? Twenty-seven? The slide has begun, sure, but I can still say my potential isn’t wasted. Not yet.
I wish I played jazz. I could still write but I could riff. I could play the same song over and over and my audience would plead to hear it again, exactly the same. I could produce art in three or four-minute sprints of genius instead of book-length marathons. You’d dig it and I’d be cool. Every night would be this night, real and unreal, a scene from a movie before the complications ensue.
If I were Maaloouf, I’d hear the applause from the stage. From my desk…. No.
I’m listening to “Wind” by Ibrahim Maaloouf. There is sadness, but it’s the romantic kind to revel in. I can almost taste the santo libre.