Typically, the Baroque Period nauseates me. The harpsichord bouncing about in lively jubilation, the echoed runs leaping from left to right hand — it’s a dizzying party at which I’ve never belonged.
But something weird happened today as I drove down to Santa Barbara: I enjoyed Bach. Somewhere near Los Olivos, strands of mist highlighted shaded mountains, and like a Kauai landscape, the heavy grey sky invited me closer. The miles moved quickly; I tore at them steadily as the opus grew like a giant flower in my mind. What I saw was strangely misaligned with what I heard, and ordinarily, I’d never put the two together. But for those brief moments, they exposed an unusual, beautiful partnership.
When the piece was over I shut off the radio.
In silence and the slow lane, I preserved a feeling and wound through Los Padres National Forest until I hit Cold Spring Tavern. That’s where we agreed to meet, the friends I made in Argentina and I. It was a halfway point, excluding Caitlin’s trek from Michigan, and it held its distance from palm trees and oversized TVs.
It was the first time we’d all been in the same place in over two years and it was a biker bar.
By the fire we drank our beers and began to buy and sell stories for the price of laughter. There was so much to share but we effectively shrunk the years we spent apart. One by one, all at once, over the blues band that played in the corner, we talked. As men with tobacco stained mustaches ate their tri-tip sandwiches, we reminisced. As deer heads watched over us, and wooden planks supported us, we caught up. There, our South American conversations were out of context. What we heard was so different than the sights that surrounded us, but they fit and all was cozy and right.