It was an early afternoon meeting for which my colleagues were taking places around a horseshoe of conference tables. I had arrived before three-quarters of the others – a weekly meeting that someone else was in charge of convening.
The young woman who took the seat to my right crisply opened her laptop, slanting the screen so that it was easy for her to read under the ceiling fixtures. To the right of it she had her smart phone, propped so that she could catch an alert from her child’s day care or a text from her husband. A binder in which she kept the printed agenda for each meeting that had met so far this year was open before her. She took up her pen and waited.
No laptop in front of me, my smart phone face down, I straightened my stack of recent agendas and looked around me. No one within ten years of my age had a laptop on the table.
No one within ten years of the age of the young woman beside me had failed to bring one. The expressions on their faces sometimes coincided with a comment just offered by a member of the group; sometimes the expressions were cryptic, smiles hovering as they eyed their slanting screens.
The tap of keyboard punctuated the cordial meeting over the next forty-five minutes.
Later that evening I positioned a disk of vintage vinyl on the turntable in my apartment. Music composed by Aaron Copland for the 1940 film Our Town played in the semi-darkness. Without needing to hear the family names of Gibbs and Webb, I was imagining the characters that Thornton Wilder had created for the stage. New Hampshire everydayness felt very close. Its slowness. Its cycles. Its predictability.
Some cycle is opening up for me these days. I want to be among Gibbs and Webb families more often. I have less care for the agendas that others create and print and distribute.
I want to open windows onto night air.