Ben Harper asks me to sit beside him onstage at an outdoor concert. I hold the guitar on my lap while he’s got the neck, tuning and plucking strings like a master.
He tells the audience that the first time he met me was at one of his shows, where I was backstage and he was just arriving.
He explains that he was a bit late, I had noticed the time, and my first words to him upon meeting were, “You’re not here yet.”
He laughs in his recounting, keeps sounding stings while looking at me, and says, “So I thought to myself, ‘well, then, I want to get here.'”
Morphing, as dreams do, into mirage-like segues that fade one into the next, Ben Harper leaves the stage into the crowd and I’m left to sit with his guitar.
And then, my husband appears offering a bouquet of flowers. Gifting them for “Jessica” not for “my wife.” Which is somehow understood by both of us that sometimes the title matters. Newlyweds may enjoy trying new ones on, but it’s important to remember the first name of your spouse.
As if on cue, just this rousing side of dreamland, my son garbles “Jessica” (not “Mom”) in a sleepy call from his bedroom.
In the waking world I may be an artist still tuning the instrument, looking toward the masters of the craft.
I am a wife. A mother. Both of these, still learning.
And time, it’s an illusion, fooling, but ever-present.
Jessica is still not fully here yet. But trying to tune in.