After a long week, I am on a plane again. Perhaps like monk Matthieu Ricard, “For me a flight is just a brief retreat in the sky.” Or at least that is the justification I make to myself for constantly flying from one place to another. I am leaving behind a curious weekend — one that took me back into time. Normally, I don’t look back; I usually find myself focusing on what’s ahead by worrying less about what could have been.
But I listen to Nitin Sawhney, I lose sense of the control I have on my approach to life. He makes me contemplative, melancholic and at times wistful for a life that I know I don’t want or need. I realize that’s what music is supposed to do — make you feel special things you don’t necessarily desire to experience and deal with feelings that one has buried inside himself or herself for a time. Tides (from album Beyond The Skin) is one of those songs.
Nearly 17 years ago, Peter Rojas and his girlfriend (and now wife) came to visit me in my Russian Hill apartment. It was a party – well, every day was a party in that age of Internet innocence and dotcom bubble. Arriving with him was a young shy girl: tall, blonde, quiet and hiding behind her sister Jill. She was Katie — you all might know her as Katie Fehrenbacher who like Peter and me, wanted to be a writer when she grew up. And that’s how I met someone who has been a presence in my life for that long.
Our paths diverged but we stayed in touch. In April 2006, she talked about wanting a job at Business 2.0; then I told her about my plans for GigaOM. Without any hesitation, she signed up as employee number one — though I didn’t have anything figured out. She was the first in, and last one out. The company went under in March 2015 and she was still part of the adventure. Low key, drama-free and exceptionally talented, she was the rigid part of the moral fiber of our tiny editorial experiment. When they ask me what is loyalty, I point to Katie.
This past weekend, that girl I met while still in her teens married the man of her dreams, Eric Klotz. The relationship blossomed and grew and I got to see it first hand. The ceremony was symbolic, for these two have a bond that goes beyond the artificial labels we humans have created.
The wedding was held among the towering trees in the Stern Grove. It was a simple ceremony but one that caused my heart to twitch a little, and feel wistful of days that seem so long ago.
Liz (Gannes) came with her baby girl and hubby, Mike. Chris (Albrecht) came from Seattle. And with them they brought memories. It was an emotional weekend: to see a young friend grow up and get married and thus move into a new phase of her life.
We used to joke that I was her work-dad, and perhaps that is why I had a little tear in my eye.
Why do we feel wistful? Because we have happiness and joy associated with certain phases and places. The years following and 2007 were amongst my happiest; a lot had to do with working with Katie, Liz, and later with Chris. I can’t say that it was all strawberries and cream, but in general we got to figure it all out together.
The start of a journey is full of innocence, possibilities and prospect of adventure. The start of a startup has this feeling, that feeling you get from smelling the first drops of rain on parched earth. Our adventure was about a new ideology of news and information. It was uncharted waters and there was an innocence of discovery. The relationships we form as groups are what create lasting memories.
Walking back from the wedding, I fell into an conversation with Chris, wondering loud if it was even possible to do a blog post that wasn’t “professional” or a podcast that wasn’t “produced” or video that was less than slick. I guess the journey we embarked on has come a full circle.
It isn’t clear what time it is — the plane has been aloft for a while. I have put aside my phone, hidden my watch, as if to numb my mind from the incessant tick-tock of daily life. All I hear is Sawhney’s album, Migration on my headphones.
June 11, 2017. In the skies!
All photos by me (except the last one by Felix) using my Leica SL and Leica Summilux f1.4/50mm-SL