“If you have this big idea,” Wetherell said, “It might be easier to leave the company. You might feel this. I’m not sure. But someone might feel like they should just leave the company rather than finding a way to explore it within Google and then have Google say in a couple years ‘It doesn’t matter how many millions of people are using the thing, we’ve got larger concerns.’”
“I suspect that if I were Google leadership I would be concerned that people are not going to be as free with amazingly great ideas as they would be before,” he added. “I would be concerned that I wouldn’t be encouraging people to build treasured things,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s what’s happened.”
When I awake in the shade, I feel the sting of the rope hammock, which had been pressing into my now too red thighs and calves. I sit up slowly, reach up - by instinct - to rub my eyes. Stop myself by habit, and then laugh a little at the hesitation.
It is OK now.
I rub them. Hard. Then open and my pupils narrow as I look up into the bright blue sky.
There is nothing else, just blue.
I peel out of the hammock, out of the shade of the trees, standing for only a second on the soft, hot sand. Letting it burn into my heels and toes, the beach filling the gaps between skin and earth. It’s so quiet and calm here, it’s hard to imagine a tide had ever rose up and beat the sand back and forth to leave ripples and creases, or any such impression.
But the sand burned, so I step back, groggy, find my flip flops and clumsily shove my feet in.
Off in the distance, I hear the beat of a drum and the low notes of a tune that though muffled seems much too energetic for the scene around me.
Sky, sand, and water so gentle there is barely a movement you could call a wave. It is more like a swimming pool - in color, too - that’s now being slightly disturbed by a breeze.
But there is so little breeze here.
I glance up and to the right, and again only see sky. It is a strange feeling to be disconnected. No alerts, no sense of being in the know. No idea the outside temperature (it was just hot), or what else may be going on in the world.
It was so quiet, that for the first day or two I wasn’t sure if I ever relaxed or just felt lonely.
I sink into the bar stool. Jorge humors me again with a pina colada. It was all I was ordering, but nothing screamed vacation like one, I thought. He even puts a little umbrella in it, a cherry, and a floater on top.
That hazy, drinking-in-the-day headache faded away again to the continued numbing buzz. It was the only way I’ve found so far to work through the pain of the other headache - something like eye strain maybe - that continued imbalanced state where your eyes are used to a behavior, and now you’ve taken it away.
No alerts. No Glass… no lenses in my eyes.
A dizziness in its place.
The feel of the wind in the face, and the dryness it brings to eyes normally protected.
A odd sensation of greeting the bartender, the hotel staff, the other guests and speaking to them directly, no distractions to pull away from. Their eyes, plain and brown, or gray, or green, staring right back at you. They, absorbing your words, nodding. Every syllable now like a performance. You’re on stage. You have the audience’s full attention. What do you say?
“How hot is it Jorge?,” I ask, dying for a number as if it could somehow give me a sense of my place in this world, now that I’m so lost.
“It’s 90 today. It’s always 85 or 90,” he says.
“Except when it rains, maybe,” Jorge adds, turning to pull out Coronas for the thin, darkly tanned Italian couple draped in white towels, hair glistening from their swim.
“How do you know when it will rain?”
Up, and to the right I glance again.
Stop it. I scold myself for the reflex.
“You feel,” Jorge explains in halting English. “The air, it smells like rain.” Gesturing, waving his hands a little. “There are clouds,” he says.
Like a child. Does he think I don’t know rain comes from clouds?
“But how do you know it will rain the weekend ahead?”
“TV. Or so it rains,” he grins. “What does it matter? It’s always sunny after.”
“But what if a hurricane comes?”
“How do you know?”
“The news on TV,” he says. (I keep forgetting they still watch TV here.) A pause. “We leave.”
Then, leaning towards me, a whisper.
“You take them out? The eyes? The electric eyes?,” he asks quietly now, conspiratorially, pointing at my face. “The guests they come here, they take them out. They don’t do well,” he says.
I nod silently.
“You drink, it helps.” He turns again, makes another, slides it my way.
I smile, he returns it.
I’m sure the staff here is not supposed to bother guests with their curiosity. They’ve been told, clearly: Don’t stare, don’t ask questions.
I saw the way the girl at the front desk glanced at me as the gleam of light hit her own unadorned eyes. Oh! her expression was fleeting, her mouth just poised on the cusp of being open and gasping, before she shielded it in the immobile mask of customer service. But as my eyes darted around the lobby, taking in the the beige of the walls and the big windows open to the sea, with the little roofs of the huts dotting through the green of the palms just below the sky, I felt the weight of her sidelong glances.
When I got to my room - red tiled floors and heavy sea-eaten wooden doorways, light linens, a wicker dresser and nightstand and not much more - I threw my bag down, pull out my toiletries, walked to the brown and white square tiled bathroom, and removed the lenses.
I looked up into my own eyes, gripping the sides of sink tightly. They were just green now, and not shining.
I took a step back. Disoriented.
I fell to the floor, then crawled to the bed.
I spent the first half hour of my vacation on top of starchy sheets, staring at the ceiling fan above me. Watching it spin around - whip, clink, whip - the chain rattling ever so slightly with each rotation. I stared and shook while the feeling that I had somehow ripped out a part of my body - painlessly, but achingly missing - slowly subsided to a duller jolt, then the occasional one, and finally left only the headache I numb now with fruit juices and rum.
It had been ten years.
No one removes them now. No one.
I mean you can, but there’s no need. Perfectly safe. Even the eye doctors who used to chastise us for sleeping in contacts were on board. Perfectly safe. The material is even better than your own eye. Which now that I think about it, is almost sacrilegious.
We were gods now, making our own creations out of what once was humanity.
Of course, who goes into to optometry any more for love of eye health? It’s incredibly lucrative these days. Better than brain surgeons, these new engineers.
It’s the fourth day, and still I’m glancing up and to the right. And still I’m dumbfounded when nothing’s there.
And with the steady stream of drinks, the sun, and the naps, I’m feeling a little slow myself. Maybe I am a child who needs explanations about clouds and where the rain comes from. The sky, my dear, the rain comes from the sky.
I walk to the water again and then into the bathtub of clear glass. Cooled but not cold. Further and further. Another step towards the horizon. The chill of the water over your head. The blackness of being beneath it all, eyes closed, surrounded in liquid. Not breathing. Barely moving. Floating in the barely-there current. Suspended.
Then up again.
Rub eyes and open to the bright white hot sun and impossibly blue sky. The sheer audacity of the trees to be so green, the beach glowing as if backlit. The absolute stillness of the heat, and nothing but a whisper of wind through the leaves of the palms. The movement of a hand through water, lifting up into the air. The drip drip drip as each piece of ocean is pulled off the body and back to its home.
The sky is just so blue.
And for a moment, I am really alive.