So I have a completely blocked, deaf ear again, after an ear infection. It's an odd, disorienting, disconcerting feeling. The office phone rings and I pick it up reluctantly, hold it awkwardly to my left ear, the one I never use for this. And on the phone I hear the once familiar voice of a former colleague whom I haven't seen or heard for a decade and more. The fantasy passes through my mind that he's been here, that all that former social, working world I thought I left behind has still been right here all these years, been speaking all along into my other ear, the one I never listen with.