Coffee in the quiet
First coffee in the morning, without rushing. Italian Roast, freshly brewed. The aroma, savored before I swallow. I will take my time. With everything. Even writing. Heaven.
It is Saturday. There will be no lunch making at 7:30 a.m., no sluggish adolescent to poke and prod to get him to stir, no jostling for jackets and keys, no worries about being late. This is cause for a moment of celebration, however private. I let the words breathe: I made it through another week.
I sip my coffee again, pressing the cup to my breast bone as the heat spreads across my chest and warms me.
How many mugs and cardboard cups have I held this way to the giggles of my boys when they were little, and for so many years before?
I pad into the living room and there are no teenage bodies on the floor or couch, no one sleeping on the mattress in the closet – despite the spontaneous gathering which took place last evening, late.
The front door is locked, per my reminder. The back door as well. Empty boxes are spilling over the top of an overfilled Hefty bag: girl scout cookies, microwavable lasagnas. Otherwise, everything appears to be in order.
I can exhale.
Coffee with a friend
First sips of coffee together, after a year. Perhaps two. With my old friend, more than a week ago. She makes her coffee strong, and with an edge of chicory that I love because it holds the lilt of her voice, her home town, the cadence of her conversation. Being here is difficult, and easy. She makes it more easy than difficult.
Memories flood in; it’s not to be helped and I have to accept it. Her living room is the same yellow, her kitchen is the same store of wonderful aromas, her dining table is the same as my own – a place to eat, a place to pay bills. We are not the same, and yet we are. No longer young, our children no longer running gleefully across adjacent yards to pluck up Easter eggs. Time passes. It is the natural order of things.
Now we share coffee again and this time the hour is lighter. Then she swabs a tiny spot on my hip, and I think of bridges, more solidly built than I imagined. I wonder when I will feel the injection but she tells me she’s done. “Never let a doctor give you a shot,” she laughs. And we go on talking.
Coffee in Paris
In the Paris apartment I wake refreshed. It is a consolation to have these days alone, without deadlines, the need to speak, the need to drive, the need to think – about anything in particular. Yes, without the children. Yes, to nothing planned at all and whatever may come.
Even jet lagged, here, I am sharper. In the morning, I measure out spoonfuls from the bag of Carte Noire, then pour the water boiled on the burner, and push down on the top of the mechanism. Fresh coffee in a French press.
Then there will be writing on the narrow balcony in cool air, barefoot and unaware of time. Fully aware that this is a moment that will not last, but it drifts slowly enough to become a gathering of moments to stock like inventory, to imprint into memory. To call upon.
Espresso in the afternoon
I don’t think it’s my imagination. My thoughts have been dislodged from their casing for so many months, shaken loose from their cranial crown, from the housing beneath which they belong, taken for granted until they defect. I send up flares and dispatch search parties. I lasso what I can, corral the concepts and consonants into a small pen. I know they may scatter again, and it worries me.
I feel them closer now, if not quite home. They show no signs of departing. And I am relieved.
It is spring and I cannot fathom the disappearance of six months. I am aware of moments, and periods of blur. I have writing to tell me that I am here, that I was here all along, but today I feel that I am here, sitting in bed and watching the branches of a tree bend in the morning March wind. I have been up and moving around, sipping my coffee, pacing the cluttered confines of my home. The clock confirms that I slept seven hours, but more – my body tells me so. I do not feel strong, but I feel stronger.
Do we ever know what we take for granted until it is gone from us? A friend, a lover, an hour of quiet? A child, sleeping? The taste of memory?
This afternoon I will rummage the pantry to find a special coffee maker, for a tiny brew of espresso made on the stove top. It is a day for treats, and this is my plan: sip and savor, stretch and savor, read and savor.