Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 44

Hi.

Coffee: Americano, Caribou Coffee; Gray skies and wet roads, I always feel like driving after a rain; so I drove to Caribou and got coffee; their intercom was broken so they had a big handwritten sign that said “Say HELLO! and we’ll hear you;” I said ‘hey’ and they took my order; waiting for the drink, I caught three baristas laughing; one of them caught me spying through the drive-thru; she buttoned right up and said “Here you go, have a good one,”; I could hear that laughter like blue birds as I drove away; But what am I saying: the coffee was good, mellow, like a dark chocolate bar that’s still got a bit of sugar in it, enough to sweeten out the rough notes, the roots, the tang that comes with anything that grows out of soil.

I went to Chapel Hill. A was in town, I haven’t seen him in years. He’d grown his hair out and had it slicked back like someone who’s seen some things. It was a good look but I kept forgetting to tell him that.

We spent a few hours re-getting to know each other. A’s still in school, though he’ll be finished soon, and we were with J who’s damn close to a full fledged doctor (well, he’s already a doctor, but not quite in the working world). Meanwhile I’m cracking jokes. I don’t know how to react when someone asks me what I’m doing. I say something witty and cynical about working for a bank. I talk about the starving artist that I am, though I exaggerate the starving part and maybe the artist too. Whatever honest question they might have I’ve got a comeback. I’m quick today. I’m snappy. Everyone’s laughing. I’m doing well. I’m not saying a single thing without color.

Isn’t it strange how much we lie to our friends?

After walking them back to their Air BnB, I stroll through the luscious houses around UNC’s campus. The trees are green and the flowers are in bloom. I’m caught in seven years ago when I used to live near here. I remember walking late nights from our apartment into town. It misses me – my old life bundled in some other train, heading a different direction, gone without stopping – I got off track. And that’s a good thing, I think, so I keep going, trying to stay present, but I’m in and out of different years the whole way home. There’s the spot where A and I used to talk about society. There’s where we’d meet R for dinner. There’s the auditorium that H would sing at, where I’d feel uncomfortable trying to get whatever woman I was with to love me, and there’s the art museum that can’t contain those nice memories of when I met my cousins, or any early days I used to visit, because it’s full up with one simple afternoon spent walking around with you. That’s the freshest memory of all of them. I walk right past it too.

I start thinking: who else had I been lying to? Ten years of train stations locked and boarding in this one small college town and somehow I was always saying goodbye to the wrong things. I’d tell you I’d be happier in Michigan. I’d tell you I’d drink through my liver. I’d tell you all these stories of distant people and places – some happy, some sad – and hop in the car to carry me off wherever. But when the dust had settled and none of the trees or highways remembered me, I’d come back to the same place and do it all over again. An endless cycle of witty one-liners, mis-directed promises. Vibrant and cyclical like a southern Spring.

Novel Count: 36,889

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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Again and again, the cicada’s untiring cry pierced the sultry summer air like a needle at work on thick cotton cloth.

Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses

Coffee Log, Day 212

Hi.

Coffee: Drip, Carolina Coffee Shop; it was sour enough to know it had been sitting out for a while. The restaurant was busy. Our waitress said she’d been on her feet since 8 am.

I’ve been eating at Carolina Coffee Shop for eighteen years, first going there every now and then on trips into Chapel Hill with my parents. I met my parents there today. It crowded. There was a UNC football game so I had to park in Carrboro and walk up. It was sunny, humid, but mostly pleasant. There were kids in blue polos, dads in blue polos, girls dressed better than their dates. I walked fast and checked my reflection in the windows. Lots of unfamiliar windows, new buildings, I looked five years younger in them. “I used to live here,” I kept thinking. You only get disgusted by places that grow up without you.

About 80% of the times I’ve eaten at CCS – which must be in the dozens – they’ve sat me in a booth on the western wall facing the door. The restaurant’s been renovated over and over but they keep on putting me there. The bar’s in arm’s reach. We’re halfway to the bathroom, halfway to the doors. If you swung a pendulum from the antiquated ceiling, it’d hit me square at the apex. I assume it’s cosmological: put me anywhere else and someone in China slips off a ladder; two-headed dogs are born; or all the whales beach on chilly coasts south of Anchorage.

Today, the view was my family on the booth-back, the struggling waitresses, foot traffic on Franklin. Yesterday, it was the same. For everything that’s changing, this one thing can’t. Everyone you’ve said goodbye to, all in one place.

I got the eggs benedict but traded ham for avocado. It was good. Next time, I’ll probably order the same.

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith

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“How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss
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Coffee Log, Day 89

Hi.

Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s brand; Old friend. I’ve bought this roast a few times now. It’s not great, more like comfort food – biscuits in the morning, Taco Bell after a long day. I like bad coffee. I like it because it’s bad.

It’s hard knowing how to shop anymore. Yesterday I got coffee with a friend. She mentioned Starbucks, I mentioned that I’ve been boycotting it since the expulsion of two black men for no honest reason and the company’s tepid response in the aftermath. We went to Sugarland instead and she said they’ve got their own sets of seedy stories.

Money is a motivator. Give it to someone to get them to dance, hold it back and they’ll dance differently. I firmly believe that 21st century protest starts and stops on economics. But how do you do it right when there’s so little clarity to business practices? I buy dinner from my favorite joint and I’ve got no clue whose hands tilled the land behind my food. Were they well-paid and cared for? Or were they chipped under harsh sun, hush-hush, hidden labor, exploitation?

I’ve been on this topic a lot lately because I think it’s relevant. The past two years pulled a lip back – that plastic lid on your morning yogurt – to show a mushy mess of disadvantaged peoples and shady business. I think the next step is to push for clarity in business in politics. It’s hard to fight, period. It’s harder to fight what you don’t know.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” – Virginia Woolf

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Coffee Log, Day 83

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand

Sitting in a parking deck in Chapel Hill. It wasn’t here a year ago. Things change, this town changes more than most. Summer rush  walking roadsides that don’t exist anymore, catching blood-hot clouds, dodging snakes.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fund the Coffee Log 🙂 – https://ko-fi.com/livesaywriting

Before now, I’ve always taken my mixes out to the car and listened to them in the parking lot. I still do that, but more so now I’m listening to it on the Beat box, and I think people should give it at least a listen and check it out and see what it is. – Dr. Dre

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Coffee Log, Day 63

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; Last day of it! All in all, an acceptable coffee. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. One of those part-time jobs that take you through a rough, quick season.

I took tea in Chapel Hill last night. The town’s changed. I’ve been saying that every visit for four years or more. There was a time when I lived in Chapel Hill. Our apartment was off the highway. Sometimes we’d walk across the highway and across the train tracks and through Carrboro to Franklin, to one or two different blue-awning buildings, to have a drink or spend too much on dinner.

We got caught in a thunderstorm once. The wind took Franklin like a frightened mother. We drank pints and watched the cockroaches hurry over the counter. We were the only customers at four p.m.. I didn’t have a job. I was a Duke kid in a UNC town. She was a part-time au pair. Years later, we went back and got caught in another storm. I had an umbrella. I had to hold her to keep her under. For me it was fire, for her – well, something pretty tame.

But last night I mostly got lost in other memories. Like Chapel Hill, life keeps changing.

Currently Reading:
The Pardoner’s Tale, by John Wain

Fund the Coffee Log 🙂 – https://ko-fi.com/livesaywriting  

“It was slow and unconscious immersion, but here I am, irrevocably lovelorn, just like many others.” – Linnie Greene, excerpt from her story featured in 27 Views of Chapel Hill (Found on the Chapel Hill Visitors Bureau website; inexplicably, Linnie Greene is an old friend and I didn’t expect to see a quote from her)

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