Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 124

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Master Blend, Office Coffee

You never know the moments that’ll stick with you while you’re living them. Well, okay, sometimes you do – your first taste of ice cream, sweet things that don’t go away. But for all the rest, it’s like filling up a slow-cooker, so only years on do you know what your life truly tasted like.

There was a koi pond at Salem College, about six feet long, three feet wide. I say ‘was’ but I assume it’s still there. The pond was next to the student affairs office. It was in the middle of the small campus. There were two benches beside it and a bluster of greenery poking over one end. On hot days, the greenery attracted hornets and flies. On cooler days, it drew in the mosquitoes.

I remember that pond vividly, even though it’s been years since I’ve seen it. I went to a summer camp on Salem’s Campus when I was 17, but I first met the pond a year before. This was 2006. I was visiting a friend a grade ahead of me. She was at Governor’s School for orchestra, she played the violin. I was young and dumb and had brought roses for her performance but I left them in the car. That’s what you do when you’re 16 – you leave behind what’s most important.

After the concert, we hung around for half an hour getting to know each other again. It had been a year since I’d seen her and everything changes. We walked along the campus walks and ended up by the koi pond. Some of her friends had gathered there to celebrate the concert. They were orchestra kids so everyone was in tuxes except for me. I felt out of touch. I was a Christian in Tibet, holding hard to my own foreign faith.

I couldn’t tell you what any of us talked about. I couldn’t tell you what I did or didn’t say to the girl. But I remember the pond – cut to triangles by the amber lampposts, water running back and forth like aired blankets – it looked like where I wanted to be, and the great gulf of all the oceans that kept me from it.

The next year, at the camp myself, I spend much more time around the koi pond, and most notably I recall running away from yellow-jackets. Things change. But nothing digs so deep that it scoops out your most important memories.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

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An old silent pond…

A frog jumps into the pond,

splash! Silence again.

Matsuo Basho

Coffee Log, Day 270

Hi.

Coffee: French Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

Thanksgiving feels like it was yesterday. Instead, it’s three days from now.

Holidays are like a spring cleaning: you beat the rugs on the balcony; you clear out the corners.

There was a little while I was on crutches. This was years ago, ten of them actually. It was summer. I was in High School. I was spending the summer at an NC academic camp in Winston Salem called Governor’s School. A six week program, I tore my ACL in the first week playing ping pong. It’s not that I was good at ping pong, rather that I was bad at it.

So they stuck me on crutches for a month. It was awkward, I was young. I felt like a sore thumb – I hurt and I stood out. But I made do.

The way the classes were set up, everyone took two a day and then had a couple free periods. You could fill those with homework or seminars or whatever else. My schedule left me this big block of hours in the morning, 10am to 1pm. There wasn’t much going on and not a lot of people out. Hobbling already, I got stir crazy.

I started taking walks to Ollie’s Bakery. Ollie’s is now closed. They served fluffy scones and vanilla lattes. They had a corner of a road about a mile away, a little brick building, not enough room to think or worry when you were in there, you’d get full on the smells. The trip took me through Old Salem and across a creek. Then it was a hop and skip through this faded industrial district. It wasn’t a long walk, but it was arduous on the crutches. Again, I made do.

I’m remembering this now because it’s important to remember that first time you felt independent. Holidays will put a lot of old sweaters on you: that scratchy-wool love. They’ll show you everyone that has a hand in your pot. They’ll also show you who’s missing.

But no matter how much your family or friends or people you wish were around might matter, when you’ve cleared the clutter and put all the boxes away it’s just you in an apartment, early morning, a torn knee. You can walk to the cafe or sit at home. Either way, the joy is only your own.

Novel Count: 10,411 words

Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker

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He fell off the table like a crab looking for the sea.

Charles Bukowski