Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 67

Hi.

Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

I stayed in the hammock long after everyone else had gone and even after my host had left to get ready for bed. It was 3 in the morning. I was 18. I was up thinking of stories.

Earlier, as in during the school year, I’d been at this same house sitting on this same porch (though the hammock wasn’t there, they strung that up for the summer) and talked a big game about how you could make a story of anything. I was trying to be encouraging. My host – we’ll call her the Gymnast – had a big speech coming up. It was at our graduation. She was co-valedictorian. She was scared.

So I said: “Take this: a ham sandwich. But the only topping is mustard. Sound interesting?”

She said: “No.”

I went on and on about that sandwich, building up a history with the bread and meat, a poignant love of mustard that had to do with an absent father. She laughed. It was a terrible story and I hadn’t proved anything, but at least it was fun.

In the hammock, I was eaten by mosquitoes. There was netting but some still got in. We’d been coming here weekly, me and all my friends, dying a last summer bleach blonde and bloodshot with late nights before we dispersed to different colleges. We hung out on the porch and in her basement, the Gymnast’s home. We all crowded in the hammock after her parents were asleep because none of us had gotten too cynical about touching another person’s skin.

I tossed and turned. It took a long time for the Gymnast to come back. She was brushing her teeth, I think. A perfect opportunity but I couldn’t think of anything. I knew I needed a better story but it all kept coming up ham and mustard.

When you’re young and not too poor, it’s easy to compress the universe into something pocket-sized. You take it with you everywhere you go, adding bits of lint, fiddling with it when you’re nervous. Back then, I was always nervous so I was always fiddling. I’d look at the moon and think it was two feet tall. I’d talk to the Gymnast and see a lock and a key and something precious behind a door I couldn’t figure out how to open.

I wanted to commemorate that feeling; I wanted the Gymnast to feel it too.

Finally, she came back and sat beside me, just us, she was in blue pajamas. She said: “Hey.” I said “I want to write something.” We sat together another half hour until it was impossible to ignore the mosquitoes, then she walked me out – past the kitchen where we’d baked together, the hallway she drew me in the first time, and out the front door. We said goodbye on her front lawn. I got in an old car that doesn’t exist as a car anymore (scrapped down) and drove home.

Whenever I’m feeling anxious, or stuck with writer’s block, I fiddle with my pocket and get lost in another universe: a dreamy one where I figured out a better story than a ham sandwich; an impossible world that doesn’t get past 18; some time and place where I knew exactly what to say.

Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

What a weary time those years were — to have the desire and the need to live but not the ability.

Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye


Coffee Log, Day 114

Hi.

Coffee: Organic Sumatra Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand

I looked in the mirror above the cash drawers. It’s one of those big round mirrors so you can see the whole lobby warped like a fish eye. The angle was strange. I saw the back of my head. My hair’s thinning right on top, tonsure. I’m certainly not young anymore.

I have anxieties. What if I don’t find anyone to love me before I’m ugly? Ugly is owned individually. We put the beauty in each other – I see you and you’re lovely – but again, ugly is personal. I’ve got gray in my hair. I’m slowly balding. Recently, I’ve had to shave around my earlobes because there are a couple black wiry things. It’s getting harder and harder to keep the weight off.

I’m terrified of how I’m changing. I remember watching the five dogs of my childhood grow fat and old and die. It was a little different for each of them, but they all had more hollow eyes before the fall. I see myself in ten years as a hollow-eyed dog. I’m scared to bare the burden of life in the world, especially this world, one of so much responsibility, where I have it relatively good and so many Americans don’t; immigrants take their lives in federal prisons.

But we all put the beauty in each other. I pause and think it over. I guess what I’m really scared of is growing ugly before I’m able to love myself.

Currently Reading:
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson

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

“I often stood in front of the mirror alone, wondering how ugly a person could get.” – Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye

IMG_1239