Reveries Come in the Form of Coffee

城空而邦寂,奈之何人处天地间,上下求索兮。固行于山之东,岭之西,堤之南,溟之北,经纬纵横齐于日月更替。是城也,车水马龙,然纵使巷井间万人言笑,穿梭其中而不闻片语只字,此非谓神旷则世邈乎?

I knew something wasn’t right the moment I woke up this morning, because for a brief minute I have thought my ceiling looked funny. Why were there strands of spider silk dangling and wavering here and there, especially at its four corners? They weren’t even proper looking strands as most of them have caught nothing but dust, which made them look even nastier and flimsier, like upside-down reeds wobbling haphazardly in the wind that smelt of dead fish. The paint wasn’t white, too; it was about 500 Kelvin warmer than should be. All that was bizarre since I had never paid any attention to my ceiling and now that I have noticed its imperfections, all I could think of was where to get a ladder and how to make it decent.

I was supposed to do something in the morning but I forgot what it was; I did, however, remember I had named my cellphone alarm the night before the thing that I needed to do. So not intending to crawl out of bed one minute sooner, I continued staring at the funny ceiling. It was not as flat as I thought it would be as well.

When finally my alarm went off, I was reminded of an order to pick up.

Geneva on weekends was quite cozy as the size of the city fitted my predilection for the right mix of business and pleasure. Live here long enough and one would develop an ineffable attachment to its unique push and pull, and in today’s case, it was more on the pushing side of the spectrum—at least for the time being.

The “Divorce Club”, a nickname I’d assigned to the café whose patrons were all middle aged men, on the opposite side of the street already had its first group of regulars playing billiards when I drew my curtains open; two from the cohort facing my direction caught the movement of my curtain and looked at me with a smirk. In their minds, they were probably thinking how stupid it was to waste a fine morning sleeping in, and in my mind, I was just betting how long before one of them ordered a beer, and then some. As I put on my trousers a pigeon flew by my window and discharged something unpleasant from its south.

There were too many people on the streets, too. As I threaded my way through the busy crowds my head was playing back the movie I am Legend. I didn’t know if it was because the sale season was still ongoing or simply because the weather was nice—maybe it was both. If instead of push it was pull, I could imagine myself trotting about in the sun and buying some shiny baubles to gather dust for later, like those dangling and wavering spider silk on my 500-Kelvin-warmer ceiling.

The melancholy didn’t end yet. I made the wrong choice for my first morning coffee between Le Mélange Maison and La Pure Origine at the bookshop where I’d picked up my order as the latter tasted like the bitterest kind of Chinese medicine with a pinch of ground coffee thrown in. A crying baby who was well within my earshot didn’t make my divine ritual of coffee drinking any easier, channeling my most overwhelming desire to bite my knuckles until they were crushed to smithereens. Fortunately, I was one to drink two coffees every morning and Le Mélange Maison cleansed me of my then growing aspiration to burrow deep down and tunnel far away to Siberia.

Sipping on my savory coffee, I wondered if the book was still as delightful as I remembered it to be, and to my heart’s content—It was a queer, sultry summer…

It has always brought a smile on my face every time I read it, and this time, it was most definitely a bigger smile.

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