Barista Time Travel

Yesterday I met my old barista Pippa, in the street… her red hair flowing, baby on her hip… and it was like watching my life on replay.

“Remember when I used to pour your coffee? Remember when I thought that that was as good as life would get for me?”

Did we both ask that question? Did she ask it at all? Am I confusing who is who?

She said “I couldn’t place you for a moment, last year is so long ago”…
She’s starting anew. She looked radiant. My heart leaped.

I think our hearts each poured into the other’s then… and maybe that’s really what happens in time travel when your past and future selves meet. We didn’t create a paradox, but a new paradigm. A cappuccino can be poured as soon as the milk is ready; you can move the milk back and forth between vessels to speed the process but the milk and foam will find perfect balance on their own.

 

 

Time Travel

Once, mother and I calculated the sum of my sick days and determined I’d lost two full school years of classes to pneumonia. It dawned on me today that the spottiness of my early education was more than just incongruous learning, it was a strange way to time travel.

I would sleep, fever, and dream for days at a time, too weak to care about dates or whether the sun or moon was up. When I woke and was able, I’d build elaborate worlds out of modeling clay and construction paper. I spent from morning till night in my stories and fantasy.

After some weeks, I’d arrive back to my same desk at school, same teachers, same friends, same chicken-fried steak. But the classes had advanced, and my friends had memories of learnings and events that I didn’t. I just had these disjointed thoughts. That’s what I mean by time travel. I had a memory of school, long bits of absence from time, and then there I was in the future again.

So, when we wonder “where did the time go?” I’m more inclined to think it did slip away, somewhen. We fall down these rabbit holes and can’t remember when we’ve been. I wonder where all that extra time collects?

Aleph Taw Atbash

A woman wakes up and wonders what the day will bring.

Breakfast? Coffee? Donuts? Eggs?

Fantasy takes hold and brings her underwater snowstorms and brightly collapsing stars.

Go on then she encourages her subconscious, stretching the sleep from her soul and soles… so delicious.

(How she rose from her rest on the red couch and went through the motions of the morning’s ritual is anybody’s guess.)

Illuminated by travel wary photons her hands collect the kettle and press; “kettle and press, kettle and press,” their methodical movement sings.

Joyfully she holds her singing hands to her heart, remembering her dream from the night before.

“Kettle and press, kettle and press,” her heart answers electrically against her palm. Lightning singes her fingertips, the kettle whistles, and her body collapses into itself, 1000 layers deep. Masterfully, she pours the kettle’s contents into the press and breathes deeply through four minutes and eternity before pushing down the plunger.

Neat rows of thrift store coffee mugs line the shelf, she picks her favorite, “Trivial Pursuit”, and fills it with her morning’s work. Opulence ensues.

“Perhaps she will survive the brutalities of this day after all?” she narrates to nobody. Quietly contemplating the untangling of her universe, a noiseless cacophony, she pulls herself under.

Reality folds bends and stretches into newly recognized patterns; her coffee grows colder. Streams of sunshine delicately illuminate tangles of her uncombed hair.

Tomorrow will be better, her fingers tap somberly onto the tabletop. Under circumstances more direct and venerable she would have denied this sly foreboding, but is uneasy.

Velvety dreamscapes give way to more sinister expressions of emptiness and existence. Wary of wounding her imagination in this way she steps, shoulders hunched, into the shower, hoping its contents and comfort will shake free the premonition.

Xanthic tiles welcome her as she revels in the feeling of so many tiny drops of water touching her skin at once. Yesterday washes itself away against watertight walls barely big enough to contain her. Zeta-like, the tiny yellow room does its work to restore her faith in the beauty of the everyday.

Thank You For Being Alive, Mother Fucker

My husband went for a guy’s weekend with his friends, they take a trip together every year. It gets increasingly more complicated for them to get together as they build careers and make families. I mostly give him my blessing, it’s important for men to keep their male friends after they get married. I read a paper about this once, how men drop their friends after marriage but women don’t, anyway, I think it’s important to have a support group outside of your marriage, friendships that don’t depend on so many details…

A few of these trips have been bachelor parties, which of course, is unnerving, but manageable.  I have to trust that as long as my husband plays by the house rules and doesn’t do something he will regret for the rest of his life, these things aren’t anything to worry about.  I did NOT feel this way about bachelor parties when I was pregnant and nursing, back then, they were most definitely off limits. You can blame it on the hormones of pregnancy if you like, but it doesn’t invalidate the way I felt.  That’s the funny thing about marriage, as it matures, as the hormones and feelings work it out, the house rules change, if just a little.

Our calendar says that my husband’s flight home was last night, I remember him telling me he’d be home in time to help take the children to school in the morning, but… he wasn’t. I called his phone but there was no answer. I had to decide between denial, worry, or anger to get me through this morning. I chose the first as my exterior expression while the other two ran through my mind in the background, setting fire to every senario. I rented a car to try delivering both children on-time to their schools (which are across the city from each other, and start within 15 minutes of one another.) This is so much easier when my husband is home, weekday mornings don’t work well without him.

On the way to the car I found a four leaf clover, a common mutation I am told, not that lucky at all, but I held onto it for a while, just in case. I opened the door to the rental car and the alarm went off. The car wouldn’t start. While the rental company tries to fix it, it becomes apparent we’re going to be late for at least one child’s school. We leave the car broken and beeping, I left the four leaf clover in the front seat, it was an accident, I considered retrieving it, but left it, telling myself it meant something to find luck and leave it in a stalled car. One child made it to school on time, one child stayed home with me. The fires of worry and anger in my mind are too mentally exhausting to withstand the bus trip and necessary school office interactions to sign the kid in as tardy. I’ve already pictured every ditch my husband’s body might be found in, there is no way I could walk into that school office alone without the weight of thinking I might always be alone bearing down on me.

After 8 hours of wondering what happened and twice as many connections to his voice mail, Mr. Pierce picks up the phone, relief washes over me. “Where are you?” I ask. “Venice Beach.” he says. “I thought you had a flight home yesterday.” I say. “It’s tonight.” he mumbles. “That’s not what you told me and that’s not what’s on the calendar.” I say. “Well, it’s tonight.” he says. “Thanks for being alive, mother fucker.” I growl in anger before hanging up the phone.

Somewhere in Venice Beach is a man half awake, probably hung over after a long weekend with his best guy friends, the ones he hardly ever gets to see. In his fog he’s probably wondering what he did to deserve such a pleasant 6am wake up call, he’s probably wondering if the house rules changed while he was snoring. But if he’s smart he’ll realize love is an unfeeling bitch at the other end of the telephone line, a really… lucky… bitch.