Thursday, October 03, 2013

A CUP OF COFFEE

"When you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."
— Friedrich Nietzsche

After more than a year without, I have gradually fallen back into the land of java. I still hold fast to the fast on red meat and sweet bacon, but every now and then I will pour a cup and stare into it.

Nietzsche probably never thought of coffee as a portal to the abyss. Then again, he never found himself ordering breakfast for one at Perkins, where the eggs aren't bad and the potatoes have a nice crisp.

Waiting for the waitress to bring my food, I tried to read some Bukowski, hoping to immerse myself in words so I wouldn't look like what I was: a single guy occupying a booth but not waiting for someone to join him. As long as I could read I would be able to shut out the other diners, the twos and threes and fours enjoying conversation with their meals.

But Bukowski's description of the dark girl with kind eyes made my own eyes swim. I closed them and the book and allowed myself a moment for the memory of being raw with love. And then I started into the cup of coffee.

One week from tonight you will begin your vacation, I said to myself. In exactly one week it will all be made clear. The coffee stared back, its black surface twinkling from the overhead light.

Can I put enough distance between me and who I was? Unnerved by the dark silence of the coffee, I poured in some cream to lighten it, which only made the cup seem implacable, inscrutable.

I have tried to be invisible, tried to erase me from what was. But it still lives inside me. It is voracious. It grows. It sucks the life from my marrow and threatens to consume me, leaves me hollow-eyed and husked out. Whatever is left inside is an echo.

One week from tonight I will begin an adventure. A few days in I will watch the sun rise over a New Mexico landscape. That will be Oct. 15, a meaningful day for me. Fitting that I will be 826 miles from home. I hope that is enough distance to erase me from what once was. I hope the sun will shine on my face and bring warmth to an invisible man.

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