Tag: routine

On a Thursday

Getting lost in memories, on trash day.

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar. – Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ten o’clock in the morning, another alarm snoozed too long. The sun’s rays, sprinkled on the white sheets, have gone progressively from a gentle warm to an uncomfortable hot, and the early morning, indigo silence has given way to the bustle of a city well into its day.
Eyes still closed, she observes: today is Thursday. She parts from the pillows and puts on her robe, double knot around the waist.
The small steel mocha is in the kitchen, in the same spot on the counter as it was yesterday. And has been since the day they first set it there, years ago, till they could find a better place.
That spontaneous, three-euro buy long ago, on a road trip through Tuscany. The old stove that had to be coaxed and wooed to work, in a friend’s kitchen in Sant’Angelo. The first cup of coffee the mocha proudly brewed, which tasted like garden soil. That he drank with a smile nonetheless and declared the best he had had in his life.
Now it smells strongly of the many cups of coffee it has since, more expertly, poured. This morning, same as yesterday, it pours one cup more. She sips it on the couch she remembers them buying with their savings some time back, and contemplates this day she already knows, has already lived a few times.
Today there will be letters and emails to answer, phone calls and the bed to make.
The clumsy, wonderful first time he tried to make the bed himself.
Groceries to be acquired, dinner to be cooked.
Frozen pizza and chopped lettuce, on the floor that first night. The for-no-reason, romantic dinners, the dozens of dinner parties since. The lazy Monday night take outs, the Thursday night pairings with wine, dancing in the kitchen, stove forgotten, dinner left to burn.
Shirts to iron, a week’s worth of laundry to do, dry, and put away.
Bubble baths wrapped in those dryer-warm towels, Sunday mornings in those sheets. The day, three years ago, the exact shelf and aisle, where a younger version of him and her first picked them out.
A distinguishing note: the trash to take out. Today is, after all, Thursday.
When did coffee become just coffee? When did the white couch turn grey? She really must have overslept; today looks just like yesterday. She wonders what happened to the color, the laughs, the poems she used to have. What else she absent-mindedly, lately, threw away with the trash.
The bin by the couch is full to the brim, overflowing with the remnants of other days; bits of ribbon, an old newspaper, landscape cutouts from travel magazines. Plane tickets and movie stubs, out of focus photographs. She kneels by it and rummages through, looking for the life she misplaced.
Drafts of letters, half written, unsent; receipts for paintbrushes and bouquets. Last month’s utilities bill, the synopsis of a ballet. The program of an evening of chamber music, a recipe for chocolate soufflé. An empty bottle of Saint-Hilaire,
Love at the first glass she tried, it must still be here, the poetry, the love. She cannot have used it all up.
Suddenly, a silver chocolate wrapper studded with dark blue stars. Baci, her favorite, one, two, five of them. The bin was full of stars!
A summer in Florence, 2015. The first bite-size piece of chocolate and hazelnut, wrapped in a love note. ‘We choose our joys and our sorrows long before we experience them,’ it read. Gibran, like everything, sounded better in Italian.
Un bacio is one kiss, baci are many, and of chocolates and kisses she slowly remembers hundreds, since that first one they shared.
Love Note number 7 is Dickinson: ‘Till I loved, I did not live enough.’
‘Love is the poetry of the senses,’ Balzac. Note number 139.
‘Grow old with me,’ writes George Sand. ‘The best is yet to be.’
‘In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities.’ János Arany, number 42. The sun bounces off the shiny notes as she pulls them out one by one. The fog lifts as she reads the last word; she knows where she left her life.
She rushes back to bed and starts the day over; today is Thursday. Eyes still closed, from the walk-in closet, she picks out a white lace dress.
Today she will make coffee again, and the bed, wear opal earrings and ballet shoes. Answer correspondence in verse, iron shirts to jazz. She will cook with wine and use the bottle as a vase for wildflowers she will pick. She will empty the bin, and tonight there will be new Baci wrappers to fill it with.
‘Yes, there is a Nirvanah; it is in leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem.’ And taking out the trash on Thursday.
Seven o’clock in the evening, another day gone too fast. The sun’s rays are receding quietly, the neighbor is playing Chopin. ‘[…] Love coming out of the trees, love coming out of the sky, love coming out of the light.’ Same as every day, same as yesterday, except today is Thursday.

Inertia

In everyday life, the devil lurks in the details.

Two minutes to five. She sets the tray down on the white tablecloth, and herself, back straight, on the clean white chair in the winter garden for afternoon tea. As she had the day before, the day before that, and the day before that. The table is set, again, for three. For two minutes she waits, for the waltz she now knows well, to begin.
At five o’clock, her husband will enter through the door on the right. Her daughter, through the door on the left. He will sit here, she will sit there. Queue the tea. Cream in the first cup, two lumps of sugar in the second. Neither in hers. She will realize she forgot the lemon in the kitchen. She will contemplate going back for it, decide not to, sip her tea, and wish she had. Then it will be four past five.
‘How was your day?’
The weather, the traffic, a rundown of global affairs. The wars, the famines, the state of the economy, the stocks. A revolution in some country she has not heard of. A cure for some disease she does not understand. Names of far off places she knows she will never see.
What was had for lunch. What will be had for dinner. What will be on TV. Then it will be ten past five.
‘Do you need help with homework?’
‘Would you like some more tea?’
Two cups of tea served; queue the angel cake. As pristine and white as the tablecloth, as vanilla as the day before. And the day before that, and the day before that. Two slices on the first plate, a sliver on the second. Nothing on hers. She will claim, again, that she does not care for cake. And it will be a lie.
‘What time will you be home tomorrow?’
‘Would you like some more cake?’
Another slice, another sliver, will be consumed indifferently. The questions will be answered the same way. As they had the day before, the day before that, and the day before that. Then it will be twenty past five.
Her husband and daughter will walk out, he through the door on the right, she through the door on the left. She will sit a while longer, in the winter garden on the clean white chair, with the three empty teacups, two empty plates, and the half-eaten cake.
The angel cake her mother made, and her mother before that. The cake she grew up eating, every day at five, back straight for forty years. Till grandmother died and mother too, and it was too late to say she did not care for angel cake. Or vanilla, or white, or the well-mannered inertia of her life. Too late for a different recipe; this one was all she knew.
Now she makes angel cakes.
Almost half past five. In a few minutes, she will wipe the crumbs off the white tablecloth, and place the china on the tray. She will head into the kitchen, and throw away the leftover cake. Then she will bake a fresh one, the same one, for afternoon tea at five the following day. But not for a few minutes. Not just yet.
For a few minutes she will slouch into the clean white chair, and daydream of a party, one afternoon years ago, where she had crisp champagne in a crystal flute, and a slice of devil’s cake.
She will close her eyes and remember the deep, dark brown of that slice. Almost oaky, almost black against the fork’s silver shine. The fork’s own flawless slide down the soft, moist layers; one, two, three. The velvet feel of that first bite against her lips, the explosion of bitter cocoa and coffee in her mouth as they dissolve into cream on her tongue. The dense smell, taste of the chocolate, overpowering every sense. The second bite. The third, the fourth. Pleasure in a succession of waves crashing against her palate, flushing her cheeks, her nose, her chest. Destroying any awareness of a present or past beyond it. The vivid realization of fulfillment, the acute ecstasy of being. The heartbreaking discovery of a life beyond white.
Then it will be half past five, and she will open her eyes.