Water Lilies - Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet (1923)
Many Italians and coffee aficionados will relate to the concept of waking up and putting the moka pot on the stove. The regular movement of twisting the moka so as to unscrew it, removing the filter which—if you’re like me, lazy—still contains coffee, filling the bottom part with water, inserting the filter, adding the coffee, screwing it back together and putting on the stove, is quite an accomplishment especially if you wake up sleepy and see within all of these steps the possibility of failure, of dropping coffee, of losing a part, of not screwing it back together properly. However, once the feat has been accomplished, I'll lay my face on the table, exhausted by my achievement, and wait for the coffee to brew. It takes about ten minutes, which—depending on the level of boredom, tiredness, ennui, sleepiness—can feel like ten years. After a while, one hears some roaring and rumbling, the most blissful sound, and after another four minutes the coffee is ready. The aroma in the air somehow manages to start the waking up process even for the sleepiest.
After pouring the coffee in the espresso cup (what an ugly term, bringing to mind George Clooney and his infamous 'Nespresso, what else?' ads for an overpriced coffee in silly plastic capsules which will never taste as good as freshly brewed Neapolitan coffee, let’s be honest! 'Tazzina'—tiny cup—is a much better word, in my opinion), I'll make my way back to bed. This is a habit I used to indulge in once in a while in my ‘normal independent student life’. It has become an everyday occurrence now that I am back home. The process of carrying the tiny cup with the tiny handle is almost always a challenge. It is a feat of great skill, taking the cup upstairs without spilling any of the brew. Most often than not, I end up spilling droplets onto the floor. Too sleepy to even will myself to stop, I end up carrying my less than full cuplet of coffee to bed; unwilling to clean the droplets up.
Recalling the story of Hansel and Gretel, these droplets become the breadcrumbs that lead me back to my bed. But, these drops don’t disappear, and the same process happens the next morning ad infinitum. Then, walking around the house allows me to see how different every day has been. Some days, I get away with dropping a tiny bit of coffee, others, I can barely keep anything in the cup. In a time where days all feel the same, the drops are a reminder of time passing. When everything feels the same, when the routine is identical and all my forms of interaction are now linked to a screen, I thank those little droplets of coffee for they are not only a disgusting reminder of how lazy I truly am, but that the days do go by, and that time is indeed passing.
Now that some time has gone by since I first thought about the coffee incident, and many lockdowns have since come and gone, I still marvel at how time gets distorted in these 'unsettling times'. Many great artists and writers have painted and written about the passage of time, how our perception of time determines how we live, how boredom is at the core of great art and literature (heavily hinting at Proust, whose endless sentences have left me befuddled and made for painful exam revising), so my two pennies aren’t worth very much. Except for the fact that every morning I have my coffee and feel time passing by, I remind myself that I may as well enjoy that sip.