Water Lilies - Japanese Bridge by Claude Monet (1923)
Many Italians and coffee aficionados will empathise with the concept of waking up and putting the mocha pot on the stove. The regular movement of twisting the mocha so as to unscrew it, remove the filter which — if you’re like me, lazy — still contains coffee, adding water to the bottom part, 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 one of the parts, of not screwing it back together properly. However, once the feat has been accomplished, I tend to lay my face on the table, exhausted by my achievement and waiting 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 stumbling, 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 (though what an ugly term, it only brings to mind George Clooney and his infamous “Nespresso, what else?” ads; an overpriced coffee in silly plastic capsules which ultimately will never taste as good as freshly brewed Neapolitan coffee, let’s be honest! Tazzina renders it perfectly, in my opinion), I tend to make my way back to bed. This is a habit that I used to indulge in once in a while in my ‘normal independent student life’. It has now become an every day occurrence now that I am back home. The process of carrying the tiny little cup, with the little handle to hold onto 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 be willing to stop, I end up carrying my less than full cup of coffee up to bed; unwilling to clean the droplets up.
Like Hansel and Gretel, these droplets are the bread that lead me back to my bed. Unlike them, however, these drops don’t disappear and the same process happens the next morning ad infinitum. 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 on Proust, whose endless sentences have left me befuddled and made for painful exam revision), so my two pennies isn’t worth very much. Except for the fact that every morning I have my coffee and I feel time passing by, and I may as well enjoy that sip.