Great Dane Coffee, UBC Campus.
I’m updating you from here.
Picture a desk and I’m sweeping everything off of it: Adams peanut butter jars full of pens, a mirror, several potted plants, loose papers, index cards, envelopes, erasers, stray bits of yarn, half-folded paper cranes, stacks of books. Rilke, Neruda, Ginsberg, A Primer of Ecological Statistics (Nick Gotelli, how many lives have you saved?), The Satanic Verses, Spud (and I miss South Africa! I lean back in the chair and look at myself in the mirror and put on a dreadful South African accent, and laugh at myself), a few copies of the New Yorker, each turned to a different page. All of it! SWOOSH and it’s all on the floor, along with a healthy coating of dust.
Who hasn’t updated for months?
What’s an update, anyhow?
I’m drinking coffee and I drink coffee perhaps once every two weeks, nowadays, so I’m anticipating hyperactivity in my near future, likely followed by a hollow sense of unwellbeing. It’s okay: I’ve long since surrendered to my weakness for momentary highs. Meditating (meditating!) in the mornings doesn’t seem to have made an impression on my susceptibility to these brief pleasures.
It is summer now, exams over, and most of the students have left. A few weeks ago it would have been wall-to-wall: frantic undergrads poring over textbooks, coffees flying off the counter and into distracted hands already jittery from caffeine. I wrote a poem once when I was an undergrad which contained the line “adenosine, with its four sharp syllables.” I think of coffee that way, but never tea, though it’s the same drug. Secondary compounds etc. Anyhow, here I am. At the counter sits a group of three men eating toasted sandwiches, perched on stools that seem slightly too small for them. Two are young, one is old, white-haired. Are any of them students? It seems possible that none of them are, which makes me happy.
In the low table next to the door, three young women, undergrads. They have lingered into the broad, indolent, luxurious summer days that I didn’t learn to appreciate until it was too late: the space between the end of school and the beginning of home, where you might loll about in cafes with your friends talking about nothing, or experience a strange possessiveness over the ghost campus. Their plates are empty but they push around the small chocolate crumbs with their forks, rearrange the crumpled napkins, idly discuss their plans to travel home and the adventures of the previous semester. They wear shorts and rest their Toms shoes on the leather armchairs.
I have brought my mouse with me. There seems to be some significance to that.
The girl behind the counter – also Asian – complimented me on my dreadlocks. I didn’t tell her I’m planning to cut them off. It will be good to be ugly for awhile. Confrontational. To be seen in a different way.
Summer! Time to kick out the crutches…