Monthly Archives: February 2008

Long Morning

It’s almost 11 o’clock as I take my first sip of coffee. I’ve been up since eight, but I feel like there’s a lot more to accomplish before I can even think about getting to work. There is the business of finishing the coffee and the English muffins with strawberry jam; there are groceries to be bought, especially deli meats for lunch and fruits to keep things healthy; I need to swing by Union Market to pick up a pound of their ground coffee beans for the office; and I still have to make and pack my lunch before heading for Midtown.

These are all things that can easily be avoided. I can choose to go directly to the office, perhaps pick up some rotisserie chicken-with-two-sides combo from across the street for lunch, and there’s nothing wrong with coffee beans from Starbucks. I can be at my desk a good two full hours ahead of time, get started on my work right away, and have enough done by lunchtime to feel productive.

But I’d rather take things slowly when I can. These mornings have become a sort of sacred ritual for me, starting with a good forty minute routine at the gym to work up an appetite followed by a few minutes at the laptop reading the Times and ESPN. I’ll be mindful of work-related email as they come in, and sometimes I’ll take my phone along to the gym so I can plan out my day while on the bike, but the focus usually shifts back to the exercise at hand or the food being put into my mouth. It’s a quiet and peaceful process. And it’s time that’s hardly wasted.

The important thing is to remember to put the strawberry jam back into the fridge before I leave.

Of All the Places

Note: First short story in almost a year – it’s been a while.

I recently moved to a new neighborhood. It’s a nice area with trees, small stores, and a park with a large pond. My place is a cozy one-bedroom apartment on top of a travel agency. I see a poster advertising cheap flights to the Philippines on its window. The poster reminds me of the time I sat next to a Filipino nurse who was flying on Korean Air and making the connection at Seoul to Manila. I had my headphones on, and she still started talking to me. She had a shadow over her upper lip that looked like a mustache.

I moved out the day my girlfriend told me that she’d been seeing someone else. We hadn’t been getting along, especially since I had quit my job and spent most of my time watching television. She went out a lot and never asked me to join her. She sometimes came home smelling of alcohol and red in the face. She told me I was a loser. I called her a bitch.

There is a small grocery store a couple of blocks from my apartment. It’s owned by an old Indian couple. They sell produce that doesn’t always seem fresh, and you can sometimes find cat hairs on the lettuce and spinach if you look close enough. They have a pretty-looking gray cat with bright yellow eyes. I never caught its name. I only stick to buying boxed goods there. The owners are super nice.

Earlier this week, walking into the grocery store, I spotted a familiar face. It was an old girlfriend. Hi Linda, I said. She was surprised to see me and said hello. I told her I had recently moved to the neighborhood. She had been living here for the past couple of years. She’s some sort of marketing consultant and works mostly from home. I told her I was in between jobs. We exchanged contact information and promised each other to have lunch or grab coffee.

Soon after, I thought about Linda from our days together. She’s an attractive girl with a sharp nose and narrow face. I noticed that she had lost some weight, although she was already skinny to begin with. She wears her hair differently now – much shorter and very straight. I wondered if it was one of those Japanese straight perms she had gotten. We dated briefly back when we both lived in the city. I met her through a friend at work, and we hit it off quickly. By the fourth date, we were talking about moving in with each other. We almost did, but things didn’t work out. She then had to travel for work every other week. We saw each other less and less, and I started talking to friends of other friends. We ended things on friendly terms but seldom spoke to each other afterwards.

This afternoon, we met up for coffee. Linda told me more about her work and asked me what I did on my free time. I told her I watched a lot of TV and applied for a few jobs here and there. She asked if she could come check out my place, since she had never seen anyone else’s place in the entire neighborhood. I took her back to my apartment. Although it was only 2 o’clock, I took out two cold beers, and we drank as we watched daytime talk shows. After a couple of bottles, I put my hand on her thigh. She took my hand with both of hers and pulled it towards her chest. We soon got naked in broad daylight.

I’m standing by the kitchen sink pouring myself a glass of water. Linda’s asleep in my bed or maybe she’s not. I wonder if we’ll be getting dinner together, or if she’ll put her clothes on and leave. I recently learned of a decent Chinese takeout in the neighborhood. We could order delivery and watch the evening news. It’s getting darker outside, and through my window, I can see the lights turning on around the neighborhood. I can still make out the big pond far away but the sun’s setting fast and soon, I’ll have to turn my lights on or jump back into bed.