One of the many things my best friend and I have in common – there are more things that we don’t have in common but honestly, just because we’re best friends doesn’t mean we have to be each others clone – is our love for good coffee. We actually met through the magical force that is coffee. One fairly regular and uneventful week in October, the sun was out, some clouds dozed across the sky, it was a mild day, in every sense of the word really, mild air, mild breeze, mild people on the sidewalk mildly smiling at or in disregard of each other. Around noon I decided to match my mild mood with a decent cuppa so i made my way to a new favourite amongst the coffee shops. It was quite a walk but I didn’t mind it – keep in mind the mildness of said uneventful day in October.
As I was walking my mind dreamily wandered off in another direction. I knew I wasn’t paying too much attention to my passage but people were being uneventful to such a degree that I did not fear the unexpected. But, as so often in life, when you least expect the unexpected, said unexpected hits you like a hammer across the head, or like an elbow connecting with your temple.
I was knocked off my feet and the next thing i knew was this big guy looming over me, worried expression, blabbering some excuse in absolute terror. …just readjusting my bag strap… didn’t see you there… fuck…. are you alive… just some of the confused babbles I could catch and hold on to long enough to comprehend the meaning. I apologised gingerly. He laughed in slight hilarity and confusion. God no! he basically shouted at me, that was so my bad! and another stream followed. It made me rather dizzy, to be honest. Can I get you something, come let me help you up! was the next thing I disentangled from the rush. Back in a more vertical position my mind slowly refocused and calmed itself. No, no, don’t worry, I’m good! I heard myself say. After three more times of him asking whether he could get me something – from a glass of water, to an ambulance, and (well, I’m still not 100% sure whether I imagined that or if not if that was a joke) a watermelon – we finally got to the point of saying goodbye and have a good day and don’t decapitate anyone else with that elbow of yours.
I walked onwards and after a little while realised that he was still in my vicinity, he seemed to realise the very same thing at the very same moment. Apologetically he said yeah, sorry, I’m not stalking, I was just on the way to get a cuppa. Don’t worry about it at all! We can just walk along for a while like any other civilised pedestrians right? Right. and back to silence we went. We passed about three cafes until I had to ask, hey, uhm, what cafe are you actually going to? Yeah, right, laughter, that new one on the corner up ahead. That’s where I’m going to! and a lengthy conversation about great coffee followed that turned into that what are you and who are you kinda talk that turned into drinks the next day and into a short, really very brief period of us thinking we might end up dating and soon turned into a great very platonic friendship between this bear of a dude and me.
A friendship based on a shared appreciation for random indie band name combinations, Wes Anderson Movies, traveling, and, obviously, the brewed gold – always on the hunt for the better and ever more golden coffee and cafe we’d send each other postcards from new coffee shops whether from around the corner or from Belgium, Paris, or that time in Argentina that he asked the room service to deliver a postcard up to my hotel room from the hotel cafe. We’d also call each other from home and trips and coffee would be the conversation starter – in the fashion of the brits discussing the weather in order to establish common ground or to update each other on each others lives or for whatever reason that custom exists.
Which is why it didn’t strike me as strange at all that when he called me very early this morning that the only thing my sleep numbed mind remembered from the conversation was a coffee-centric remark. ‘And you know what, kiddo? They really have the very best coffee here’. I happily remembered how good he sounded and the incredibly positive vibe of that conversation when I woke up.
You know how mornings are all to peaceful, all too forcefully forgetful sometimes?
I don’t think I understood where that tear came from at first.
But, our minds are a bit more cruel than that space between sleep and wake.
Slowly, I put the question of why I didn’t remember where he was and why sadness tinted the memory of him like drops of black ink a glass of clear water together.
He might not have believed in any old place promised by any old man in any old house of gods but wherever that final trip brought him to, I now feel that he’s at peace. Now, three months since his too young ashes were returned to the water we all come from, I can let my best friend go and forgive him for abandoning me, that clumsy, wonderful, sweet bear of a dude.