We were walking from First to Second Ave, my friend’s best friend and I. He was so tired, he said, that his feet felt like stumps. “You need to go bed with like some warm milk,” I said. I remembered that he doesn’t drink milk, being a delicate vegan. “Some almond milk.”
He said he was so tired he didn’t need warm milk, but me saying it made him think of coffee in the morning. How good that would be. I said you always need one thing, only one thing, to look forward to in life and that’s how you keep living. Or something. And he said it’s true and that thing is coffee.
Also, cigarettes. We talked then about which thing we have first: the coffee, or the cigarette.
Me, I can’t smoke a cigarette in the morning before coffee. It’s the taste equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. And it’s the only time in which smoking feels exactly as disgusting and reprehensible and all that shit as you’re going to tell me it is. Every other time, every time that comes after even one hot jolting sip of coffee, I don’t care. If you don’t like my cigarettes you can write to your local government representative.
Tell him/her, too, that in fact I’m more addicted to coffee than a) cigarettes and b) every drug I’ve ever done put together and multiplied by speed. You know this to be true for yourself if you’ve ever attempted a cleanse (ewwwww) and woken up on Day Three, head pulsing with the dull pain of existence.
And then said fuck it and went to get coffee from anywhere and inhaled its steam and felt its raspy heat and watched the world get brighter, the contrast higher, and remembered the whhhhy of waking up, why you
ever wake up.
One of the few not-scientifically-proven things I believe is that each human has the same finite number of heartbeats. He who has the lowest resting heartrate, and doesn’t die in one of a million unnatural ways, or get a major disease, lives the longest. But I mean, when he dies, he dies of boredom. Yeah, coffee quickens your heart. Cigarettes make it beat faster, harder. So does cocaine and other drugs. So do hot baths and near-death moments, and so does sex and spicy food and seeing your crush suddenly from a short distance and s/he not seeing you.
All of these things might be bad for us, and some of them definitely are, and don’t do drugs, kids, ok? But also: while they might be killing you, they’re making you not wanna kill yourself. Life, death: more of an and/or proposition.
This morning, still in New York, I went to meet a friend for breakfast in Soho. The place had window seats outside, big enough to curl up in with my coffee, which I took in a to-go cup, and my cigarette. I sat
there dying a little more quickly and wanting to less.