Yesterday in Malaprop’s I ordered a espresso doppio at three in the afternoon; clearly, this was for the experience of the drink, not the ungodly amount of caffeine that infiltrated it. The espresso machine at Malaprop’s is industrial yet not completely automated, so I make a point of dropping in whenever I drive the 110 miles round trip to the city. A well-drawn shot by just the right barista under this machine is not to be missed. And yes, the café does employ a barista originally trained in Seattle and furthermore, I know which one she is so I can time my orders appropriately.
And so it was on page 128 of Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking that either I could not endure her (Didion’s) pain anymore, or I could not endure my own, or the caffeine in said espresso massaged my brain waves perhaps a little too kindly, and I agreed to leave the café for a known destination which would further encompass known consequences. I did not leave the café alone, which is precisely the point.
And it is further the point that one day later, continuing on page 128, albeit back in the solitude of the mountains supine in my own bed of red jersey-cotton sheets, that it takes only a small hazelnut-brown stain on said page – the stain coming from the crème, not the noir de noir of the espresso itself – to invite my senses back to the doppio, the conversation with a near-stranger, the walk through misting rain down Haywood Street, and the inevitable act of spontaneity which for perhaps weeks later will lead to fits of laugher and of tears, occasionally occurring at the same instant.