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Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Back for coffee

I got to the door, pressed Fabian’s flat button and announced myself:

— “Gena.”

— “It isn’t working, Gena. It’s five-”

— “Five seven, six eight. I know the code, I just didn’t…” I didn’t want to produce unwanted familiarity and just appear by his door, but the fact that I had rang the bell when I remembered the code was self-explanatory, so I pressed the numbers and left the door opening noise communicate I wasn’t going to finish my sentence.

I went up the stairs feeling nervous again and found Fabian holding the door open as I got to the second floor.

"Addict II", by Pierre Andrews

"Addict II", by Pierre Andrews

— “You look good as a redhead, menina.”

— “Thank you.” I said quickly, overlapping with him calling me girl in Portuguese.

— “Can I still call you menina?”

— “Sure, if you want to.” I aimed for unmoved, but wasn’t exactly sure of how it had come off, so I said “I brought us some biscuits” and extended my hand with a box of buttery goodies clumsily attempting to deflect the attention to them.

He picked them up and hugged me tightly, making me feel stupid for trying to be formal, so I surrendered to an honest and big hug.  It lingered on for a good while, maybe 10 seconds, and he said softly:

— “Bruno is here, he arrived yesterday night and I couldn’t kick him out. He left his house and I think him and Tata are separating.”

— “Jesus!”, I broke away from his embrace, “Do you want me to come back another time?”

— “No no. Stay.”

— “How is he doing?”

— “He hasn’t said much all morning, he just sat there and I don’t really know what to do.”

— “Okay. Should I talk to him?”

— “Don’t say I told you anything.”

— “Okay.”

I waved ‘hi’ to Bruno from the corridor, and went to give him a ‘hi’ kiss, but Bruno collapsed into my arms and I ended up giving him a bear hug:

— “Gena, sweetie, so good to see you.”

— “What’s up, Bruno? You don’t look so good.”

— “It’s Tata, Gena”, he left my arms and slumped into the sofa opposite me.

— “Do you wanna talk about it?”

— “We’re on a break, I guess.”

— “Oh, sweetie, that sucks.”

— “Yeah, and I left the house.”

— “God, Bruno, this sounds serious.  How are you feeling, I mean, of course I don’t expect you to be great, but is this something you’ve been discussing for a while?”, I asked as I wondered what Fabian was on about when he said Bruno wasn’t talking, but Bruno, the mathematician, surprised me:

— “Well, uh”, he gave a big sight, “Oh, I guess we’re-  our relationship could be illustrated by an orthogonal model uh…”

Fascinating as it could be to discuss values and relationships in a geometric way, I couldn’t believe his answer or keep up with the boys if they went further along that path, so I looked at Fabian who finally seemed to be ready to say something.

"Addict III", by Pierre Andrews

— “Maybe we should make some coffee?”, he alternated looking at the two of us with his hands moving in the air, “And we can have your biscuits.”, he said looking at me.

— “Yes, coffee and biscuits would be good”, said Bruno.

— “Sure, I’ll make some and you guys keep talking.” I took Bruno’s maths and Fabian’s intervention as a hint to leave them talking alone and stood up, but then noticed Fabian was standing up too.

— “We still have some of that fancy coffee you bought”, he stood closer to me, “there’s no one to drink it.”

— “Right, I’ll make it then.”

I moved towards the kitchen approaching my task with some trepidation — taking it over as the host in a flat where I knew everything’s position but not mine was surreal.  Everything reminded me I didn’t occupy that place any longer.

— “We don’t have your thingy anymore, though.” Fabian walked after me leaving Bruno alone in the living room, “we only have this other thing here, I don’t know if it is good.” He opened the cupboard to reveal an Italian coffee maker.

— “Oh, this is even better than the cafetière, I have one of these too. I can handle it.” I said, signing with the head he could go back to the living room to stay with Bruno.

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Olivier

Coffee with Olivier was the first thing scheduled for Saturday morning.

I met Olivier at tango.  He was doing a Ph.D. in Fabian’s department and was coaxed into taking tango classes when his girlfriend Claudia took an interest in joining along.  I had met Fabian at salsa.  Bruno, a Brazilian guy I had seen in a carnival party, was with him and we bonded as the Latin Americans.  One night, I made a negative remark about the class and, when Bruno started calling me “the critic” as we walked to our homes after the class, Fabian told me he hoped I wouldn’t join his group.  So I did.

When I joined in, Fabian’s tango group was already together for 4 months and Olivier and his girlfriend were among the loyal regulars who had been there from the start.  Most of the group took their seniority very seriously, as a right to attention, and treated us new dancers with suspicion and distance.  Girls were especially adverse to newcomers, which was understandable as we always exceeded guys in numbers and waiting for a turn to dance in class was a boring reality.  Guys were much warmer, but Olivier was by far the nicest man in the group.  He and I were compatible in height for dancing so we often paired up for the second warm up dance (after he had danced with Claudia) and managed to laugh at our mistakes or at childishly obstructing other dancers.  We did not disrupt the classes; we just liked to break the seriousness of the day when we started.  We danced for fun and that was all we had in common at first.

It was Fabian who brought us closer.  When Fabian and I started going out, we were a secret.  He was the instructor and he did not want to be seen in a relationship in the same measure he probably did not want to be in one.  But he wasn’t always consistent about hiding our proximity and he started praising my work to some of his friends and then asked me to help Olivier with my knowledge on language and social interaction.  Pretty soon, Olivier was my best friend in the hostile tango group.  We started with academic topics, but soon abandoned them in favour of more personal subjects.  It wasn’t planned, but I somehow asked the right questions and he ended up disclosing more than I expected.  I learned his love life was crumbling down and when he figured my own was on the ropes, he was the one checking if I was ok.  We were a big tango cliché, suffering because our pathetic love lives, but our own personal tango consolidated our friendship.

"Friends... in despair!" by Pierre Andrews

Coffee with Olivier was, hence, top priority.  I went to his flat and found him with an out of bed look.  Not the big sexy hair depicted on women’s magazines, it was puffy eyes and creased cheeks and T-shirt.

“Have I woken you up?”

“No, I was already up, grinding some coffee for us.”

“Smells good actually.”

“Vietnamese. My mum brought some last time she came visiting.  I really love your hair red, Gena. You should keep it like this.”

“ You know I find it too rock’n’roll, but thanks Olli”

“Yes, it’s wilder, but good. You should keep it red.”

As he went on with the coffee making, I told him about life in London, the milonga and Marcos.

“I did not really pay much attention to him when I we met.” I said well aware I was leaving a Mr. Gorgeous-shaped gap on my telling,  “But when I was about to leave the milonga, he came after me and he was so sweet, saying we should go to this class together.”

“Oh, cool!”

“And then on the next night, I met him on a bus in London!”

“No!”

“Yes, in a city as big as London I met Marcos by chance on a night bus.”

“So, what happened then?”

“Not much really. I went to the class but he didn’t. I don’t know if I mistook the day or if something happened and then I came here, so he might have been to the milonga yesterday, but I wasn’t there so…”

“No, but you can see him another time, right?”

“Yes, sure. But I am blabbing. Tell me about you.”

“Well you know.”

“What? You won’t make me ask all sorts of questions to get you talking will you?”

“But this is what we do!”

“Olivier, this is nonsense. We’re past that. Six months past that! You cannot tell me, oh yes I would really love to talk to you and then force me to interrogate you when we finally see one another.”

“It’s just awkward like this Gena. I need you to take it out of me.”

“No, it is awkward that we have to get back to zero when we start a new conversation! Go on.”

“I don’t know.”

“What did she do to you?”

“She didn’t do anything. I don’t like when you make her sound mean, ok?  But, yeah, he paused for a deep sigh,  “she took a job in France and she moved out last week. So, it’s all over and finalised for us.”

“I am so sorry, sweetie.”

“It’s ok, I knew this was supposed to happen. We were just waiting for it.”

“I know, but you’re staying here and it must be hard to still feel her all around.”

“Well, it was harder when I thought she loved me and she told me she could not see us building a future together. But since that, we’ve sort of been waiting for us to find our ways apart.”

“But it’s never easy, though is it?” I put my hands on his arm. “To see the future we don’t want materialised in front of us.”

“No, but what can I do?”

“If I knew the answer I’d write a book and become a millionaire.”  I answered even though I knew it was rhetoric.

He wasn’t perking up; so distracting him from the girl seemed like a better idea.

“I’m supposed to have coffee with Fabian soon.”

“Oh ho!  Are you ok with that?”

“Well, yes, I mean, we got closer after the binding hoo-hah, so I sort of owe him a proper thank you.”

“Oh shit, Gena, so sorry I couldn’t help with it. If I knew that was why you were calling, I would have done it for you”

“It’s ok. I know that. And that’s why you were the first person I called, but you were taking Claudia to the train station, I mean, you had enough on your plate”, and there we were back to the last goodbye scene, his eyes getting teary.

“Yes, but I didn’t know you’d have to call him to sort it for you just because I couldn’t talk then. I thought you were calling for a chat.  I wish I had been there for you.”

“It’s ok really. It brought us closer again and it’s been good. We hadn’t managed to patch it up after the break up, and it’s better now.”

“But you cried so hard when I called you later.”

“Well, it was hard to call him, but you were not in much better shape.”

“I know, but my goodbye was predictable and scheduled, whereas you having to call Fabian was unexpected.”

“Yes, but you know what’, my eyes were brimming over by then, “It was kind of dignifying to know I could trust him to be there for me, you know?  That I wasn’t just stupid to like him or suffer so much, there was something there and it made it better to know he dropped what he was doing, printed my stuff, left the office and went straight to the binders for me.” I took a pack of tissues from my handbag and put it on the table so we could help ourselves to it. I needed plenty of them.

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Coffee overload

Early morning on Friday and I was back on the train heading north in the company of a big cup of coffee. I turned my computer on to practice my talk for the day conference that was taking me back to the city and department I had left three weeks earlier with a Ph.D. title and freshly done mahogany hair. My first talk as a doctor. The same place, the same crowd, but this time I was an invited external presenter.

— “All tickets please.”

This isn't a teacup

"This isn't a teacup", by Pierre Andrews

I got my ticket ready for inspection and looked at the “open return” saying on it. The openness that allowed me to stay for the weekend in the city where most my friends lived also let me return to London after the conference to enjoy Friday night. Milonga night and my last one in the UK before flying to Brazil for Christmas.

— “Thank you love”, said the ticket man, and I put the ticket away on my bag.

Would Marcos try to find me at the milonga? Had he even tried one of Javier and Alexa’s classes? My talk practice wasn’t taking me anywhere and it wasn’t even needed. I knew what to say – I had spend the last two nights practicing the talk and asking myself the same questions. Should I have tried Wednesday class anyway? Not if I wanted to have a talk to present, I knew that answer. It was silly to even contemplate returning to London just for the milonga and the hope of seeing Marcos, I’d have plenty of time for London and milongas in the future and I had the perfect chance to enjoy my friends for the weekend.

My friends and Fabian. My stomach just didn’t accept any more coffee – I should learn to buy small cups when traveling. I picked the phone and checked the time display – 8:52 – so I decided against calling Kate. I had the same coffee overload and nausea when I last saw him, as he joined the doctorate celebrations expecting VIP treatment as if he had earned that title as well. I had also ran for Kate afterwards, the mahogany dye with me, and we had a go at transforming me into a new woman, doctor rock´n´roll, Kate said. Luck had it that doctor clown also wanted the post and got it. Less than a week later I messed up with the final submission I had to send to the binder for the hardcover copies the University requested. Doctor clown it was and it was Fabian who came to the rescue. It was my turn to replace aggressively defensive with grateful and that’s why we were supposed to have another go at meeting for coffee this time. I binned my coffee and tried to rest for the rest of the journey.

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