Tea

There isn’t any coffee in the house. I have to go to the roaster’s and buy more beans, but before I can even think of going out, I need to get rid of the splitting migraine I have. The migraine is because I’m addicted to caffeine, and the only way to get rid of it is to drink coffee.

“Why didn’t you buy coffee earlier?” you say. “Coffee beans don’t spoil. You can keep spare bags around for months.” You’re not wrong, not technically. But if I were the kind of person with the foresight to buy coffee beans before they ran out and avoid this very situation, I wouldn’t be the kind of person who’d get hopelessly addicted to that morning hit of caffeine in the first place.

“Why not drink tea?” you ask. “Tea has even more caffeine than coffee.” That’s an easy one. It’s because tea tastes like boiled leaves, which is gross. Next question.

“Why not kick your caffeine habit once and for all, go cold turkey?” you ask. “It would suck at first but at least when it’s over, you won’t fall into this loop again.”

That’s a good point. But I’m not even really addicted to the caffeine. I’m addicted to the idea of needing caffeine.

I need coffee because my brain is sluggish and smeared around the edges and pickled in Vaseline. I have an innate ability to preserve energy; I don’t need to tap my fingers or jiggle my leg, I move slowly and ponderously and very much like those tortoises you see in zoos. From my mother I’ve inherited the ability to sit in once place for hours at a time, unmoving, just reading books or playing games or watching TV.

It can and does take me hours to work up the nerve to begin to do something, anything. If I have to go out shopping, first I need to get dressed, but before then I need to put away the laundry from yesterday, but before then I need to clear the bed so I’ll have space to fold the clothes, but before that I need to sweep the floor so I’ll have a clean spot to lay down the sheets and pillows, and by the time I’m done thinking about all of that, I’m completely wiped out and need to read a book or check Twitter. This is what most of my days off are like: making plans to do everything, and therefore, get nothing done.

But if I have some token action, some reason to move, I come alive. I teach English, as you know, and nobody wants to learn from a sluggish and quiet teacher who gets overwhelmed at the idea of leading a class. I am animated, I am lively, I make lesson plans and nail them out 1-2-3! When I have an event to go to, I try not to ドタキャン (suddenly cancel) and leave them in the cold. I make commitments, I stick to them, I get things done.

The only person to whom I break promises and commitments is myself.

I tell myself that if I drink this cup of coffee, I’m going to get started on my day. I don’t have any more excuses, and I’m not allowed to say that I’m still tired or sleepy or I’ll get to it in a minute. I have to act, even if this high lasts for only a few minutes, even if I only check off one item (and an easy one, at that) from my endless lists. It’s a lie I tell myself that I’m not, actually, a useless, bland, boring, lazy person.

But on days when there is no coffee, no caffeine, that’s when I’m just hit with the truth; I’m as useless and pathetic as they come. I’ll go to work tomorrow, sure, don’t worry about that, but in between I won’t buy breakfast or lunch, I won’t read a book or play a video game or enjoy the music I like. I’ll just quietly, and spending as little energy as possible, wait for the next commitment to pop up on my agenda.

Every day I am becoming just a little bit more like my mother and I cannot stand it.