One coffee cup sits perched on a coaster on the desk in the living room; but I don’t often sit there and the bitter sting of a hot coffee has always been too strong for me. Yet, there it is, containing the dregs of brown liquid poured fresh a few hours ago, in a red mug with the spoon leaning out and catching the reflection of the window.
The smell of the contents lingers nearby, the same warm tang that is the taste of you, the particular fragrance of morning and adventure and energy.
I’m leaving the mug to sit; strange and unclean as it might seem, I’m in no rush to collect and wash the porcelain treasure quietly resting on my desk. There’s no hurry for the mug, there are others, and I long since gave up the use of my single coaster for anything other than a used coffee mug. If I pour myself a hot drink, I will place it upon a spare shed of paper, an old receipt or a tissue. Sometimes the idea of disturbing the coffee cup is too hard to do, especially during the long separations; so hard in fact, the old contents will be long hardened and drained of scent before I resolve myself to finally clear it away and leave an empty place remaining.
The cup has no monetary value being neither old nor unique, and purchased as part of a small set from an everyday supermarket to meet the needs of a move. It’s barely a year old, and was a member of mass production, probably owned by thousands of households throughout the country.
The value is born from the lips which have lined the rim. The prints left by fingers on the handle, and oddly, around the rim, where a hand is gently rested so the steam warms the palm. I like the idea that a simple object and I have been kissed by the same lips, and warmed the same hands. I’ve built a bridge of understanding between an item which cannot think or do, because we are united in our need to stay as we are for as long as we can, to not lose the sense of someone who is miles away, and often has no set date to return. We both stand near windows gazing through the space.
There are dark nights sometimes, in the deepest depths of longing and loneliness where I think I might have made you up. My mind in all its desire for a closeness like this one, crafted an elaborate delusion of a person, playing out before me as a perfect hologram of an ideal, real enough to falter as is the truth of partnership, but strong enough to bend with the winds and never simply snap. So weary was my heart of loss, it constructed a dream which could not escape through an unseen door, but so taxing is the realism on my creative abilities, they can only sustain you for bursts. And to keep from shattering the illusion it even wove together a reason for your absences, so beautifully poetic it’s no wonder the truth won’t find me – you drift away with the waves.
When these strange ideas reach me, it is comforting to return to that solid cup upon the desk and know the realness of you; to know that you have actually been here and something tangible remains. There are other things too; clothes left hung in the wardrobe, and shoes in the hall, a few stray toiletries kept in the bathroom, yet still none so intimate to me as that single cup, alone on the desk. In many ways, I am that cup, waiting to be full again when you return, waiting for the firmness of you.
It’s just a cup, and few dregs of coffee, yet at the same time, it is you and it is me.