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7.19.2011

writing about the intangible.

mug and journal

sometimes the only thing that'll get me to crawl into bed at night is the thought of the morning latte that awaits the other side of sleep--the one from the coffee shop halfway up the hill.

the coffee i drink each morning--whether it's cafe bustelo in the green mug of my kitchen cabinet, or the latte from the corner cafe--it is tangible. i can hold it between my hands and feel it. it is real and right and mine.

but more than that it is a marker. some sort of touchstone--benchmark. a portal, really.

i pick up a cup of coffee and i remember when i first began to drink the stuff--sitting at the dark, circular kitchen table in an apartment on 104th. quietly sipping as i mustered both the courage and energy to face another day. to walk out the heavy door of 2B and get myself to school. morning after morning.

and with a warm cup of coffee between my hands i remember the time i went to australia--the first time i ever traveled out of the country by myself--halfway across the world. i remember having my first latte there and the revolution it was. heaven was that latte. sweet and earthy, unlike anything before. i remember those two weeks traveling alone. how i'd sit in cafes or outdoors and attempt to write. i remember the pendulum swing between good days and bearable days.

and i remember last summer in utah when sadness stole upon me once more. and how i couldn't breathe. i remember the two days i spent in park city with my parents. how each of those two mornings we began at a breakfast shop: bagel with egg and cheese, the new york times, and a medium-sized latte. and how those two days were a respite in which i felt safe and loved. and remembered, if only for a moment, that this passing, eclipsing cloud of a sadness would in fact do just that, pass. even if it took some time.

the coffee is tangible. but it's not the point. i know that. but it points to the point--helps me see just how far i've come. between the cups of coffee and the memories has been a life. each morning coffee contains each and every cup (day) that has come before it--allows me to pay homage to who i was, who i am, and the space between.

helps me make tangible what words will never fully do justice.

i was in love once. with a man. really and truly desperately in love. i would have followed him to the ends of the earth had he asked. my first love. and in all the time since i have carried the seeds of that love in me. the memory has filled me. and the knowledge that i am capable of a great and profound affection--the very kind that shifts our makeup and demands that we be more--well it has served as a bedrock of sorts.

i write about vespas and i write about lattes. i write about long-lashes and curly hair and broad shoulders because they are the tangible--they are the portal. but they are not the point. adventure and whimsy and absolute trust. willingness to fight, to disagree, to stand by the person even when you most disagree--those things are the point, i understand that. my parents will have been married for thirty-three years come this august. and trust me when i say they have modeled "the point" for me each and every day. i could not be prouder of them and their many accomplishments.

i am not so busy planning a life based on whimsical notions that i'm not grounded in the reality of what's unfolding before me. but i get to dream. and i get to play. and love is impossible to write about. it is abstract and profound and so beyond the understanding of this human language that i choose to write about the small, tangible things and then hope that in some way the metaphor translates--transcends.

i write about what many might consider insignificant because i know that in my own life--in my single life--in coming back from the edge of absolute sadness--those seemingly insignificant, ridiculous things like coffee and a new blouse and a window over-looking the hudson--well, my God, it has been those things that have made all the difference.

55 comments:

Jessica said...

Meg,
you always leave my speechless with your beautiful writing.
Things that you think may be insignificant, well, there's always a meaning! Even behind a medium sized latte.

www.mypersonaldaydream.blogspot.com

Mary Grace said...

Wow. I'm so glad I started my morning with this beautiful post. I'm never going to see and treat my daily cup of joe the same way.

wildchild said...

girlfriend, you've done it again. even you, scared of not doing justice to these things with words, do more justice with words than i ever could.

your point about "the point" is brilliant. all of these things are the point, but the portals are almost as important too. that's what helps us get to the point [obviously, as that's what a portal is]. but blah blah blah, i can't say it right. you do. and i thank you for that.

Kristyn Ellen said...

It's like I've just read a page from a book where I immediately identify with the main character. And want to read more, hoping she will shed light on my own life for me. Beautiful writing. I can't even touch it with comparisons, too good for that.

Keiko said...

...and they really do make all the difference.
*sigh

Happy thoughts to you, Meg Fee.

mina said...

I really love this.
I love reading your writing! because you usually write my thoughts, and I appreciate it, because I am not so good with words.

so thanks!

Grace said...

Love this! I'm quite certain that one day when I buy a copy of your future book (the one that I'm praying you hurry up and write), I will have to stop every few pages, simply to savor the words and the realization that someone else out there gets it! And I will assuredly have a wonderful latte right next to me as I soak it in!

s a m said...

Meg,
I so understand this connection to coffee and to the small things. They're physical, but it's really the inmaterial parts that make them important.

In the times in my life when the rain comes in, I feel isolated and disillusioned.

A cup of coffee is me striking out against that, it's me showing up. For the day and for myself.

Joy said...

I feel like anything I write won't be nearly as eloquent as what I just read. So maybe I'll leave it at 'Thank You' for putting into words what I felt but couldn't quite pin.

Arianna said...

meg, this is breathtaking. thank you so much for sharing!

The Almost Girlfriend said...

Thank you for this.

kimberly said...

this line - "it is real and right and mine" - is so very hemingway. just as he did, you have a way with words that translates (transcends, as you say) into something both poignant and beautiful.

Devika said...

Your story is my story, and the story of many others. And after indescribable love and unspeakable heartbreak, those seemingly insignificant, ridiculous things do indeed make all the difference.

Jeneric Generation said...

You touch on something I try to formulate in my mind often, and you word it so beautifully. I think so often material things get blamed for faults that do not belong to them. The tangible must help us come to conclusions, because by what other mode will we understand our world?

renata said...

love is the gift we've been given to be aware of God :) That's why it's so divine and impossible to be defined, you just feel it and you understand that everything has a meaning. Love is there, in God, and when you feel it for a man you know that's the way God sees him. That is how i feel about Love.

*S said...

you are a lovely soul & you always word everything so beautifully.

by r. said...

beautiful. i know the feeling of talking about those tangibles that point toward the intangible. you do it so well.


www.by-rebecca.blogspot.com

Abi said...

i know the feeling of giving your whole self to somebody. it's interesting. I felt so sad for the longest time, but like you, I realized what I was capable of. And someday we are going to find people that are worth our love. I feel silly writing that at such a young age (17), but reading this gives hope to all ages, ya know? You are awesome. You deserve someone awesome. and they will come :)

Anait said...

I don't believe there is anything insignificant at all about what you write....and who is to judge what is insignificant, anyways? Each thing in our life holds some deeper value, like coffee, or tea, or perfume...whatever it may be. Life is made up of the tangible and the intangible..and it would be quite meaningless without them both.

Alissa said...

This is so beautiful and eloquent. It explains so well about why (I think) most of us bloggers at here--trying to write about the big stuff in life in ways that are understandable, digestible. I hope one day I am able to reach my readers in the same way you are. Thank you.

Little Tree Vintage said...

i think all of these things you write about are extremely tangible and with your words you paint a picture as though we are able to put ourselves in your shoes. and i don't know what is more tangible then that my friend

Ashley said...

this is beautiful!

Emily said...

I really really liked this. Thanks for putting into words what so many of us struggle to express.

Hope you are doing well.

And a song for those cups to come.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JscAwVu2QI

A Sunday Kind Of Love said...

THIS a thousand times over. I think one of the reasons I stopped blogging is because I felt like this but had no idea how to express it. You are brilliant, Meg Fee, simply brilliant.

Taylor Yves said...

no one could have written a better ode to cafe!

Mel said...

I will always love coffee and I will always love this. Thank you for sharing.

- Mel

Kate said...

It's weird how much you can connect with something as simple as coffee, all the memories you get from it.

By far, this is one of my favorite posts ever.

Katie said...

It translates, for sure it does.

Your words give me faith that I am never alone, that all over the world hearts are beating along with mine, and together we can make something.

dull boy said...

i would have to say that in my own life experiences, everything, and i mean everything, gets back to tiny little 'things' that are of insignifcance when in isolation, but in the bigger picture, they are the pieces of the mosaic.

(extremely sorry for the cliche nature of this, but its true!)

Miss Wendy said...

Meg, I can't get over how amazing you are. Your blog is one of my most favorite things on this planet.

Miss Bibliophile said...

Lovely post! I think too many people fail to appreciate all of the little tangibles that surround them everyday. Small, seemingly ordinary rituals can add up to be the most important things.

mary elizabeth said...

this is so beautiful, thanks for sharing!

nancy said...

goosebumps, lady. this is incredible. never stop noticing those so-called "little" tangibles.

also, you came to Australia?! where did you visit?

homeseed said...

beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Sarah said...

You have a beautiful way with words. Love.

Anonymous said...

Love is not impossible to write about.

It's First Love that is impossible to write about.

(...Until you fall in love a few more times. Then it's entirely possible to write about it all...)

Autumn said...

I love small and daily reminders that make life fresher and more vibrant- things that remind of us things to come and people we want to be.

Laura Marie said...

Your writing, and especially this post, hits me right in my gut--not heavily, though, but in a kind of way that makes my chest sort of fill with lightness.

In other words, you write the truest, most striking of truths.

Just Another Girl said...

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons" - T.S. Eliot

Having mostly given up coffee since I became a mother and learned that trips to cafes are infinitely harder with a toddler in tow, coffee has mostly come to symbolize my single years. When I do get the chance to sip on an Americano or a Vanilla Breve Latte, I am instantly nostalgic for 17 again.

Anonymous said...

This was awesome. I'm 37 now, but had horrendous depression in college and again in my mid to late 20s. I still battle with it now and again but turned some big corners somewhere along the way with the help of a therapist. Know that I am shaking my head yes right along with what you have written.

Also, keep going. It's not an easy road but it is often beautiful and takes your breath away.

Jay said...

it always will be the little things that matter the most. i loved this post of yours, and maybe even more so the photo at the top :) best of wishes from norway

jenny said...

oh friend. EVERY time I come here... I think... that girl has a gift. And I think very beauty of writing is to help us all see through the portals of words to the intangible! And you do... every TIME I'm here... you do. It is a gift. Thank you.

a joaninha voa voa said...

our life is made of small things, and yes, they are THAT important!!
love your writing!!

annie said...

that last paragraph: yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

thank you.

DJ said...

You make me wish I enjoyed coffee! Coffee drinkers are so much more insightful. Us tea drinkers have a lot to learn from you.

Betsy said...

Gorgeous.

I know coffee itself wasn't the point, but oh how I understand why it is the portal to so much else. There are days when I hear that alarm in the wee hours of the morning and the thought of a cappachino is what gets me out of bed. Not for the taste completely or the caffeine, but for the comfort and enjoyment of it.

I have had moments on Saturday mornings curled up on my couch with my favorite mug sipping on some joe and reading my latest book when I have a flash that these were the moments I dreamed about. Why, I don't always know. The safety perhaps. My comfy corner in my little (rented, so not really mine) house with my husband working away in his office on his dissertation and my dog at my feet. The coffee seems to stand for it all. And somehow you put that into words.

Toni said...

I think that's what the beauty of writing is. Putting the intangible into the tangible. For me at least, it's almost like therapy that way. Whether it's blogging or writing my inner thoughts in my journal. There's something about working through these things my writing about the "simple" things cloaked in seeming insignificance... it really is by small and simple things that great things are brought to pass. Great post!

The Lewicutt's est 2006 said...

Whoever tries to convince you that the little things don't matter... is monumentally... wrong. A man has flown me half way around the world, but he didn't make me coffee, he didn't sit and enjoy music with me, he didn't read beside me, we did have a "typical" Friday night that we enjoyed together... and because of all those little things that our love lacked- in the end, it was empty. Whether in love or just every day life- if you're not soaking in and holding on to and anticipating the little things, I'm not sure what you're life is comprised of?

beck beck said...

girl, out of all the blogs i follow or have come across, yours is my favorite. hands down. i've been a reader for about a year now, and i have to say, i adore how you mold your words to describe the indescribable. you have a gift. never ever stop writing because you are incredible. you are an inspiration to me-- to be honest in my writing, to embrace the sad days as well as the happy, and to not be afraid to fall in love or chase after dreams. thank you, thank you, for all of your posts but most especially this one.

beckbeckrec.blogspot.com

Nikki said...

there are so many things I want to say in response to this, but, i fear that i will leave behind a paragraph full of rather un-organized thoughts, strewn all over the place. so, i will simple say: thank you for this. there is so much of this with which i have felt the same way, whether in the past or the present. and it feels so good to see someone write it out so articulately, beautifully, and with such depth.

Elizabeth said...

Meg,

I have that very same journal (in red!) and I am lucky enough to enjoy a Melbourne latte every day. You're right about the coffee over here.

The greatest things about coffee are the rituals of making and holding and savouring each drop, and you have described so well how comforting it can be whether times are happy or sad.

We're very lucky to be able to read your stories. x

Anonymous said...

That was really beautiful.

Ana Magdalena said...

I didn't have any time to read this long post during the week, so I waited until today: this is my Friday treat. Thank you for writing it!

Chloe said...

This was so beautiful to read, so heartfelt and insightful. You certainly have a way with words and I am very annoyed at myself for not finding your blog earlier.

It seems I have a lot to catch up on. Thank heavens for all my free time this summer. Your blog is beautiful and I look forward to everything else that you have to offer. All I can say is: thank you!

Chloe xxx

Rachael said...

Your coffee being the tangible touching down point in your ups and downs reminds me of my car. I realized it was my tangible touching down point when I got into it two winters ago. I had moved to the east coast with my then boyfriend. We were planning to get engaged in the summer but in the last days of January, he realized he didn't love me anymore. He packed up his things and I put him on the airplane.
I came home and stopped going to all my classes. I spent every waking moment (and there were a lot of them as I couldn't sleep) packing. I put everything in storage, withdrew from graduate school and came home to California. Months later... when my insides were slightly unclenched and I realized that I could never live that far from my family, I came back for my stuff. Including my car. The one I'd had since 17. The one I'd occasionally had to live in. Where I kept a cactus alive in the cup holder and grass growing in the side-wells. With it's bumper stickers and astro-turfed back and fake flowers lining the roll bar. The thing was gross, old and super decrepit. But when I got behind the wheel, I realized this was the car I'd gotten through every breakup in. At first it was just me and the car. Then me, my giddy insides and a terribly wonderful boy. Then just me. Then me and the next exciting new flame. Then back to me. Over and over I'd relearned who I was alone on long drives. Healing drives. Just me again.