There’s a great moment in U2 By U2
where Bono, returning from a year or more of nonstop touring, asks a friend, “Do you have a routine I could use?” The friend, knowing that Bono hasn’t had any domestic stability in a long time, explains how he likes to get up in the morning, go to a local coffee shop, converse with the regulars, and read the newspaper. Bono is amazed by this. I’ve been home a week now, regaining my hemispheric equilibrium, contemplating the second draft of the Viking epic, and wondering about the shape of my life. The office feels more distant than ever, a miniature corporate diorama observed through the wrong end of a telescope. I don’t remember the lights being so . . . fluorescent. My house is cluttered and leaden, full of things I don’t use or need, things I can’t carry with me. The local highways, eerily empty upon our early-morning return, confound me. How do I get from A to B?
I’ve always been a creature of structure and routine. Each day begins with The Coffee Ritual, a meticulous way of producing a simple cup of press-pot coffee, taken black. This is my preferred style, but in New Zealand I learned that it’s hard to find anything similar. There is no drip coffee, what most Americans are used to, but instead a panoply of familiar-sounding styles: long blacks, short blacks, flat whites. I tended to favor the long black, but on occasion would order the half-strength Americano. At Wellington’s celebrated Caffe L’affare this came in the form of a single shot of espresso accompanied by a cup of hot water. I had to assemble the drink myself, like tea.
Funny how something as simple as coffee can remain a constant across continents and time zones, a touchstone of familiarity and longing, something to hold onto when the world feels foreign. And now The Coffee Ritual points irrevocably back the other way to my brief sojourn in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Labels: Bono, coffee, longing, New Zealand, routine