The First Sip: On Being Not Bored.

“I think I am going to make a second pot of coffee today,” my Someone told me.

“No!” I cried out, a little more urgently than I had anticipated.  I decided to follow the feeling through, anyway. “You haven’t even finished your first cup!  How can you even be thinking about a second pot when you haven’t gotten to your second cup?”

“Okay,” he said, “Fine.  I’ll finish this cup first.”

I felt embarrassed.  So I naturally decided to dig in a bit further instead of backing away.  “It’s just, how can we spend our whole lives thinking about the next cup of coffee with a cup of coffee already in our hands?!”

“This,” he responded, “coming from the woman who is planning tonight’s dinner before breakfast.”

“Not the same,” I said, “Clearly I am just looking out for us– somebody in this family has to plan out our groceries so they don’t go bad.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

He continued writing.  I continued being self righteous.

“A second pot might be necessary today,” I said.

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This was three weeks before the world started spinning backwards.  This was before my belly began growing.  Before my brain started inflating my guts.  But it was the first prophecy.

“I’m not pregnant,” I kept telling my Someone.  But neither of us could deny the growing space in my lower guts pooching out over my yoga pants and through my dresses.  “It’s probably just gas.”

But as the month kept going, the pooch got bigger.  The pain got bigger.  I started fasting.  I exercised more.  I ate less.  I hated eating.  Everything was uncomfortable.  I was sleeping in the day.  I was staying up late worrying.  I was having trouble breathing.  I was blaming the cheese from the pizza or the change in the weather or the not-long-enough hike.  I was thinking to the next thing that could help my belly stop growing.  And my belly kept growing.

“This is getting crazy,” I said.

“It’s feeling like a lot,” my Someone said.

“I can’t stop bleeding, either,” I said.

“We have to get help,” he said.

“We can’t afford help,” I said.  And as I said it, I felt my belly get bigger.

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“I don’t want to go!” I cried out to my Someone as we walked our two dogs back to the camper.  We were four days in to our five night stint in the woods.  I was already feeling the pressure of rejoining the world– the buzzing phone and the computer screen and the election results and the eating one meal thinking about the next.

We read books here.  We took hikes.  We hugged our dogs.  We slept when the sun slept and woke when the moon slept.

But here it was, leaking in: the next thing.  I was already willing myself back to Nashville.  I was angry.  I was concocting a plan for us to live forever in the woods.  I was thinking of the next getaway.  Then, I remembered the second pot of coffee.

I am so bored.  I am so damn bored.

I am bored from one cup of coffee in the morning to my last glass of whatever golden or clear or fizzy beverage I have at night.  Between, I am bored by an array of meals and snacks.  And between those, bored by a constant succession of tasks and fun activities and requirements and pleasures and conversations until I sleep.

In the morning, or sometimes at night, I make a deluxe plan of savoring my first sip of coffee in the morning.  I imagine my not bored self deep in meditation– on accident!– on my yoga mat.  This version of me rolls the coffee around my tongue and leisurely closes her eyes and is transported to a world of that sip– a water slide of coffee that warms every sense from the fingers curled around the cup to sight of the liquid coming toward her face.  She is someone who can’t imagine being anywhere else, and is in fact nearly unsure of where she is for the love of the moment.

The problem is, I am always imagining her while I am waiting in my bed for sleep, or in downward dog before the coffee has been brewed.  And I realized I cannot be the person present with her first sip if I am not also the person presently waiting for sleep.  Or the person presently telling her Someone she loves him.  Or the person presently petting her dogs.  This Zen Coffee Woman will always be sidestepped with quick pushes to the next boring amazing breakfast til I am empty of being full at night.  When I am not doing, I am abstaining from the doing rather than just being.  Never just being.  If I’m not drinking, I am waiting to drink.  If I am not eating, then I am waiting to eat.  I am waiting.  I am always waiting for the next thing to catch me, and I am never being caught where I am.  So I am always bored with where I am.

Earlier this year, I have been learning to have enough.  To drink only enough and to not lose a day to too much.  To have had enough cigarettes in my life that I don’t need them anymore.  To have enough water, to have enough time to read, to spend enough time exercising.  And I’ve done it.  I can count on only a few of my fingers the times I’ve been hungover.  I quit smoking.  I’ve taken care of myself mostly.  But all of the enough came with a careful calculation– to premeditate each moment so as to not overdo anything.  Which means that while I have been stopping at enough I have also been bored with now.  I have skipped the ultimate Enough– that Now is Enough.  Right now.  This word and this word.  T.H.I.S. L.E.T.T.E.R.  This breath.

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I’ve made a First Sip Rule.  It helps.  And not just my first sip of my first thing, but my first sip of everything.  It’s not much, but it helps a little.  Somewhere to start.  Sometimes, it even helps me enjoy my last sip, too.  And I am working hard to stop imagining Zen Coffee Woman and to look at my fingers instead, to see what they are up to right then.  Usually, when this happens, they have to stop scrolling on their phone and ask my brain what it’s up to.  It usually responds with, “I was bored, but I think I will be present, instead.”

I find myself a less envious of the spot I wanted to sit in at the coffeeshop, and happier with the one I got instead.  I don’t even move when the person who occupied it left.  I am keeping my mind from my gluten free chocolate chip cookie that’s waiting for me after lunch and enjoying my salad instead.  Sometimes, I even wait to eat the cookie until later or the next day, because my not bored self just realized she was full.  When I am waiting in the car for my Someone to fill up on gas, I don’t always turn my phone on.  Instead, I say, “I am waiting in the car, now.”  And then I pet my dogs, instead.  Or see how my Someone smiles at me when he comes back out from paying.  I am learning that getting what I want is better when time is taken to figure out what I want.

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“You need to take more time,” she said.  “Sometimes, when it all becomes too much, I lay flat on my back in my office and breathe for ten minutes.  Usually, this alleviates the pooch.  And fiber.  You need more fiber.”

My doctor has a calm, Kindergarten-teacher quality about her.  I had been cleared from the ER a couple weeks previous as having nothing “too dire,” but should “follow up in case it’s cancer or something.”  I had spent the previous two weeks in fear, until the fear dulled, and I was caught up in the business of not being bored.  Before my follow up with my kind doctor lady, I noticed that the less bored I was, the less I was skirting to the next thing without noting my present thing, the smaller my belly was getting.

I was relieved.  After weeks of not knowing, I still didn’t have an answer.  It could be an allergy.  It could be a change in diet.  But for certain, my brain was igniting my guts, and my stress was exploding me belly up.  There are specialists I could see and diets I can try.  But for now, my doctor told me to spend a little time being present to see if it helps.  Breathe.  Stop thinking about the next sip.

I am under doctor’s orders to be never bored.  I wish I could prescribe my first sip of coffee this morning.  It was really something.

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