A story about latte art + life left unstyled.
I have always loved road trips, train rides, flights — any travel scenario with a view out the window, affording a thick slice of time for daydreams to unravel in a captive seat. When I was little, I used to cherish the three-hour drive from home to my aunt and uncle’s house each Thanksgiving. I would plug in my headphones and listen to the same songs on repeat on my hot pink iPod Mini — before that, it was CDs via Walkman, when Walkmen still existed — while watching the scenery swoosh past like a wet oil painting. I would pretend that I was in a movie. I visualized a camera zoomed in on my musing face while I played out my internal monologue in my head. It was like a game, imagining life cropped into short, sweet scenes, set to a self-selected soundtrack. In film form, any mood could be contorted to a mellower rendition, captured in recognizable cliches, and toned to match a chosen tune. But the game always ended the second the car stopped. When the car stopped, life began again: with all of its messy jolts and sloppy spontaneity, sans styling or cropping or background music. … I’m blogging less lately, and I went two days in a row this week without posting anything on Instagram — for me, that was almost a record. Sometimes, you have to make a choice between finishing a blog post or catching an award-winning brass band from New Orleans in a free, last-minute, once-in-a-lifetime concert in your neighborhood. Sometimes, you have to make a choice between perfecting the setting on the cafe table shared with a friend, tweaking the colors with photo filters, fine-tuning a caption — or sipping the coffee and conversation while they’re still piping hot. Sometimes, you have to make a choice between styling, capturing, and contorting or just, you know, living. Lately, I choose the concert. I choose piping hot. I choose living in real time. … I’ve stopped ordering lattes. The truth is, I prefer black coffee. Even bad black coffee. The kind you can get from the corner bodega with burnt and gritty grounds at the bottom of the cup. It took me a long time — at least a year — to realize that I was ordering lattes I didn’t even want, just because they looked pretty. I like pretty things. I like fresh flower bouquets and red lipstick and delicately designed espresso. I like neatly composed table settings and perfectly cropped photos. I…
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