on patti smith, coffee, and winter

December. In my neighborhood.
December. In my neighborhood.

Winter. December. The endless gray. Never enough sleep.

I am still now. No wild weekends in Rome or in Christiania. I missed my flight to Paris last weekend and slept instead. I spend my days obsessing over my bullet journal, reading up on political theories, and rewatching North by Northwest. Evening staples: fuzzy socks and tea. I no longer drink flat white; I am back to the classic double shot with a small milk foam cap. The difference is there. The difference between days not so much because I can’t tell them apart. Outstanding library books, unanswered emails, unsolicited job interviews, Spotify daily mixes that somehow make me feel better. I sail through the weekdays like a ghost. Every third day is Friday. Tomorrow again.

I was recommended Benjamin Clémentine earlier and it was immediately decided that he and I will spend the entire December together. And next year, and many years to come. He makes me feel like this winter isn’t going to last too long. Like it’s all going to be okay. London is a stab in the heart in disguise. I definitely won’t pretend otherwise. I sense a cheap cliché on my part, though. Barefoot poets have always pulled at my heartstrings.

It snowed overnight but by the time I left my flat, it was all gone. The first December morning. I find myself longing for the warm Hong Kong winters. I’m slow on the slippery streets, the frozen wind cutting at my ears. The entire year flashes before my eyes and for a second I am confused as to how I managed to fit, what feels like, two years into one. For once, too much has happened. I’ve been a proper European for eighteen months now. Days and months move before me, Koop Island Blues in the background transfers me somewhere far away; away from the gray dreary morning, dreary as hell. For a few long moments, my mind is not where my body is. All I can feel on my skin is wasted time. I finish my double espresso in three sips.

I battle with sleep again. I mostly lose because I either sleep too much or not at all. And everything in between — well, what is sleep? Films and literature serve as the only lifeline, evidence of me growing stronger and better. Because that’s what I need: tangible proof that I am not the same. People and their conversations bore me. I bore them. Quiet, misunderstood, with a dark self-depreciating humor. It takes a strong person to push through that and reach the real me. Raise your hand if you hold the chip of that achievement. Self-depreciation matched with a chin too high.

As I sat in my own coffee shop, with a notebook and a black coffee this morning, I thought of Patti Smith. Paths That Cross more than Because the Night. Dream of Life has been my favorite album for at least ten years. I pictured her in NYC or maybe in Detroit. Or perhaps, revisiting Casa Azur. But why would she? Then I thought of Josie and how the older I get, the more we have in common. With a quick search, I found out that the book, which is my bible of sorts together with the White Oleander, has been made into a movie by Amber Tamblyn (forever known as Tibby to me) and that Fitch appreciates Smith as much as I do. My mother passed on Patti Smith to me and I carry the love with pride.

This is what winter does to me. But as I said, there is the lifeline. These are the things that matter, even though it may not seem like much.