There is nothing like take-out coffee; its cardboard warmth, its frothy goodness and the biting cold with which it battles. It’s 8.00 a.m. and I am thinking about it with intensity while power-walking into town. Alas, I am wanting what I cannot have: I am too late to stop for coffee.
Since Tuesday, I have been attending a TEFL course in North Great George’s street, whose buildings boast impressive bursts of red ivy which are modesty excluded from its otherwise ostentatious (yet merited) title. I haven’t seen morning-time for months and so I am slightly smug as I accept a few too many copies of Herald-AM, which those directionless enough still to be asleep must forego. The damp and golden leaves on Mount Pleasant Avenue and the chill in the air suggest a sludgy promise to me; for the next month, my compulsive google job -search sessions are on hold as I join the pleasurable rank of those with a place to go each morning.
My speed-walk is a collage of brown and orange coffee cups with a backdrop of swaying morning drunkards, slick black business suits and slowly-moving traffic. A man is walking his shaggy sheep dog and his husky down Camden Street and there is a bag of brocoli waiting to be stewed into pub grub outside The Bleeding Horse. I feel like I am watching over the city as it wakes.
In the back of my mind, I am thinking about the class I have to teach later on and whether my clothes are on the right-side up, which is not a given, since I left the house on Tuesday with my dress on inside-out. Andrew Bird is giving me an aural massage as I flick through the Herald AM and decide whether, hypothetically, given the time, I would get a white chocolate mocha or a caramel machiato.
And then – at the end of Harcourt Street – leaned against the Postbox, I see her slouched. I have been watching her for months now. She has on every day an off-white fleece and blue jeans. Bent over and biting a cigarette, I see cupped in her hands an empty coffee cup.