I bet you think this post is going to be a real downer but I think that the fact that I am ridiculous will probably amuse you…
I first dealt with my own mortality when I was 19. If you had asked my then fiance about his mortality he would have told you that he started dealing with it at age 6 when his grandfather died. My grandma, who I had been really close to, had died when I was 14 and it did not effect me like that at all. I was sad and I missed her but it had no baring on me. When I was 14 I still had a lot of faith.
So what happened when I was 19 that changed all of that? Dark coffee.
When I was 19, I was going to Baker for a secondary education degree and working at the library. I had a crush on one of my coworkers. No, that’s not fair. I was in love with him and I was very unhappy with my fiance. (Oh, isn’t that foreshadowing?) I was sick a lot that year because I was living on 1000 or less calories and was down to 105 lbs, which I should never be. This coworker and I had carried on flirtations for months. We took long walks together, traded music and books, and hung out a lot because my schedule and my fiance’s schedule didn’t line up very well. However, by mid-fall things had taken a turn. I had decided to break up with my fiance at the end of summer and the coworker had told me not to and we had gotten into this odd holding pattern where he pined for me and resented me and I resented him for encouraging me to stay and “not caring for me enough” to take me. At least, that’s what it seems like when I look back at it. The coworker went with me while I shopped for a guitar and one day we went out to Port Huron and stopped at The Raven, this awesome cafe in a Civil War era building where everything is Poe themed and there is music and the walls are lined with books. We ordered the dark roast and we drank a pot of it and I went home and had a horrible horrible dream about death.
Was it really the coffee? No but in my head I decided it was. It was a lot of things. It was my coworker who was going through an existentialist phase and was constantly trying to convince me that none of this mattered and we were all just machines. It was growing up. I mean, I had to think about death sooner or later. But it was also this deep dissatisfaction that had been growing and growing inside me.
It was horrible. I was sure for a long time that when we die we just go nowhere and that meant that none of this mattered and there was no reason to do anything at all. I couldn’t watch things that made me think of death and I couldn’t read things that dealt too explicitly with it and I had nightmares that would make me wake up and have panic attacks in the middle of the night. But I blamed that coffee, regardless of how much coffee I was drinking at the local dive restaurant where we would drink coffee and smoke and talk for hours.
But in the end it turned out alright. Because I suddenly understood that I couldn’t just live forever, I changed some things. I started asking more of my fiance for a while. I transferred to a different university and got an straight English degree instead. I let myself enjoy things a little more, which meant I also put on more weight. Since then, I’ve thrown myself into more, even if that more is having a nice stout and reading. That coworker? Well, he’s married now and his wife and him introduced me to The Fiance and they’re both in our wedding.
Still, every time I drink dark coffee, I think about my mortality.