Nirvana strikes when you least expect it. A moment of utter clarity and oneness. It's rare, and it only happens when you're not trying to get there. As soon as you think about it, it's gone. It can be a nothing thing. This day it was a coffee.
I'm an accountant. Kind of. I have no qualifications. I work for my dad because he showed me how to enter the numbers into the computer and make everything balance to zero. Which always seemed strange to me. It's a great feeling when you've done everything right and it all just slots into place like a jigsaw for young kids or stupid people. At the same time it's weirdly unsatisfying to get there. You're back at zero. You've not progressed. You're essentially back at the start. Because of the nature of the beast there's always more numbers to put in, more months to reconcile. It's like running on a treadmill, you're sweating at the end, but you really didn't get anywhere, did you?
So I was on the treadmill one day and I decided that I wanted a break. I got a recommendation for a good place for coffee from a girl and decided to follow it up. It was more than a few blocks from work, but I wanted the walk. I wanted the crisp Melbourne air. I stepped outside and it started pissing rain. Typical.
The place was full of hipster douchebags and I loved it. It had chairs on the ceiling, you know the kind of place I'm talking about. Tiny little place, no awning, no signs, lots of Uni dudes with uncomfortably sculpted facial hair. The kind of place where they have different kinds of coffee to choose from, with words like 'blend' and lots of percentages I couldn't quite determine the functionality of. I ordered a latte and the guy looked at me like I was stupid.
"You want sugar with that?"
"Yeah, two please."
He scoffed as if I'd just ordered a well-done steak in a fancy restaurant. I looked at him.
"Name." he said, just like that. It wasn't a question, somehow.
I sat down and took my hat off. Today I was wearing a hat. I belonged. The coffee was ready and then the opposite of the snarky douche handed it to me with a smile. She was hipster perfection. Bob cut. Nose stud. The works. She was gorgeous.
"Yeah thanks," and something from my reptilian brain made me say
"You look beautiful."
"Nothing. Thanks for the coffee."
I walked into the rain as my face burned. What a fucking thing to say, I felt like I was going girl crazy.
I sat down on a bench and pulled out a cigarette and lit it. The coffee as great and even better with a cigarette. Then Nirvana hit. Sure it was fake Nirvana, chemical Nirvana, but it still counts. Who had time to wait around for the real thing? Not that all the shitty things in the world disappeared, but they weren't crashing around in the forefront of my head anymore. They melted into the din of the crowd for a while. Lehman Brothers. Goldman Sachs. Economic downturn. Sovereign debt crisis. Greece. Burma. Egypt. Sudan. Somalia. Syria. They were all still there but I didn't care. For a moment, just a moment, I was a dude on a bench and nothing else. Not a citizen of the world or a reader of books or a big thinker. I was just present in my own skin. A guy sucking on a cigarette and a coffee watching the world pass by - and that was okay.
You might judge me for smoking, but I only do it occasionally. Hell, there's lots of self-destructive shit in this book, you're going to draw the line at cigarettes? It feels good. People always say 'how can people start smoking nowadays, knowing what we know?' or 'why do people take drugs, don't they know it's killing them?' or course they know they just don't care. It FEELS GOOD. They wouldn't do it if it didn't FEEL GOOD. And sometimes, more than sometimes, people need to feel not shitty. They need their little Nirvanas in-between shifts so they don't kill someone. Nobody thinks that the drinks that those sky cunts serve flying customers really save lives, but they do. They really do. There’s no stats on that.
I went back to work, smiling. For a while. And then I got a nosebleed. Story of my life.
This is a short story from Jorge's (eventually) upcoming book of short stories. Follow him on twitter @JorgeTsipos to get his daily madness and listen to his weekly podcast Unnatural Selection in order to complete the brainwashing.