The words of work and the words of life are two very different kinds of words for me.
My work words – bedside work, school work, internship work – come with a pressure. Not a bad pressure, really, not a pressure unlike the pressure you’d use to compress a bleeding vessel, or pump fluid quickly into a vein — these words are purposeful, urgent, necessary. But these words take energy without replenishing it; like living with a thirsty teenager, there’s often an empty carton in the fridge at the end of the day.
Life words, though, they come when I let them in, like the music I stream into my ears. There is no emergency with these words – I like them, I welcome them, I wish for them to sit and have my morning coffee with me, even as the newspaper or Twitter or homework — words of work — wait impatiently.
These are the words of quiet arugula dinners with just jazz and old beer. These are the words of the first light of day seeping softly into the window; a blue blanket of ease and new. These words make songs and pictures and art with my space, and when I grab them from my brain, like I grabbed the ripe figs on the tree in the courtyard at school tonight, they come together easily, mixing well with every ingredient of my day.
This morning, a friend, a coffee-friend, told me that he’ll be leaving the country on Saturday to return home to Japan. At first mention, I thought his travel just a vacation, but as I sat with wilting latte in hand, he told me no. He and his wife and baby son would return to his city outside of Tokyo for good. No more easy coffee chats, no more words of life with him on his bar stool, at his odd bar, with his vegan banana chocolate cake that blended the words of work into the words of life for me.
The moments when I greet work and life with the same voice are rare ones, dependent on factors I very often ignore. I like when they meet. My coffee friend brought pressure together with music, and in his friendship, I found a quiet, comforting insistence to continue. I’ll have to visit him.