I had woken up early to give Nick a ride to work, but he had decided to walk. Wanting to avoid the idle feeling of a girl just playing records in some man's apartment while he's at work, I felt my way to the kitchen (it was light out already, but early, and I am young). It was nine o'clock, and I knew Ian wouldn't wake up for some time. About an hour, I guessed, judging by the mornings when he'd stumble into Nick's room, mountain hair and cigarette, and we'd three prepare for our different days, sunlight from 25th Street ringing against the turrets.
So there was time. I started with coffee, brought as a gift from my job, finely ground, the bean to convince me that coffees lighter than French roast could be worth a damn. We don't always want to hear that there are worlds beyond mud or water. I threw the old filter out with immediate renewal. As with all percolators different from my own, I walked blindly and purposefully into the measurements, probably adding more coffee and less water than I should. But you know the song: How you hit the START button and the scent is in the air at once. Like it's already brewed and been waiting for you to catch up.
I began a survey of the larder. I knew it would have to be almost all protein to start the morning; I had reached a point of no-oats-no-more. But the eggs would have to come last, they'd cook almost instantly, and there was so much time. So, with half audacity, half leisure, I picked up the odds and ends of breakfast where I felt like it. From a blue box, I found a block of cheese with mold sprouting on the north side, and grated a zealous amount onto the cutting board. I scrubbed out several pans that had seen better days and would probably see worse. The avocado appeared unredeemable, but what's brown is not necessarily bad, and I salvaged a fair pile of it, once bits of the rotting pit were separated. I couldn't tell if the brush was to scrub vegetables or dishes, so I washed three potatoes in the balls of my hands, palming away the dirt and setting them to drain beside the sink with plates.
I had made my peace that a sweet onion and can of diced tomatoes were to serve as seasoning. It wasn't ideal, but sometimes we all go to war with no shoes. And I reasoned there was plenty of pepper and our waking taste buds to improve what was lacking. But searching for a bowl to begin scrambling eggs in, and wondering whether or not I should fry bread, there appeared to me a whole shelf of faded spices. Cayenne that had lost its kick. Rosemary at the bottom of the jar. Grocery-store basil, which always means basil that smells like a pizzeria and not an herb. And an unsealed baggie of oregano, which I revived by crushing it between my fingers. This is how you settle an argument, I thought, sprinkling it over the potatoes while they drank up olive oil faster than I could pour.
Ian stumbled in around then, surprised at the meal nearly awaiting him, and I said, Sure, I'd love a cigarette. We talked for a while over the chilling coffee, about how the perfect housewife cooks and swears, and the liquid from the cheese that wasn't going to cook off the eggs no matter how long I let them go. That didn't taste so bad once you accepted it.