The evening is still early and I have nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no thoughts. Dinner has digested perfectly and the cool northern California air touches my neck and arms ever so slightly. Open on the table sits a bottle of Tuscan red wine, with a photo of a hillside estate overlooking rolling vineyards. I am there and the wine enters me, passing through my mouth and throat, warming my heart and mind. I have forgotten a little bit, and I taste it again. The sensations repeat but I can’t feel them as much. The wine tastes so good, so red, and lovely.
I take my coffee all black. Dark, with all natural complexion and cream. She, or it, cannot be tainted. I love my coffee. One cup in the morning, fresh from the French press. A medium roast sits for five to ten minutes before I’m out the door awaiting the awakening of my morning roast. That first warm sip enters my soul and resonates, creating a sealed yet fluid chamber in my body within which the rest of my Joe can perform, and it does.
I’ve brushed and flossed, my teeth, gums, and tongue are clean. The alcohol content is potent to permeate the tiniest spores in my mouth, lacing them with a freshening, burning sensation. I feel it, alive as the burn runs over my gums and tongue, flawlessly finalizing my nighttime cap. My mouth is treated, the day put to rest, and I’m ready for sleep.
I haven’t touched red wine, black coffee, or Listerine for perhaps ten weeks now, but I dream of them. They are the little things, the indulgences, that make me happy. Even before I knew I had cancer, black coffee started to make me nauseous. I’m not sure why. Upon delivering my diagnosis, the oncologist answered that I could have a glass of red wine that night, a few days prior to the start of treatment. I did, but haven’t since, and a bottle that I previously bought sits unopened on the countertop, thinking of me. Several nurses advised that I not use alcohol-based mouthwash due to the abundance of bacteria located in the mouth. I still don’t understand the logic–shouldn’t the burn kill the bacteria?
These foregone pleasures now feel so much better. I don’t know if I could have ever appreciated them as much before, and I don’t believe they will ever taste the same again. The wine will be smoother and warmer, and the coffee more robust. Brushing my teeth will never be the same.
I don’t think of these foregone pleasures too often, but I’m often reminded of them, and once I’m ready I shall indulge.