Some cultivated accents of varying distance across the Atlantic. I dragged a thermos of tea to every class. I've repeated this several times, so feel free to tune me out. In addition to the tea, I made a point of being very tuned in, even if (or because) certain teachers in elementary school thought that looking out the window meant I wasn't. Drinking tea in class seems like an ostentatious distraction, but it's a beverage of alertness, something imagined to bring about clarity. I did imagine. I was drinking it to bring the world into focus, and with it the teacher's instruction, confirming my general teacher's petness. Conspicuously, I do not recall ever drinking it to wake myself up during Geometry, whose whirring projector, dim lights, and instructor all lulled me just shy enough of sleep not to draw attention to myself.
The tea, though, was of a particular character I was obsessed with then, but today I would call overbrewed. It had no milk, yet often, it was just the sort of tea that cries out for milk, like an infant does, by being unbearable. But unbearable, too, can be bearable. Assam was made to take milk, but that doesn't mean its wanton manipulations stop after it gets it. It wouldn't be so pleasurable to drown its unpleasantness if tannic intimations did not remain underneath all that soothing milk.
Such tea is its own drowning, taken in small sips as if it were something stronger, drying out the mouth, seeming to close off the oriface entirely, even if liquid continues going down it. In any case, while tea flows the rest is slowed. (Which is a funny bit of selective attention, really, because when tea dries you out, it's because you're pissing every five minutes.) Intake slows to a sumptuous constipation (meanwhile, the bowels liquidate). It may still be possible, however, to regurgitate if asked. The flavor does tend to give that sense. However, as I've said far too many times, it gives way to sweetness, what at first tastes like soap.
There's nothing so posessive as negation, and here I am after all these years, continuing claim this counteringestive gesture. Carrying a bottle of tea around high school was a way of putting a seal (pun intended) on my terror and hatred of the place, but it was also something exuberant, a way of bringing elsewhere with me. Of course, you could argue exuberance has no need for all this holding--neither absence in nor presence away. But never mind that thing that others seem to, for lack of a better word, have. I have tea.
One could also argue--and some have--that people get repetitive and boring--as I keep accusing myself of--precisely because of this melancholic retentiveness. But what exactly lies beyond attachment but more attachment? That, I suppose, is their point: One ought to forget that one is repeating oneself. Change is less substantive than it is imagined or recounted. But don't think of it that way. The point is to tell an entertaining story. Something fresh, something new. So that those listening feel fresh and new. It's a kind of juice bar, out there. Everyone's dying to see something squeezed that'll get them trimmer.