Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Who: Davóne Tines
Where: Raleigh, N.C.
Recommendation: Reconnecting through daily rituals and learning to make the perfect cup of coffee
I've spent the past few years endlessly traveling for my work as an "entrepreneurial opera singer" of sorts. After the world shut down and my work as a performer was put on hold until further notice, I decided to take my brother up on his invitation to become his roommate. I gathered all my stuff that had been strewn between friends' places in New York, a storage unit in Baltimore and my grandparents' archive of a garage in Virginia, and moved into my brother's two bedroom townhouse in Raleigh, N.C.
For the first time in over a decade, my brother and I are sharing a home. Our lives, since his finishing high school and my finishing college, have set us off on divergent roller coaster paths of change. Our paths have collided at intervals, regular for their timing (like holidays and family vacations) yet irregular for their context (like post-breakup or pre-new job). I didn't realize — until the past few weeks, after gratefully watching the dust begin to settle on, or transition into, roommate-hood — that in our adulthood, we had never spent real time together as our "regular day-to-day selves." Not rushing to go Christmas shopping, or trying to explain three months of our lives in three meals; but actually just living as ourselves in a place we both call home.
I noticed this mainly by the now regular occurrence of conversations that actually have time to breathe — time to grow. Where our past encounters seemed like lighting a match, our current extended encounters allow time for the spark of a subject to catch fire, blaze up, then cook down into embers that we can revisit day after day.
One place this shows up is in the ritual of making coffee. Before I moved in, my brother made drip coffee and I used a French press. After disagreements on whether the press was efficient enough or easy enough to clean, we reconciled by getting a Chemex glass coffeemaker for making pour-overs. Slower than both a drip and a press, the Chemex now forces me to stand — present and attentive— in the kitchen while my brother sits in the adjoining dining-area-turned-office.
There is no way to rush this process and I'm beginning to see the magic in it. For the 20 minutes or so it takes to complete the whole process, we're both held in space together not distracted by food or TV, just simple ritual. There is nothing else to do but hold space together in a way we just haven't been able to before. For that, especially in these times and because of these times, I am thankful.
Davóne Tines is an opera singer who recently co-created The Black Clown, a music theater experience inspired by Langston Hughes' poem of the same name, which premiered in 2018. He recently had to cancel and postpone performances due to the coronavirus pandemic.