Breakfast

You go to sleep each night and wake up every morning looking forward to breakfast. It is your favorite meal of the day. On some days, it is the only proper meal you even have.

Breakfast is really nothing special. It’s nearly the same thing every time: eggs are assured, whether scrambled or fried – but they always need to be sufficiently salty. You usually add potatoes, and your favorites are tater tots – which surprises you because the idea of potatoes at breakfast used to baffle you strongly when you first arrived. You add on an almost impressive variety of fruits: pineapples, watermelons, grapes, bananas, peaches, orange slices – and you like to top the ‘fruit salad’ off with some Greek yogurt. You’ll often throw in something doughy: either a slice of bread or some sort of baked pastry.

Coffee is a constant. But you only drink specific brands at breakfast, and when you don’t get those, you aren’t happy.

You are a person of consistency. When it comes to what you expect out of each day, you want everything to be pɛpɛɛpɛ. When something small changes – like getting home fries when you expected tater tots – it has the potential to throw you off and upset you.

During breakfast, you often sit alone, because you nearly always walked in alone. Sometimes, one or two friends join you, sometimes they don’t. You always have breakfast in the dining hall, though. It’s the one meal you don’t abhor going there for. After all, you’re a morning person, and most people aren’t. In fact, it’s so cozy, you feel you could stay there for hours, and sometimes do.

From time to time, you remember how deeply it struck you, during your first few weeks here, how gorgeous the dining hall was. You’d never seen anything like it. It didn’t feel like a place you ate in. It looked like a slightly medieval movie set, but you liked it a lot. Those were the times when you were only just beginning to realize how much you enjoy the first meal of the day. Now, you almost take the it for granted, but not enough yet so that you don’t quite realize you are beginning to take it for granted. It is always at the back of your mind. Sometimes, it ventures to move to the front, and when it does, you feel the onset of breath-snatching anxiety.

Even outside of breakfast, you are so in love with coffee. You think about how enamored you are with iced lattes, and it terrifies and embarrasses you. There isn’t quite enough logic to it. In fact, it’s so absurd that it makes you want to burst out into deranged, hysterical laughter. What business at all does a not-rich, metropolitan Accra kid who has previously known only Nescafé, Milo, bread and Blue Band have, falling in love with – of all things – iced lattes?

Whenever you think of breakfast and coffee, and how much you are beginning to get too used to them, you desperately want to slap yourself out of your comfort. How long will you continue to have access to breakfast? Not long. Don’t get used to it. This is not your money.

Don’t you know you will graduate? Are you prepared to be stripped of your borrowed privilege? Stop getting used to it.

One, two forkfuls of food. Remember that you are reaping the benefits of a hell of a lot of financial aid. Chew. This is not your money. Swallow. All this is luxury. Another forkful incoming. Growing entitlement to something you will never be able to afford. Chew. Life after this will see you too poor for breakfast, and you simply won’t be ready for the hustle. Swallow. You are like a steward who forgot she owns none of the property she watches. Drink. When you are homeless, you are going to miss breakfast a lot. Chew. Breakfast does not belong to you. Swallow. Your brain won’t quit thinking. Your heart won’t quit racing. You start to sweat in the air-conditioned room. An air-conditioned room. You get to have breakfast in an air-conditioned room. Heartbeat. Loud breaths. Breakfast. Luxury. Not mine. Sweat. Heartbeat. Breakfast. Solitude. Beauty. Cozy. Private. Morning. Eggs. Bread. Coffee. Never mine. Heartbeat. Loud breaths. Sweat.

Brain blanks.

You are done eating. You put your plates away.  As you walk out the dining hall door, you think: When my destined poverty finally catches up to me, I will remember scrambled eggs and coffee.

-Akotowaa

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