My mother’s boyfriend, KJ as we call him, eats the same breakfast every day: Fruit. Bowl of Total with a sliced banana. A piece of toast and coffee. He prepares his own breakfast and has his routine down to a tee. First priority is coffee.
He grinds the beans and starts brewing the coffee. Then, the foods.
The fruit is always seasonal. Blueberries or strawberries. Pineapple or mango. Cantaloupe, honeydew or watermelon. Apples, oranges, even grapefruit. With the fruits, it is all about equal opportunity. He respectfully cleans and mindfully prepares the fruit on a plate then sets it aside.
Cereal. He grabs a bowl, his cereal of choice for 10+ years, a banana and seats himself. Morning paper in tow, he starts with the sports section as he slices the banana into the cereal. Before he starts eating, he pours a cup of coffee that is finished brewing by then. The coffee, is always poured before the milk into the cereal.
The toast, is always the same bread. He fancies baguettes and very particular, so once he finds the perfect kind from wherever bakery, that’s all he eats. He once ate the same bread for 20 years. He apparently found a favorite bread from his local bakery and only ate their bread since the day of discovery. He buys a baguette a week. As soon as he returns home from shopping, he beelines to the kitchen, slices the loaf and freezes the pieces in a Ziplock bag. When my mother and him relocated to Hawaii, it took him almost two years to settle on a bakery and bread of choice. But even through the breads he did not fancy, he did the same thing: Buy, slice, freeze.
After he pours his coffee, he takes a piece of bread out of the freezer and puts it in the toaster oven to defrost. Finally, he starts eating.
When the cereal is mid to almost consumed, he gets up to start the toaster and pours his second cup of coffee. He finishes the rest of the cereal, and just when the last bit of flakes disappear, the ping of the toaster goes off. He lets the bread sit for a few seconds to brown, puts the cereal bowl into the sink and on his way back to sitting down, grabs the toast. He cuts two pads of butter into eight squares and strategically places them to cover the entire surface. When the butter is spread gridlike, it is evenly distributed. Once the toast is finished, he sets the plate aside to start the fruit.
Every morning, for longer than I have lived, he’s had this same routine.
When my brother and I moved in with my mother and KJ, I joined him for breakfast the very next morning. It was our first morning together. We said our greetings and he went about his routine.
Part of me was braced for awkward conversation. But he had breakfast as he always did — with one exception: He included me into his routine and increased the portions to accommodate me. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I wasn’t a breakfast eater, so I just sat at the table, reading the paper, watching him from my peripheral vision. There were no strained conversations and we sat in comfortable silence.
From that day forth, I became a breakfast eater. We had this ritual, every morning, until the day I moved out.
Looking back, I now realize breakfast with KJ was the sole constant I lacked my whole life. I haven’t seen him since my mother died, but I am sure he still eats the breakfast everyday.