It is a quarter past six. I am crossing the haphazardly built car park of a little mall complex in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. In my left hand is a chic-size brown paper bag containing one espresso americano, a caffeine-restricted alternative sold by a franchise of the same name. The espresso americano is accompanied by three complimentary packets of sugar, a narrow black stirring straw, and three serviettes. I am going to use one of the serviettes to wipe my mouth after the coffee, and put the other two in my pocket to serve as potential tissues later on. The sky is a dark blue tone: night is almost here, but everywhere colours are still vibrant. The heavy dose of sugar in my blood is working. I take a deep breath, and the air reminds me of my youth. I feel nostalgic.
It is starting to get cold. I stroll past the car park’s ticket booth and worry about my attention span. The world offers too much to learn. I weigh the advantages of memorising first-grade kanji before having left Honduras for Tokyo, or spending my remaining 47 days here studying Spanish. The coffee is going to make things worse. It has just enough caffeine to be stimulating, but not enough to make my muscles ache from lack of activity. I have considered this carefully before making the purchase.
Waiting for a chance to cross the street to my apartment, the car fumes induce another fleeting memory. My sense of smell is keen and does this often, and I almost always feel euphoric afterwards. Immediately I am standing on the lawn of an expensive house on the Sunshine Coast, Australia, at a teenage birthday party. The girls have put hours of preparation into their appearance, but the boys are afraid to talk to them. There are well-ironed white shirts, hair gel, and strong perfume. I come back to the moment and take stock of the Honduran street scene. It is not all that different. I am pleased that there are similarities. An internal voice reminds me to breathe from my stomach, and I walk home.