I’ve been thinking about coffee a lot lately. I’m officially obsessed with a venti caramel iced coffee from Starbucks and it’s a daily occurrence when I’m here. When I’m home, I have my $0.99 iced coffee from Cumberland Farms and the second I sip it, I’m back at Choate, flying down Colony Road in my minivan so I can get my post-workout, pre-yoga iced coffee and it’s the summer where I realized a dream. I was never a coffee person until last year in London -- I think I was afraid of becoming a caffeine addict or something. My advisor, Dr. Entelis, happened to be in London presenting a paper at LSE, and he suggested we meet for coffee. I realized that I couldn’t act like a 12-year old and order a hot chocolate at All Bar One, so when he ordered a cappuccino, I did the same, and the rest is history. I fell in love with the foamy milk at the top, and the thick espresso, and how warm and satisfying it was. I would go to Caffe Nero on Kingsway and do administrative work while sipping on a cappuccino with chocolate powder on the top and I felt so grown up and “European”. When I was in Zurich, I popped into this cafe that Lenin used to frequent, and in Paris, I read a book in Le Quasimodo while sipping on the most beautiful cappuccino I had ever seen. When I visited my family in Ireland, I tried Bailey's coffee and all I can say is "Slainte" to that. I liked being able to say, “Oh, let’s meet for coffee” and complaining that I was in desperate need of caffeine on an early morning bus ride to Wales. I didn’t really know what being in desperate need of caffeine meant until last semester when I basically didn’t sleep and needed little boosts throughout my day. I would be rushing down 125th street, still half-asleep because I had been up until 2 in the morning finishing my reading, and would pray that I had just enough time to stop in McDonalds for an iced coffee, or that I could at least go into CVS and get a Bai juice, just to get through the first part of my day. I will admit that I’m not one to crave a cup of drip coffee from a Keurig. It just doesn’t do it for me. Instead, I dream of a macchiato, a caffe mocha, or an iced coffee. Iced coffee is really where it’s at for me. It’s cold and refreshing and I tell myself it’s hydrating because of the ice as I take tiny sips of the last dregs when the ice is melting.
I have a collection of coffee mugs now, which I realized only this week. I got a mug from the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and one with “Fordham Pep Band Alumni” on it as a senior gift. I got a huge mug from Starbucks in London that has this beautiful relief of the city on it, and “London” inscribed on the inside rim that I look at every time I take a sip. That one is only for tea because it’s a substantial mug that gives me the perfect amount of Egyptian Licorice, or Throat Coat tea. I’m so bad about washing it, so the inside is coated in tea remnants, which I know is kind of gross, but it gives it character. There’s the blue mug with the handle inside the mug, so you can wrap your hand around the cup as you sip. It doesn’t fit underneath my HotShot so it mostly chills on my nightstand as a pretty trinket. My best friend Brittany knows how deep my love of tea goes, and she’s been taking ceramics classes, so for my birthday, she gave me beautiful mug that she painted herself. It says something about how, regardless of how far we are in distance, we’re never that far from each other, and I think of her every time I look at it. She also got me this loose tea infuser that looks like someone wearing pants, so the little arms go over the rim of the cup and it looks like the person is just chilling in the mug, infusing your tea. Too cute.
I was making tea for a friend last night in the orange mug that was on my desk and I suddenly remembered how I acquired it. When my parents dropped me off on August 26th, 2012, my mom handed me a gift bag and told me to open it later. Inside was the softest cashmere wrap that she said would be perfect after a shower with a cup of tea. There were also two matching orange mugs for me and Christianna, my roommate. I don’t know if she still has hers, but now when I look at this mug, I think of how scared I was freshman year, how I cried in the bushes of Loyola on my third night, and how I’m living here now as a senior. I think of how my dad got me the HotShot and how it has somehow survived almost four years and countless uses. It’s a good sturdy mug in a cheerful orange, and it’s exactly what I needed on that first night. Thanks, mom.
Coffee is becoming a social thing, too. I love walking to Dunkin with Jamie and sitting on Eddie’s. Walking to Starbucks guarantees a good stretch and a friendly face at some point. When I’m home and need a place to focus on job apps and side hustles, I’ll drive to Starbucks and easily spend four hours entranced and motivated by the hum of strangers and acquaintances from home. I’ll come out smelling like coffee, and I think it’s one of the best perfumes there is, and it lasts much longer. It’s an easy way to catch up with a friend that doesn’t take as long as dinner and is completely socially acceptable in the middle of the day...unlike drinking a bottle of wine. It’s a way to meet someone you’ve been wanting to know but don’t know how to tell them other than, “Do you want to get coffee sometime?” And then you’ll agonize over what to wear before remembering that great stripey dress you got over spring break and pairing it with a denim jacket, sneakers, and cute crossbody with sunglasses. You’ll walk down to the new coffee shop with the sun shining and the prospect of a great cappuccino and an even better conversation adding spring to your step.
Life is great. Coffee makes it better.