And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
One morning, as I finished up with a coaching client, we fell to chatting. “Kathie, tell me,” she said, “about you and coffee.”
Me and coffee.
I get asked a lot of things, by students, clients, readers. Most common is the question about my writing process. Next in line is the question about how I get so much done. But I was never asked before about me and coffee. It is a love affair. Coffee drives my heartbeat, flows through my veins, is the first to say good morning to me every day. We are soulmates. Attached at the lips.
Coffee and I met when I was in the second or third grade. I lived in way northern Minnesota and I walked to school, so my mother wanted me to have something hot at breakfast. There was already a percolator of coffee, so it was an easy thing to give me a cup. I took one sip and then reached for the sugar bowl. Five heaping teaspoons later, I had coffee so thick and sweet, I had to stir it between every sip. And I was hooked.
Coffee and I became constant companions. I discovered coffee-flavored candy and coffee-flavored ice cream. My father came from Connecticut and we spent some time out there every summer, always lugging home a carton or two of coffee-flavored syrup that was made on the east coast. We put it in milk and over ice cream. It was my favorite part of our trip.
Interestingly, that syrup showed up in one of Wally Lamb’s books. Reminded of it, I looked for it on Amazon, found it, ordered it, tried it…and hated it. It tasted like chemicals, which it likely was.
I started drinking gas station lattes and cappuccinos somewhere in my mid to late thirties. You know, the kind made by a machine that coughs out a dusty powder and adds hot water. But no more, except in an emergency. Because eventually, I answered that caffeinated siren song.
Yes, I know. Big corporation. Support the little guy. But I do. I have my favorite drink in every little coffee shop around town. But Starbucks has my drink-to-end-all-drinks. The grande cinnamon dolce latte with only two pumps of syrup please. Extra hot when it’s cold out. Iced when it’s hot. Delicious all the time. I don’t even need to order anymore. I just call into the speaker, “Hey, it’s Kathie.”
Last July, on the day I had my partial mastectomy, my son drove to Starbucks for me, post-op. He called out my order, written down for him so he’d get it right, into the speaker. There was a pause, and then the speaker-voice said, “Is this for Kathie?” My son said yes. My cinnamon dolce, extra hot, just two pumps of syrup, arrived with well-wishes written all over the cup. And it was on the house.
Best cinnamon dolce ever.
I asked for coffee after the births of all four of my children. At the reception of my first wedding, my silver engraved wine goblet held coffee. I’ve held coffee in my hands as I’ve gazed at the ocean, at sunsets, at the rare (for me) sunrise. When I launch books, teach classes, present workshops, I usually have a mug of coffee in my hand. If a moment is important…there’s coffee. Times of elation, times of sadness, times of frustration…coffee.
But the best part?
Meeting someone in a coffee shop. Student, friend, family, lover. Looking at that person over the rim of my mug. Dreams mixed in the steam and someone else’s eyes. Wrapping my hands around the mug, soaking in the heat. Sometimes, someone’s hands wrapping over mine, so I am encased in warmth. Good conversation. Good coffee.
“Coffee makes me happy,” I said to my client that morning.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.