I’ve taken up with an old love. He and I go all the way back to college. I had to quit him for a good 15 years there, not because of the husband and kids—no, actually he is quite helpful in my ability to function as a good wife and mother. The energy he gives me, oh my word. Even Mr. R can tell a difference. No, I had to leave him due to all the anxiety I experienced after making out with him. His name is coffee and I now have a date with him every day at 3 p.m.
It all started a few months ago with chai. She’s a sneaky mistress. All sugar and spice and everything nice, but in truth, all she really has to offer is a wee bit of caffeine delivered via 300 empty calories. She’s basically a grown up’s legitimized way of having a hot milkshake. I had to come clean about her, to myself, but darn it if she didn’t provide the slightest pick me up at that key hour.
You know that hour? The one where the big kid’s scream about the DVD skipping has awoken the little kid prematurely from a nap and now the little kid is too awake to stay in the crib and too tired to see reason? The one where it’s too early to serve dinner but too late to serve a snack? The one where it’s too late to venture out anywhere interesting, but too early Yeah, that hour.
So there I was one day, at that hour, staring at the deluxe coffee maker on our counter Mr. R has been devoted to since we received it as a wedding gift more than seven years ago. This is no ordinary coffee maker. It’s the kind of appliance that you send in for servicing, like a car. I had never heard of such a thing. But Mr. R is from coffee country. That’s right, Seattle. He’s got the stuff in his blood. A day without coffee is a day he has not seen since 1987.
I have a different history with the bean. I did grow up knowing I would not see my mother until 15 minutes after my dad delivered her coffee to her bedside. But I myself would only drink it if my serving of Java Chip melted in the bottom of my ice cream bowl before I could eat it up.
All that changed the day I got a job in college at the on-campus coffee shop called—wait for it—"Uncommon Grounds." What followed was a crash course in the intricacies of espresso, foam and needy human beings. The music was barista’s choice (I’m sure the Tuesday morning patrons appreciated my earnest accompaniment of the Indigo Girls on their 1200 Curfews live double album), the puns were plentiful and we got a free drink each shift.
And that’s when I fell in love. I mean, there was syrup and whipped cream involved—it’s not that hard to figure out. But it wasn’t long before coffee turned into that bad boyfriend. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, my skin was breaking out and worst of all, I was going a little bit cray cray. Throw in a couple of early 20s’ panic attacks and that zero had to be kicked to the curb.
Fifteen restful years later, my finger hovered over the espresso Rolls Royce on my counter. Clang, clang. I had heard that grinding sound so many times, but never for me! It tasted good, yes. But more than that, I actually lived to see 11 p.m.! In a productive manner! I tried it for a few days, just one cup, at 3 p.m., and saw no sign of the crazies. I couldn’t wait to tell Mr. R:
“It’s amazing. I’m getting so much done. I can make a list of things during the day and then just check them off done, done, done at night. And I can watch movies! Whole movies! Not in pieces, all at once. I never knew how everyone else was doing it. It’s like I unlocked this secret! Have you noticed how alert I am when you come home? And I’m not even shaky! It’s like I have a whole new life after the kids go to bed. And if I fall asleep late, it’s okay, because the next day I can just have more!”
Mr. R looked concerned.
“You’re talking about coffee, right?”
Yes. Coffee! Oh coffee, I’m so sorry I left you for so long. I was young, I was responsible, I was crazy. But I’m back. C u tmw xo!