Eight years old, nine, ten. Sunday morning eggs and bacon. The bewitching sputter-gurgle-pop of Mom and Dad’s coffee brewing on the counter. On a bold day, you might ask for a little bit of coffee milk. You’d tip the cup to your mouth with a pinkie aloft, because who was to say you wouldn’t turn out to be that kind of woman. You could be any kind of woman.
Seventeen, eighteen. Perched on a metal stool at the off-campus coffee house pretending to study. Wishing you’d worn a different skirt, but aware that being in the right place at the right age is most of the battle. Pretending it’s haphazard that your head is cocked just so. Eyeing The Boy.
Next term. Same stool. Different boy.
Minutes later. Those first few years working in New York City. Stopping at Starbucks every morning for a Venti instead of breakfast. As the elevator doors open onto your floor, wearing that plastic cup of coffee with the tall green straw like a pair of Jimmy Choos. Feeling unstoppable with it, naked without it.
Another job, another industry, another Starbucks.
The morning after the first night that the baby woke up to feed every hour. And the morning after that, when it happened again. Wondering whether you’d made the biggest, most irreparable mistake of your life. Furious that nobody warned you. Realizing the safety net between you and your own choices had vanished, never to return.
Having amnesia. Doing it all again.
And here you are. Kids in school. Trying to write at the local coffee place. Wishing the collective buzz would seep into your pages. Knowing you may pack up and walk away with only the strong smell of burr-ground beans that lingers in your sweater, in your hair, inside your purse.
A whole life could flash by like this. Jobs, crushes, ambitions — they come and go. For better or worse, the coffee remains, flowing like a river through it all.