This coffee tastes bad. I haven’t had a good cup of coffee in about four days and it’s making me irate. Coffee is a harbinger of my day; for those with a literary bent, think of it as foreshadowing. A good cup relaxes and invigorates concurrently, serenely transporting me to some scenic vista of taste while awaking my groggy faculties to the tasks ahead. A bad cup embitters me, hardens my heart like Pharaoh in the Bible, and otherwise makes me a shit to be around. Thus, it is not only in my best interests, but in the interests of all within my orbit that my morning cup be transformative — utopia in a mug. Unfortunately, that is not the case this morning, or the four mornings which have preceded it: coffee has been the first casualty of the move.
My mother means well, she really does… both my parents do. They have opened their doors to us generously during the lacuna in our move, letting us stack sundry cubes and suitcases in the guest room, and providing us with room and board. Ostensibly, they have done all of this for free, but there is a heavy psychic toll that accompanies a week long stay as an adult in your childhood home, and for the most part, I have been willing to pay that price. I have absorbed countless non-ironic hours of Fox News and listened to my father’s right wing conspiracy theories. I have eaten enough weapons-grade supermarket meat to permanently impact my colon. When my parents continue to say New Orleenz, I smile dutifully and resist the temptation to correct, and I never lose my temper even when my mother asks me if voodoo is still popular “down there.” But I draw the line at coffee. One more day of suck-tastic coffee and this tenuous peace is going to be torn asunder.
It doesn’t have to be this way, either. One of the first things I did upon arrival is dig through the box marked “kitchen” to produce a vacuum-sealed jar of Café du Monde French Roast (chicory of course). It is still sitting there dutifully, next to the coffee maker, ignored. If you are wondering, at this point, why I just don’t make my own damn coffee, it must be noted that my mother is one of those perpetual early risers that already has the coffee pot set for the next morning’s offerings sometime around dinner the previous night. By the time I awaken, the diaphanous coffee is already staring at me weakly.
My parents like weak coffee — this is the crux of the brewing storm — which is almost impossible to understand given their respective backgrounds. My mother is of southern Italian descent, mostly Sicilian, and grew up in a house were an espresso pot routinely occupied the small back burner of the electric stovetop. My father served in the US Marines in Vietnam and spent his post service life working in construction. These are not irresolute people. Yet somehow, their coffee proclivities are phasers set to stun, a jittery Richard Simmons of low-impact bean that lacks the most basic palliative effects associated with coffee.
Of course, this is a petty complaint, a first world problem in the truest sense, and it’s not even the coffee I am missing as much as the comfort I associate with it. When your life is overturned like furniture in a burglarized house, it is amazing how you cling to the smallest comforts to remind you of normalcy. I imagine it as the Hershey bars that US soldiers coveted during WWII, or the small tokens exiles and refugees everywhere cling to: some soil, a faded photograph, or a bottle of hot sauce.
In a week’s time, I will be able to have all the chicory coffee I want. I will even be able to greedily dip beignets in the coffee, choking on the powdered sugar that I somehow always manage to inhale like Pablo Escobar. In a week’s time, I will be surrounded by four new and uncertain walls, with the only things to tether me to everything I’ve ever known packed tightly into a blue roller-board. In a week’s time… I will do what I have to do in a week’s time. But today, I will savor every last drop of the coffee placed before me.