the end of an affair… and its rebeginning
I was twenty years old when I fell head-over-heels in love… The kind of ‘in love’ that leaves one wanting more, brings one to feelings of fullness and leads one to a state of oblivion as to the hours passing while one sits awake, feeling all amazing-like inside, night after night.
Then, exactly 38 days ago, I decided to stop drinking coffee.
In just one moment’s time, with one swift decision, I ended my eleven year affair with Starbucks.
It was heartbreaking. I wanted to weep. I wanted to write an apology letter to Starbucks explaining that it wasn’t THEM, but that it was ME… that I needed some space… that I wanted to rediscover my identity… that things had moved too fast and that I wondered if we should just be friends and not lovers. I poised myself for defense and fought my own silent objection “…everyone knows that no one goes from being lovers to just being friends.”
The first few days were easy. I felt empowered by my ability to live without the comfort of vanilla-infused coffee brewing in my coffee pot and then resting in a shiny, beautiful cherry-red and gold embellished Christmas cup, warming my hands, as together we watched White Christmas, like coffee and I had done every December since I’d purchased my home. I was impressed with my ability to stay committed to my quest of coffee-free-hood and further propelled myself to success by focusing on Howard Shultz’s action statement: “ONWARD!” I started drinking tea, devoting an entire countertop canister to its storage and reminded myself of other joy-filled, coffee-less times in my life, while planning what I might do with all the money I was going to save as a result of my new life.
Halfway into week two of “my new life”, I felt miserable. I changed the route I took to work and slowly drove by Starbucks locations… gazing into the windows, trying to catch glimpses of joy… or even some kind of miraculous coffee aroma that might make it past both their storefront and my tightly shut car windows in order to waft within smelling-distance of my gigantic nose. I made an exceeding number of offers to brew fresh coffee for my husband or any of our guests and then lingered over the maker each time a pot brewed, deeply breathing, so as to take in as much of the brew as possible. I held my French Press and fought imaginary tears as the memories of our time together washed over me. I consumed tea with increasing fervor – sometimes as many as four or five cups per day.
By the end of week three, I resented tea. I hated its pallor and wanted to recommend a sunless tanner to every cup I poured. I turned to chocolate with reckless abandon, trying to absolve my sorrows. I continued to count the days that had passed since the end of my & coffee’s relationship, and hoped that coffee was feeling as miserably as me. I stared at anything that was dark brown in color and started reconsidering my primarily black wardrobe… cosidering a shift to chocolate brown, instead. I contemplated a trip to NYC just to relive the joy of my discovery, the first time I visited, that a Starbucks location seemingly sits on nearly every city block, then realized it would be sheer torture to walk past that many stores, giving each one the silent treatment.
Then, on day 35, I woke up and realized that I had made a HUGE mistake. I didn’t WANT to live without coffee. I didn’t want to live without Starbucks and its magical mood-solving music, take-away my troubles atmosphere, friendly baristas and indescribable cups of comfort. I barely made it to work, trying to brush aside the range of emotions within me. I tried to get through my morning, all the while feeling the urgency to repair our relationship.
By 2:15 pm, I found myself in front of a Starbucks barista. I held my yogurt parfait in my hand and then heard myself say “… and can I get a Triple, Grande, Nonfat, Nofoam Latte?” The barista smiled, I paid and within five minutes, the world was right again, as I held my cup of pure, luxurious amazement. I savored every sip; noting the rich, deep flavor. I took in the scenes at surrounding tables with great delight, pretended I knew the songs playing overhead and spent the next 2.5 hours doing the same thing that can drive me batty every day at work… only it seemed like the easiest thing in the world to do.
All because of a cup of coffee… at a Starbucks.