I have given up coffee for a while for Lent. I have no desire to discuss religion, I am not even that religious. But I do have a spiritual side, that makes me give up coffee. Coffee is given up because I know I can, and because it is something that I remember I have given up every day. Thus my relationship with coffee is more than just reaching for a cup first thing in the morning, it is more layered and involved.
My mother actually used to give me coffee in the morning when I was a little girl. Mine had milk, and hers was black. I cannot drink black coffee even to this day it makes me jumpy. When I was a teenager, I drank it because the boy I had a crush on at the time did, coffee with milk–a lot of it–and sugar–a lot of it too. I stopped after I didn’t like the boy anymore. I picked it up again when I was in college, because boys always bought coffee for me when we would sit in the cafeteria to be philosophical like you think you are when you are in college.
I never made a decision to have a cup of coffee because I wanted it on my own, just had a desire for it until I was out of college. It was then I would end up in a cafe to have coffee. I liked it at that point large, with half and half and a ton of sugar. Once in a Starbucks, someone said I liked a little coffee with my cream and sugar. There is a dear cafe in Brooklyn called The Tea Lounge, that made Turkish lattes…I bow to that greatness. I drank coffee at this point more as not a social thing, but something I did while writing. Coffee meant my solitude.
The decision to give it up was made because I just felt like it seemed like something to give up, to build character. To say I can do this. I cannot remember really giving anything up when I was in Catholic school, but this decision was made as an adult and I have stuck to it. One torturous year, I was drinking coffee with multiple shots of espresso, lost track of Lent and had a headache for the whole of it. To be clear, I do not give up caffeine, just coffee and coffee-flavored things. But not even cups and cups of black tea could soothe the headache I had for the entire of Lent.
This year was not so bad, I was very disciplined. I am not a cheater, if I say I am not going to do something I don’t. I will not waver in my decision, I am very faithful…There have been some points where I just drank water because any thought of another tea or chai made me almost nauseous.
My chosen cup tomorrow, I have not decided yet. There will likely be two. Half and half has been replaced with soy milk–which I learned how to say in French during my last trip to Paris–and I might add a flavored syrup but no sugar. I like simple cafe au laits for the most point, no weird concoctions. Half the time I even choose decaf. I like the flavor of coffee, the mug or take-away cup held between my hands warm, the warm fluid savored on my tongue for its every nuance and its warming me inside as it goes down. In the summer, I can be prone to milky iced coffee if it is really hot, then I like its cool sensation best on my tongue.
Knowing I give up coffee for 46 days every year (it looks so little when I type it, but feels so big when I do it), makes every bit I have over the rest of the year feel precious and almost exotic. I will hopefully be sipping a cup tomorrow, and not even feel like I missed a day…
photo by f dot leonora