In a little over six months, I’ll hit the half century mark. When I made my entrance into the world in 1965, the milk man brought the white liquid in glass containers, calls were made on a rotary phone, and if you should be unlucky enough to fall asleep early on the night that Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, or A Charlie Brown Christmas was on, you were out of luck until the following year.
So much has changed since I came into the world. But one thing has remained the same in theory if not always form. Coffee.
As I sit at my desk and take another sip from my big mug, a little bit of milk, three Splenda, I realize that ever since I was 16, I have turned to coffee for comfort and refreshment.
I first started drinking coffee when I had a job answering phones on the weekend at my mother’s real estate office. Back then it was a splash of coffee and a lot of creamer. Going to the coffee maker was a way to stretch my legs and drink something to keep my voice from getting scratchy from saying, “Good afternoon. How can I help you?” all day.
I then started using larger amounts with less and less milk to keep me up during high school midterms, finals, and projects that I had a tendency to keep to the last minute.
Black coffee became my mainstay when I was a young acting student still living at my parents’ house on Long Island. I would get up early, swig a few gulps before taking a 7:00 am train, buy a cup for the ride and another in Penn Station, quickly stirring in my Sweet ‘n Low, and drinking it while I ran for the subway to make class.
When class was over, I would grab another cup for the longer train ride home where instead of getting off at my home station, I would take the train to the end of the line where I was doing a play.
Then came my time living in the city and getting coffee in small cafes. The locations and the company I kept changed as I went from being a shy struggling actor to a more confident woman who traded the dream of the stage for an office job and a little financial security.
No longer able to drink my coffee black anymore, I started adding a little milk. As my options for sweeteners grew, I went from the pink package, to the blue package, to my current favorite, the yellow package.
In the 90s, flavored coffee became the rage, and I enjoyed many cups and different flavors with the man who was first my boyfriend, then my husband.
Joe and I made it a hobby to try different blends and flavored coffees throughout Manhattan. We would take long walks and find little speciality coffee shops or just find a little dive diner and sit at the counter and drink just plain old coffee and talk politics or plans for the future.
A few years after we got married, we decided to go full hog and start grinding our own beans and brewing our own coffee. Joe really became a home brewmaster and I started to enjoy cups of coffee in the quiet of our apartment. Paying bills or tackling a big project became a bit more bearable if Joe and I had a cup of coffee to share together.
Now that we live in suburbia, our one nod to our past life in the city is our coffee.
All three of our kids have been accustomed to hearing the whir of the coffee grinder since they were in utero. And each one of their first outings was to a Starbucks.
Coffee is the glue that has kept our marriage together these past 22 years. Nothing has ever been so bad between Joe and I that a conversation over a cup of coffee can’t make it better.
What would I do as a mom without a cup of coffee to keep me up or to share with a fellow mom?
I don’t think I’ve ever written an article or blog post without a cup at my side, sometimes hot, more often cold from sitting and waiting for the words to magically appear on my computer screen.
My life has taken many twists and turns during these nearly 50 years. I’ve experienced much joy and some significant sorrow, yet through it all a simple cup of coffee has been my one touchstone. A daily reminder that whatever else may be right or wrong in my life I can be grateful that I can hold my cup of coffee, take a sip, and know that life will go on.
This piece was originally published on the Dishwasher, October 2013, under the title, Spilling the Beans. This version has been slightly edited.
Janine Huldie says
Most definitely can say that, I am ever so grateful and happy for coffee here daily, as well! 😉
Janine Huldie recently posted…I Write, Therefore I Am
Kathy Radigan says
That is why we are friends! xo
Andrea Brovetto says
Love your post Kathy! I have learned to enjoy coffee and Dad and I used to enjoy drinking expresso more for the making of it then drinking it. Love you lots!
Now that’s a friendship! I love how you told this story. I’ll raise a cup of Coke Zero in a coffee cup to mask my alternate morning caffeine addiction to you!
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I’ve had a love for coffee since I was 5. Once in a while, my mom would let me drink it with 1/2 coffee and 1/2 milk. Since my 20’s, I drink it black. I love it so much, it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. And my favorite sound…My Keurig machine brewing that first cup of the day. Cheers Kathy! xo
Myke Todd says
I was a big fan of coffee, until I stopped drinking alcohol. Once that happened, the elixir of life was no longer mandatory; the antidote no longer relevant. After that, if just smelled like burned peanuts.
Myke Todd recently posted…The Girl in the Swing
Coffee..is there anything it CAN’T do?
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This was so endearing, Kathy. And I loved the title you chose! It seems you do have a deep love affair with ‘Joe’, in more ways than one. ;-)))
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Lisa Weinstein says
I started drinking coffee when I lived in Queens. I’d park at the Bayside train station and hop into the 7-11 for coffee with hazel nut flavored milk to get me through the LIRR ride into the city. Several years ago Bob and I switched to decaf, but we still both until coffee immensely! It is truly a comfort drink!
Kathy Radigan says
It really is a comfort drink. Joe and I went through a huge hazelnut coffee phase in our life!!
Susan Williams says
My husband roasts our beans now.
Our love, and our coffee, runs deep.
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I loved reading this! In many ways it parallels my life with coffee. I’m going to go get me a cup right now!
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Kathy Radigan says
It really is a nice constant isn’t it?
Yvonne Ransel says
My parents drank a pot of real coffee every nite before bed! My mom would make me “coffee milk” Hot steaming milk with a touch of coffee and sugar. Most mornings in my hs days, she would make me a coffee eggnog – Coffee milk with a beaten egg for protein! I would chug it on my way to catch the bus
Kathy Radigan says
Ynonne it’s funny that you say that because I didn’t grow up with coffee milk, but my parents would make it for my kids!! Love that your mom would make it an eggnog for a quick breakfast!!
Sharon Greenthal says
Oh how I love my coffee…my father taught me to drink it with cream, no sugar, and that’s how I still drink it. My day begins with a cup or nothing will go right!
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Kathy Radigan says
There is nothing like cream in coffee!! Major yum!
Cathy Chester says
I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 40 – can you believe that? I think I’m making up for lost time. But in the 16 years since I’ve come a long way. Different coffees, grinding them and now using the K cups for my Keurig. I’m the only coffee drinker in the house so it doesn’t pay to make a pot.
I love that you wrote an entire post about this, something so simple that does keep us going and going and going!
Cathy Chester recently posted…Two Time Pulitzer Prize Winner David McCullough Loves His Wife, Family, History And He’s a Really Nice Guy
It’s the little things that give our days joy, is it not? I so look forward to my intimate moment with my morning cup-o-joe. All is right in the world if I can sip and savor.
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