Coffee has a specific origin. But the same cannot always be said of the people that enjoy it. People come from multiple territories, and call multiple territories “home.” From the wintery winds of Nebraska to the mountains of the Ozarks or the chill breeze of Maine, every place we live we call our home. Like all good homes, we make friends. We cause conflict. We stir up mischief. And every well-brewed coffee leads to the same—new stories, new friends, and definitely new adventures.
I am reconnecting with an old friend. Her house smells like randomness and coffee.
I cautiously hold one mug over the other, attempting to prevent the liquid from frothing into my cut-up poetry. Sandra calmly sips her single-brewed beverage. There is a shot of caffeine for every swig I take. There is a delicate hum to the click of her glass. She does not have my dedication—addiction—to coffee. In the clutter, now is the opportune moment for the blonde-bellied cat. She darts over my pile of paper and hides under the cushion of the closest Victorian armchair. Warming in the sliver of sunlight peaking in from the drapes, the cat turns away from me. Even I could not reprimand her.
But this chair was a mere stepping stool. The windowsill was the same width and twice the cat’s length. It became her hunting ground. She glided onto the wide, white sill and rubbed her fur against the warm glass. Smiling at her most frequent tenant, my hostess sorted through old books. A classic, full-bodied blend by her side, the coffee filled a large mug to last her through her morning project. The novels comprised half of her original collection. The other half let go in lost romantic inclinations. Yet, this chapter in her life would fill her shelves with less pictures and more clutter, souvenirs from her daughter’s Californian university years.
Books have are stacked between half-knitted scarves and unhung photography. They are used as pedestals for the Victorian styled porcelain dolls. They become the dividers of various floor-based projects. Their pages permeated by the smell of warm hands and coffee grounds. I relax on a long, russet leather couch. Yarn entwined with even more colorful ribbon winds around the cushions, armrests, and pillow mountains. I am surrounded by knitting needles and chocolate kisses, each its own reminder of an unfinished story or a half-started conversation.
An Iowan woman brushes past the red velvet curtain carrying two steaming mugs. Christmas sparks tradition swapping, with family recipes getting passed down to friends. The coffee even tastes like Christmas. It has cinnamon spice mixed with the grounds. Yet, two hours and four cups of the cinnamon coffee later, a trade has yet to be made. Visitors interrupt this sanctuary throughout the holiday season. New Year’s sales shock guests at Sandra’s eighty percent markdowns. My sister toys with the cat, which cannot tell if my sister genuinely thinks this is fun or if she understands the torture. The piles get sorted into gift bags, and her house remains constantly busy.
Life always adds more than you bargain for. She ushers me one last cup of coffee, before I go. It demands the unfinished conversation. The sip that breaks someone’s train of thought, giving the other person the perfect opportunity to board—the thought made more important for the pause.
We have conversations perpetually unfinished—meant to be left in unsorted photographs, half-knitted scarves, and fashion magazine cut ups. They are left amongst the piles of living in the living room & littering the of furniture. Daylight wanes from the South window. The cat moves closer to the brick fireplace. Soon, the chair is covered in pieces of fabric and photographs—caught again in the cycle of constant reorganization.
The tile brick foyer leads to cold winter air, and I drive the five hundred miles North to University. Now, a cheaper roast of coffee brews behind me. I breathe its fumes, and smile. The roast of many lives & homes & friends I carry inside. The best coffees are not always labeled Organic, Fair Trade, or Starbucks. Coffee is best shared. I know wherever I go, there will be a fresh pot of coffee and a conversation waiting to continue.