The warmth touches the tip of your tongue before sliding down your throat, leaving a smooth track pooling in your chest. From there it spreads across your rib cage, draping each bone in foamy liquid that brings comfort as much as it does a reprieve from the draft of the ever-opening and closing door. Even though it’s spring, it’s still winter. And, because it’s also Monday, a 20oz. cup of caffeine to replenish my depleting stream is necessary. Each sip of sweet earth makes me smile and really appreciate where I am, at this moment in time, in this coffee shop, surrounded by these strangers, but alone with my thoughts.
“It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a café au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write.” — Ernest Hemingway
First thing you should know, before I reveal this magical location that produces such delectable and comforting coffee, is that no, I am not Hemingway, nor am I sitting in a Parisian café. Second, Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite books. So, it’s natural that a coffee shop with an Alice in Wonderland theme, eclectic artwork, bright colors, and a myriad of treats and drinks would draw me in immediately and make me feel more at home in this perturbing city. Third, I don’t have a blood stream. I have a caffeine stream, which requires a daily cup of coffee to keep my body functioning as normal. (But I don’t have a problem, I swear. I have it completely under control… Maybe…) And finally, the place where I sit is the White Rabbit Café and Patisserie; the best place where an intermittently unhappy and contemplative person can go to escape from his or her own confining world; which, when you think about it, can feel like going down your own personal rabbit hole into a place of unique calm and comfort only for you.
“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” — Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes
Things can be pretty bad sometimes. Try being a college student with no consistent income, no idea of what she wants to do, and no clue as to where she belongs, just trying to get through her spring semester with good grades, completing all her assignments and obligations, so she can finally get a good night’s sleep, because she hasn’t slept well in ages being stressed about money and the future and just wanting to curl up into a ball and read a book, never going out or interacting with anyone and ignoring the fact that I have no idea who I am or what I’m meant to be doing (104 words). Okay…Okay…I’ll stop complaining.
Coffee lets me take a step out of my life and stop to smell the freshly brewed grounds. It’s my part of the day where I can really appreciate all the good aspects of my life: family, friends, health, place, abilities, dreams, and memories. And, if I’m lucky, I may pass the nervous effects and not become even more stressed, managing to lessen my workload for a couple days, giving me a pseudo-confidence in the belief that I uncover the secrets to life while brooding over each cup of liquid vitality.
You’d think that I’d have discovered at least one long-lost secret by now, but life never ceases to surprise me. I think that’s why I appreciate my cup of coffee more as I get older and the more that everything changes: because of the comfort I get from its vanilla-flavored warmth.