September 29, 2010

National Coffee Day

That we choose specific days to highlight aspects of our life which are omnipresent is, of course, more than a little odd. One might be Thankful for the bountiful harvest (or at least the plethora of grocery stores) any day, for example. And why, exactly, should people limit themselves to Halloween when it comes to fanciful costumes? I want to dress like Han Solo every day, dammit.

This is how I feel about national coffee day. Apparently, today is that day. I'm not sure who started it. Neither am I sure when, or why. Frankly, odd as it may sound, I don't much care. My initial plan was to craft something of a love letter to coffee, my magnum opus, my protest against mortality, a piece of lyrical alchemy which might live and be loved forever.

There are two reasons why that isn't going to happen. First of all, I'm not entirely sure I'm capable of writing something quite like what I had in mind. It's one thing to theorize about crafting a masterpiece; but it's another thing altogether to actually create one. But more importantly than that, it would seem disingenuous. The thing I enjoy most about this blog is that it allows me infinite creative freedom. I don't plan anything, frankly. Truth be told, I don't really know what I'm going to write, even when I'm already typing. I go, and end up wherever I will. Thus to sit, intent on writing anything like an epic treatise, would seem horribly contrived.

It is also worth noting that every day is "coffee day" to me. As much as this may come across as sarcasm, it isn't. Nor is it a tongue in cheek comment on caffeine dependence. I mean that, quite honestly, coffee is an integral part of my day, every day.

I wake up. If I'm working out in the morning, I have coffee, and nothing else. If I'm mauling myself later, I have coffee, two eggs and toast. I have another cup on campus, or at work, mid morning. Then another around lunch, and another mid afternoon. Sometimes, if I'm feeling indulgent, I'll drink another in the evening. That sounds like a lot -- and it is. I never claimed to be good at moderation. It's a rather frightening concept to me.

But the point here goes well beyond my liking the taste of coffee, or the minor buzz it gives me. Coffee, in a very real way, shaped who I am. Working in and around a coffee bar chiseled away my shy exterior, revealing the relentless extrovert which, to that point, had been hidden. Quite literally, most of the friends I've made post high school I met, in one way or another, over coffee.

I am not alone in this. Coffee bars are places of study, of conversation, of flirting and sulking. They are places of art and science, work and play. They are a unique place which melds apparently opposed concepts to form a strangely coherent whole. And the drink itself, central to the whole experience, is the most consumed beverage (not counting plain water) on earth. It is a daily ritual for, quite literally, the majority of people on this planet.

If it feels like I'm using grandiose terminology, know that I've not come close to hyperbole. Which is, perhaps, why even entertaining the idea of writing "the" coffee article was always foolish. Something so ubiquitous is difficult to encapsulate with words, no matter how good one might be with them. And so, despite the urge to keep writing, I'm going to stop now. There's infinitely more to say, but nothing to add.

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