4 Oct 2011
As some of you know, my completely awesome parents came to see us this past weekend. (And those of you who know my parents know that “completely awesome” is a huge understatement!) They were our first houseguests, and we had a glorious, beautiful, and relaxing time together. We went on lots of adventures, ate some amazing food, drank some great wine, laughed ourselves silly, and smiled till our faces hurt. I’m going to write about some of our adventures soon, but I have to say that I think one of the memories of their trip that I’ll hold closest to my heart is one of the simplest.
The first time Eric and I saw our apartment, before we ever knew we had a shot at getting it, I took one look at the balcony and knew I wanted to drink coffee with my dad out there in the cool breeze, watching the leaves on the trees sway in the wind.
My memories of coffee start with my dad, and my dad is a big part of my deep attachment to what is for me the sweet nectar of the gods. I remember my parents drinking coffee when I was growing up, but I was never too interested in it. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was in college, and it was pretty bad stuff: the slaw they sold in the student center, a plastic can of Folgers…nothing to write home about, just something to warm my fingers while I was writing endless papers and cramming for Russian exams. Then one time when I’d driven home for Thanksgiving, I headed back up to school with a thermos full of my parents’ fresh-brewed coffee. When I ran out, I stopped somewhere along the road and got another cup, and I immediately tasted the difference. I had no idea until then that there was as much pleasure to be found in a well-made cup of coffee as there is to be found in delicious food. It was an awakening.
After that, I always looked forward to drinking coffee with my dad when I went home. Winter or summer, spring or fall, he’d brew us a pot or a French press, and we’d sit outside or in front of the fireplace, talking about whatever was on our minds, catching up on our latest thoughts and ideas, sharing treasured memories. Once I’d been out Christmas shopping with my mom, and when we’d called home with an ETA, I’d told my dad how tired I was. When we got home, I found that he’d whipped out the espresso machine and had a latte waiting for me. I realize this sounds like a coffee commercial, but it is so very real, and a ritual of relaxation began to be born for me. It’s true that I love the taste of coffee, its thick richness, the warm and delicious aroma, and the feel of a coffee cup in my hands, but it goes back to something much deeper for me: family, memories, love. It’s just one tiny example of how something so small and so ubiquitous can carry so much more than its own weight, can become a repository for meaning and memory, can signify so much more than what it appears to be. My daily cup takes me home every morning, to that place of warmth and acceptance and happiness, and rekindles my deep, deep gratefulness: that out of all the people in the world who could have been my parents, I was born to people who could not be more kind, more loving, more hilarious, more fun, more intelligent and thoughtful, or more creative. People whose joy and curiosity are infectious, people who make you feel on a daily basis what a gift it is to be alive.
And of course, new memories are always being made. Going home wouldn’t be the same without enjoying my first cup of the day with my mom in bed, slowly waking up and telling each other about our dreams from the previous night and our plans for the day. Visits wouldn’t be the same without an afternoon stop for a cappuccino, my mom and I straining under the weight of our shopping bags or trying to muster the energy to see a few more galleries at the museum. And this trip wouldn’t have felt right without spending every morning out on the balcony with my parents, the paper, and our coffee. My dad even made it cup by cup for us every morning, which was a real treat. That’s what I’ll remember, and what I’ll miss the most.
We also had a blast visiting all the coffee hot spots around Pasadena, which I’d been waiting to try with them. Dad and I took an afternoon walk to Peet’s for a cup (we live about 5 minutes’ walk from there, thus classifying our apartment as nirvana, or at least within close proximity to it), and Sunday we headed over to Zona Rosa, which couldn’t be any more quaint or comfy. Monday we drove down to Jones Coffee Roasters, a glorious open space full of coffee roasting equipment and Mexican art. I kept whispering to my parents, “This is SO cool!”, which probably takes my own coolness points down a scale, but who cares? When you are faced with amazingness, sometimes you have to acknowledge it! I am happy that now, not only the balcony, but also these sweet places, are marked with memories. Every time I visit them, I will bring my parents with me; every time I enjoy a cup of coffee, I will enjoy it with them.