I can see it all so clearly…it’s an image that haunts me both night and day. The room is filled with anxious faces, staring forward, awaiting the slightest sound. Tension runs from person to person like an electric current. No one moves.. breaths are held in anticipation. Suddenly, from the back, a lone blonde woman slowly arises from her seat…she hesitates, glances around at the frightened, yet grateful faces which glance fleetingly at her…quickly looking away with the hope that she didn’t see. She steps from her seat, moves toward the dais at the front of the room. Her heart beating desperately, her head swimming with hyperventilation…and then she turns. With a quick clearing of her throat, she glances about, and says in a shaking, yet definitive voice… “Hello, my name is Suzy, and I’m a coffeeholic”.
And, admittedly, I am. From the instant that I awake, my soul purpose is to make it to the kitchen, which means traversing a hallway, AND a set of stairs (which turn TWICE mind you) to that gleaming white beacon in the darkness. It’s glass carafe calls to me in the darkness…”I am here…come closer….just fill me and all your troubles will be over”. And like a junkie moving toward his next fix, I follow the call. I fill the blessed machine, and wait with baited breath for that gurgle that signifies that my hit is ready. Staggering, half from sleep, half from a desire that is palpable, toward the kitchen, open the cabinet…and then the selection begins. Which vessel is worthy to carry my blessing today? Cup filled, I bask in the aroma briefly, before allowing the sweet relief to be consumed. Now…now the world can begin.
And as addicted to this dark rich substance as I am, I was wondering recently, is it not only the coffee, but its cup, that I am addicted to? Would the morning ritual be as complete if I were to use…say…a paper cup? A glass? What about the cup makes it what it is?
I am a collector of coffee cups. An odd choice, admittedly, and not one that I believe I consciously made. I have been noticing lately that each time I empty the dishwasher, my cup shelf is getting harder and harder to fill. There simply is no room. So I stopped and thought to myself “I only have a FEW cups, why is there no room???” And if I had so many, enough to overflow the shelf of a double cabinet, why did I always seem to be using the same 2 or 3 cups. An hour or so later, I had the answer.
I began to pull the cups down from the shelf, sitting them on the counter in front of me. I did not think, I simply emptied the cabinet. Once they were lined neatly in front of me, only then did I take the opportunity to look at what I had. I began to sort them by “subject” (have I mentioned the OCD?) All the train cups together. Here is the one from New Hope that William gave me on my 2nd day working there. A bittersweet memory of a starting point, and a time before he stopped being my friend. Ah! and here! My burgundy and gold Pennsylvaniarailroad herald mug.. I remember this mug! I got it at Strasburg railroad on an impromptu day trip. I took the train to the picnic grove and sat for hours watching the trains go back and forth…shooting photographs like a mad woman…what a beautiful day that was. My friend Bill works there now…I miss having him around. My blue train mug that came with the tin of cocoa…the cocoa has never been opened, but the cup is beginning to look worn around the handle. My “29 believe it or not mug” that I got for my birthday…the year Shannon turned 5 and started kindergarten. She’s 18 now. My “yes, I’m 40, now you can quietly go screw yourself” that was given to me at my surprise birthday party…not only signifying a big point age-wise in my life, but also a point where I realized that I had made new friends…for I did not turn 40 in my hometown, but in my NEW hometown in PA. My “happy mother’s day” mug that came with flowers in 1999, when addam had just turned 2. It was a last minute thought on the part of his father, but add was unbelievably proud to toddle toward me with the gift. Addam will be 11 in January…toddling days are over. The black “full blown bat shit crazy” mug that I purchased for many years ago for a person who is no longer in my life (but the mug stands as a reminder of how FAR I have come from that life). The one coffee cup that I brought back from mother’s after she passed away. Not one that I will ever use…but need to have in my cabinet.
And one by one…each cup was touched, revered, and replaced into the cabinet. Seemingly random, but finding some pattern unknown to me. Replaced, realigned, returned to their safe haven. Once complete, it seemed that the very same cups that were in the front before, were still in the front. Others, that need to be removed from the day to day consciousness, were tucked quietly in the back. Memories of happy, and not so happy, times sitting in a cabinet awaiting their turn each day. And once they were all back on the shelf… as I looked over the 40+ cups that sat in front of me.. it occurred to me. Even without coffee in them, my cup certainly runneth over.