November always brings cravings for a peppermint mocha, a treat I haven’t allowed myself since my last November as a student in Texas. Dreadfully homesick and not being able to acclimatize to the 80 degree weather that has never been a reality of my winters, I obliged when an old boyfriend insisted we drink some sugar milk that tasted like Christmas. A weekend spent in Austin revolved around our ability to locate the nearest Starbucks to order our cups (half syrup and yes of course some whipped cream).
Birthdays since college started have been historically not great and as I sit in Zoka on the eve of my 24th birthday, melancholy Seattle music playing while the wind stirs loose the remaining colorful leaves outside I can’t help but laugh to myself. A little over three years ago I sat alone at this exact table, facing the door and seeing each unfamiliar face pass through, wondering how long it would be until I made some friends of my own. But living in this city was good for me. I grew, surrounded by the love and support of an amazing group of humans who sat inside countless coffee shops talking about life and love, laughing and crying. I grew, starting my time here as a scared, lonely student who was looking for permission to be happy and healthy into a young woman who is about to set out on another big adventure for herself. In the last three years I’ve expanded my taste in food and people, I’ve fallen in love, stood up for myself, made and lost friends just to find them again and made some incredible art.
I love this city.
Taking a sip of my coffee and thinking about what the next few weeks have in store for me fills me with the frustratingly complicated mixture of fear and pure excitement. Two more weeks until I get to put my new passport to use and fly over an ocean. Two more weeks until I get to explore a new country hand in hand with the man I love. Two more weeks until I enter into the unknown yet again. No matter how many To-Do lists and articles I read, nothing can really prepare me for this except actually being there. But I’m not the same scared, wide-eyed 20 year-old I was when I moved to Seattle.
“Coffee is a universal language. You can go anywhere in the world and find coffee and the culture that surrounds it.”
The words ring even truer to me today than they did before.
From Boise to Texas to Seattle to that fateful cup that will take me to Denmark.
I’m not sure he knows this, but I fell in love with my clown over a cup of coffee. I was late to meet him and he had ordered some americanos for us and found a little table outside by the street. Knowing my luck with love, I had actively been trying to distance myself emotionally. He started talking about the kind of art he was interested in making and my wall cracked a little bit; I didn’t move my knee away when it accidentally brushed his. He told me about companies that inspired him and I felt myself relaxing into the space he created for us. He spoke quietly about a piece of art he and his father had seen years ago that had really touched him and my heart melted as his voice shook a little reliving the emotional effect this piece had on him. And I was in love. It hit me faster than caffeine ever does and much more calmly. The thought “I’m in love with him” passed through my mind and I sat up a little and drank down some hot coffee to choke down the unexpected swell of emotion.
So when weeks later he turned to me and said “Come to Copenhagen with me”, I knew I would.
Twenty-four. What a strange time in a person’s life. No longer a student, “between families” (as my friend Erin eloquently put it yesterday), somewhat irresponsible yet finally independent. The time has come to leave behind this wonderful city as well as my early twenties. I raise my cup of coffee to you in gratitude.