I’ve been drinking coffee longer than I can remember. I don’t say that to brag—I really can’t remember exactly when I started drinking coffee. If I had to guess, I was probably three years old.
Back then, I lived in the Philippines with my mom and extended family. My grandparents lived there too, and I spent every morning with my grandma. We all called her Mama.
Every morning, Mama would stir a few spoons of freeze-dried Folgers into her cup of hot water, topped with powdered creamer and a few spoons of sugar. She’d bring out a roll of pan de sal and lay it on a platito, periodically dipping the roll into her coffee before taking a bite and washing it down with a slow sip.
I adored Mama and loved to spend mornings with her, after my mom had already left for work and before I went to nursery. I wanted to be a part of her morning as she was mine, and I started sneaking sips of this glorious kape that she drank every morning without fail. Eventually, she caught on, scolding me for drinking something for grown-ups, while stirring me a cup of my own. This was our special routine every morning until my mom and I moved to the US.
I think of my Mama every morning as I make my own brew; she continues to be a part of my morning to this day. Except these days, I make the coffee for both us.
In the best of times, I feel invincible. I am planted firmly into the earth, my roots extending warm embrace after warm embrace.
In the best of times, I am fearless. I ride the waters in flow, with the sun and the moon, following my charted course.
In the best of times, time belongs to me. I manipulate it as I choose, but always out of honor and never out of spite. The ticking of the clock hastens the hum of my heart.
But in the worst of times, I feel frail. Pieces of me flutter and chip away in hurried gusts. I am wrecked. I am reckless.
And in the worst of times, I am not my own friend. To her, I whisper words that wash away those parts that glimmer in the sun.
Still, in the worst of times, my humanity remains. Those parts that ache and bleed stubbornly and with relentless, unnerving awareness.
And through those times, I realize the irony of choice and the sting of circumstance buried in my beautiful bones. Though they have broken, they are strong. They carry me through the next step.
Wake up. Skim emails. Get out of bed. Greet cat. Feed cat. Brush teeth. Wash face. Start the kettle. Scoop the litter box. Sweep the floor. Pour the coffee. Turn on the computer. Respond to emails. Take a yoga break. Attend meetings. Catch up on news. Respond to emails. Make lunch. Attend meetings. Respond to emails. Respond to emails. Respond to emails. Make dinner. Respond to emails. Play with cat. Feed cat. Shower. Brush teeth. Skim emails. Go to bed.