You know that feeling of excitement you get when the month of September strikes, and Pumpkin Spice everything finally comes out, and all you can do is sigh in sweet relief because that beautiful nectar of the gods is about to touch your lips? And then your taste buds wake up to the fact that school is starting again and the fact that another year of your life is coming to a close gets washed away because the only thought in your head at that specific moment is: “Hell frickin’ yes. I’ve waited so long. TYBG.” And the smooth warm coffee travels down your throat and almost gives you a sense of purpose for about .2 seconds? Well, that’s kind of how I feel about regular coffee. Which is why I have to drink it all of the time.

Aside from the fact that I get caffeine withdrawal headaches because I’ve cultivated a dependency on this gnarly liquid, I drink coffee because I like the taste. It’s usually a hit or a miss for people, but when my mom let me taste a tiny sip of this stuff so I could feel like a “big girl” when I was about seven, it hit me like the smell of weed in East Quad. I just wanted to keep tasting it forever. And when I finally turned 14, I was allowed to drink it whenever I pleased.

So I did what any rational teenage girl would do and I decided to drink it more or less whenever I was able to. I drank it when I woke up. I drank it during school (because let’s face it, I wouldn’t have survived that hell hole without something altering my perspective somehow). And I drank it when I would hang out with my friends. Coffee wasn’t always invited to hang out, but with a lack of things to do and its availability at anytime and anywhere, it found its way into the picture 10 times out of 10.

It’s because coffee is so universal. It works as an alarm clock. It provides motivation to do homework, to study or to just be a human being. It’s an excuse for a first date. It’s a conversation starter. Drinking it can be an act of relaxation or stimulation. And you can drink it any way you want: black, with sugar and cream, cold, hot, in the form of a slurpee. Do you like chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut? Throw that shit in there and I promise you it will work out. It will still taste wonderful.

When I was in the primary stage of my addiction I liked my coffee sweetened with French Vanilla Coffee Mate *insert heart eyes emoji here* but as I’ve grown in to the better version of myself, I prefer it almost black. I don’t need anything extravagant. I just need it simple, like my personality. And I don’t mean that in a boring way. I’m far from boring — or at least I would hope so — I mean it in an I-genuinely-enjoy-the-smaller-things-in-life kind of way.

But then there’s the absolute best cup of coffee you could ever gift yourself with: diner coffee. You know what I’m talking about. It’s 2 in the morning and under circumstances you can’t explain you’re sitting in that 24-hour rinky-dink diner that’s only known by its acronym. You’ve been here far too many times to count and across from you is a person who you don’t exactly mind sharing every piece of nonsense in your brain with.

The walls are permanently stained yellow because they haven’t been re-painted since before smoking in a restaurant was banned in every state. The same waitress who you’ve seen each time you walk in is pouring you your cup of sanity. She was there before you could drive, before you went away to school, before you even became your own person. You ask her how her kids have been. “How’s your husband?” you say. She says “Oh you know, same as always.” You both share a laugh because you know exactly what she means. You’ve shared a few cups of the same coffee she pours for other people because you happened to be there on her a break a few times. You make sure that even though the coffee is only $1.06, you tip her 4 dollars or more because her kindness is genuine and she always refills your cup.

She refills it so frequently that after two hours of being completely immersed in this conversation about how life has been changing with your friend, you notice your hand is shaking. You’ve probably had more than four cups now and you’re just now realizing it. But, you don’t mind.

See, to even be in this circumstance you have to be on some sort of break from real life. Whether that be a holiday break, summer or even nothing more than a weekend, you’re just sitting on that pleather seat not worrying about anything else. The coffee aroma wraps you like a blanket and you’re living life how it was meant to be lived: leisurely. Enjoying every sip that prevents unnecessary meaningless word vomit while creating some sort of punctuality to every one of your syllables. Enjoying your friend’s company. Enjoying the familiarity of everything around you. And then the nostalgia hits you.

And all of these events, all of these people I’ve encountered out of pure chance in my life are shoved into the front of brain just by one sip of that plain black diner coffee.

It tastes bitter, reminding me of how I felt the night everything fell apart and I sat in my booth for hours. It feels hot, reminding me of the sticky summer nights I spent on the wire chairs outside. It gives me tranquility, reminding me of the days I’ve witnessed the sunrise through the windows. It goes down smooth, reminding me of things that don’t and of the people who never were.

The people who had sharp edges like the table at booth number 3. After countless conversations and after countless cups of boiling hot coffee, I watched their edges melt. And I melted too. I melted into that pleather seat. I melted into those people. I melted into my cup of sheer sanctuary.

Maybe I am too fascinated with coffee. Maybe it’s just an utter coincidence that a lot of my favorite people have been poured out of a pot. Maybe I just sound crazy placing this much emphasis on a beverage. Maybe this is all because I haven’t had enough coffee today.

Here’s the thing, I tend to get complacent without my fix of caffeine. Irritable. Tired. I start melting into the wrong places, and everything I do is slightly off. I can’t empathize with people who don’t drink it all of the time. It helps me function as a normal human being in society. It’s become a personality trait of mine. Hey, I’m Selena. I drink so much coffee that I have self-induced insomnia now, but it’s fine because I can drink more coffee to help with that issue. If you don’t drink coffee, I don’t know what we’ll do together because one-hundred percent of the time I will want to be drinking coffee or doing something that involves getting coffee and talking about what molded you into the human being you have become.

When I’m having a bad day, I can drink some coffee about it and it will instantly be better. Failed that test? Drank some coffee about it. Got three hours of sleep? Drank some coffee about it. The boy I’m in love with kissed my best friend? Drank a lot of coffee about it. Needed to finish a paper? Drank some coffee about it. Needed to finish this article? I am currently drinking coffee about it.

Coffee is my ideal go-to for anything if you haven’t been able to tell. And I think that’s how it always will be. I will encounter more lovely humans through the steam that floats off a fresh cup. My future apartment will always smell like coffee. I will have the best coffee mug collection a person could ever lay their eyes on because besides wanting a dog, having a great coffee mug collection is my only goal in life.

So if I’m ever mean to you, I haven’t had my coffee yet. If I’m ever sad, I haven’t had my coffee yet. If I’m annoyed, tired, quiet or dull, I haven’t had my coffee yet. If I have no interest in our conversation, it’s because I’m thinking about getting some more coffee. And I’m not trying to go to Starbucks for some venti soy macchiato fufu lame shit, I just need a cup of black coffee. And I need a lot of it.

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