Normally, I am a very moderate person. I can summon the willpower to say "no" to another drink, to a dessert I do not need, to a pair of shoes on sale. And when I am pregnant, I can turn away from a morning cup of coffee with little distress.
But once that baby is born, all bets are off. Coffee calls to me, a siren song of warm, aromatic comfort that brings to mind nothing less wonderful than a quiet, sunny Saturday breakfast in fuzzy slippers. Some mornings at work, I have to distract myself with mindless inbox cleaning simply so I will not get up, head downstairs, and fill my cup for a third time within an hour.
Recently, coffee has been coming at me from all angles, taunting me into drinking far more caffeine than a human should consume in a day. First, the Christmas season brings with it irresistible, frothy, chocolate-y confections from coffee chains, waving down from billboards in their whipped-cream splendor. They are more dessert than coffee, true, but it is that bitter taste of espresso amidst the chocolate that forces me to fork over five dollars without hesitation.
Second, a recent bit of historical education on the Civil War built a kinship between me and those soldiers, who were apparently addicted to coffee. So intent were they on getting their fix that they ground their beans using filthy socks and the butt of their rifles, and they were known to hastily chew coffee beans if they were heading into battle and did not have time to brew. I suppose when your choice is between coffee and water from some suspect source, dirty-sock coffee is the way to go.
And finally, tomorrow would have been my grandma's 82nd birthday, a luminous, gracious woman who always had a pot of coffee on, and sometimes two. It was a rare moment at her house when she did not have a cup nearby, and for me, coffee-drinking and the contentment it brings is synonymous with the feeling that all is well and that Grandma is just around the corner, finding extra blankets or frosting up some cinnamon rolls.
Coffee seems to catch memories in its steam. It transcends time and geography and situation, settling comfortably in bustling cafes and Civil War camps and grandmas' kitchens, and sometimes when I clutch my warm mug, I can sense the kindred spirits holding their own cups, mulling over their lives and pasts alongside me. It is the addiction I cannot shake, but I think I am in good company.