Last week I was sitting in the library and my phone buzzed. It was a text from Hann. Several texts, actually. This is what they said:
Sept. 24, 11:13am: Found a new coffee cart.
Sept. 24, 11:13am: Vanilla-hazelnut flavor
Sept. 24, 11:14am: Styrofoam cups which isn’t my favorite aesthetic
Sept. 24, 11:14am: But this shit is good
I read the texts and smiled. Then I sent this back: Ya know, I think I could write a memoir about your transformation into a coffee drinker. I have that much detail.
And it’s true. I’ve been getting texts like this for months now. I could have a whole chapter about Hann’s preference for plastic over Styrofoam cups. I can see it now; Chapter Three: The Issue of Aesthetic. I realized just how mundane this topic was, but I was loving the conversation.
I still remember the moment it all began, (mostly because I had no fucking idea how much more I was going to hear on the subject for the next six months at the time). Hann and I were having one of our regular Sunday-Night-Study-Abroad-Facetime sessions, sitting in our beds in our respective countries, pretending those beds were about 18 inches apart. (They are now. It’s not as fun as we thought it’d be.) At the time I was drinking a lot of tea, because that’s what the Irish did. All of a sudden Hannah’s face lit up on my little iPhone screen.
“Oh yeah, Jules, I’ve been drinking coffee here! It’s like, a little bit of espresso and then a shit ton of cream, but it’s really good. I like it. I think I like coffee now.”
I remember being happy for her. We’d been exhausted college students for two and a half years at that point, and were living in the hell of needing some sort of caffeine but also being total wimps about coffee. We considered just hooking up an IV to get it into our systems in the morning, but I really don’t like needles so that didn’t work out.
Hann had been on a mission to like coffee for probably a year. We’d stop by the Dunkin’ Donuts on campus on a Sunday, and as we walked away she’d take her first sip, grimace, and say something along the lines of, “oof, yup, definitely still haven’t gotten my order right.” Sometimes it was too bitter, sometimes it was a punch in the face of caramel swirl. The girl couldn’t win.
Now we’re back in America, and Hannah is officially a coffee drinker. Holy shit, is she a coffee drinker. Her summer essentially consisted of three activities: marathon bike rides, putting sunscreen on my shoulders at the beach, and going to this place in Newmarket to get an iced coffee. We took our fair share of road trips this summer all over New Hampshire, and we probably had this conversation before each one.
Hann: “Hey Jules, is the Shack on the way to where we’re going?”
Julie: “Uh, no.”
Hann: “Oh. Wanna go anyway?”
She tried local cafes and coffee carts all over the seacoast region, basically. And I got a text-by-text update for every single coffee. Seriously. Every one. At this point I’ve compiled all the data into a concise summary, which is as follows.
There’s this one place on campus that everyone really likes but she’s not into it because you have to add your own milk and sugar and she always screws it up. (Still a newb at heart). She refuses to even go to this other place because the cups are Styrofoam and ugly. (Aesthetic is key, apparently). She’s into the coffee cart with the Jesus quotes all over it, but the key there is asking for “a pinch of sugar.” And, just last week, she tried this other cart for the first time. And I got a text play-by-play: Vanilla Hazelnut flavor. Milk and a little sugar. Really good, despite Styrofoam cups. (Nothing can be perfect, I guess. Except the Shack.)
I made fun of her as the texts rolled in, but the truth is, I love hearing about Hannah’s coffee endeavors. I love giving her shit for describing them to me in such detail. Maybe it’s because we spend so much time together every day, and we’re running out of novel things to talk about. (Living in a tiny room with someone for close to four years does that to you.) But I think it’s also because she’s just my favorite.
In a similar vain, one night during our sophomore year I was sitting across from Andie, one of my other best friends, in the dining hall. She was staring intently at her iPhone and fretting about whether or not to upgrade to the new iOS thing, or whatever. I sat and watched her with my chin in my palm and thought, if this was anyone else, I really wouldn’t give a shit. Who the hell cares about what anyone’s phone is doing but their own? But I love Andie. She’s one of my favorite people, and in that moment I cared deeply about whether or not she was going to update her phone and the ramifications of such a decision. I think that’s how you know when you when you’ve found the people you love.