Just like there are no atheists in fox holes, there are no (functional) New Yorkers who are not high on caffeine, be it in coffee, tea, or pill form. It’s nearly impossible to make it through a day in this city without consuming a latte or two (or three). And the reason if self-evident: it’s a city of over-achieving, insanely ambitious go getters, who will stop at nothing to make their childhood suburban dreams an urbanite’s reality.
As one of the aforementioned New Yorkers, I found myself this week in a state of perpetual action. As my high school principal once said to me when I refused to silence myself during a Bible class in which the issue of homophobia arose (ok, it’s didn’t arise until I raised it, but anyhow), “Speak little. And do a lot.” Though I haven’t fully mastered this ancient proverb– I still talk a great deal– I have managed to internalize the “do a lot” bit.
This week my loyalty skills were put to the test, when a friend indeed became a friend in need. Spending three nights in the hospital with her, and much of my day running errands on her behalf, I began to understand the concept of running on adrenaline, or some sort of caffeine-driven fumes. Rearranging my evenings, maximizing my one hour lunch break, and limiting my sleep time allowed me to attempt to be the best possible friend I could be.
It also reinforced my reliance on my drug of choice: the Almighty Latte. And as stressful situations often do, it drove me back to my original coffee haven, Starbucks. I will admit that since returning to New York I have been playing the coffee field, sampling Gimme Coffee!, Balthazar, Joe’s, Cafe Grumpy, and on the rare occasion Bowery Coffee too.
But this week was all about the ‘Buck. I returned to my roots– my core caffeine values– and chose to run on the original grind. I reasoned that given the chaotic nature of this particular week, in which every single day had several calendared events, I needed to reinstitute some stability in my life. Some people eat comfort food when they are down on their luck; I drink Starbucks skinny vanilla lattes. Same concept. Starkly different price points.
And I must say it was wonderful to reconnect with my past– revisiting pseudonyms (namely: Liz and Jesse) I used to employ when ordering my drink du jour; chatting with baristas who knew me when I was lowly intern; fighting for the corner seat during the morning rush. As I departed each morning, afternoon, and evening from Starbucks, I was energized, emotionally prepared, and ready to embrace my personal adage, “There are no decaffeinated folks in New York City.”
After all, as T.S. Elliot, the only literary superstar to make an appearance on my Wellesley hoop (used in the traditional Wellesley senior hoop roll), phrased it, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” And if my calculations are correct, I’ve had quite a caffeinated 22 years thus far.