This I Believe

Reese - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on April 27, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that coffee and shopping can solve any problem. I’m not a materialistic person, nor do I have the money to waste on extravagant purchases every time I’m feeling a little down. And I realize that caffeine is the drug of our generation, that an ever-increasing number of people are becoming addicted to the stimulation induced by a triple shot of espresso. But there’s something about carrying a new pair of jeans to the checkout counter of Guess while sipping coffee from a Starbucks cup that soothes the soul and leaves all sadness behind.

I remember sobbing uncontrollably in the passenger seat of my mother’s red mini-van not long ago. My knees were pulled up to my chest, my entire body squeezed onto the car’s gray seat, stained with the memories of sudden stops and traffic jams.

My mother was navigating in the driver’s seat. Every time she opened her mouth to speak to me, however comforting her words might have been, I reached over and cranked up the volume on the radio, drowning out her unwanted sympathy. By the time we reached the drive-thru Starbucks, Natasha Bedingfield was blasting into the downpour outside. Then my mother leaned out of her window into the rain and spoke some of the most comforting words I believe I’ll ever hear.

“Grande Nonfat No Whip Cinnamon White Mocha, please”

My drink. I believe that coffee is personal. With every additional word you add to a long list of demands presented to a frustrated Barista, you gain a bit more self-respect. There’s something about Starbucks Coffee, or that pair of jeans that fits perfectly, that strengthens your sense of identity.

My mother handed me the drink. The warmth of the cup spread through my fingers, promising that my coffee would be everything I hoped for, and possibly more. “Want to go shopping?” my mother inquired. I smiled. I was already feeling better.

By the time I returned home with my two shopping bags and an empty coffee cup, I was cheerful and smiling, all tears forgotten. But the remarkable thing about this story is that, try as I might, I cannot remember the reason why I ever became sad that night at all. I don’t cry very often, and I almost never allow my emotions to be viewed by other people, especially my parents. However, I remember my tears flowing easily, signaling that some significantly upsetting event had occurred. Yet my only memories of that night are of my “healing process”, which goes to show that my mother’s seemingly materialistic method of solving problems didn’t just cover over my issues, to be dealt with at a later time, but actually provided a solution to my grief. I believe there is power in the coffee cup and the checkout line, a power that reinforces a sense of self, and makes all problems seem miniscule in comparison to the importance of caring for and treating oneself to the luxuries we deserve.