life is like a coffee cup: sometimes its strong, or sometimes it’s sweet but it’s real.

Kylie - El Cajon, California
Entered on January 4, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, gratitude
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I don’t drink coffee often. Everyone has their own cup. Some like it dark, others with creamer. Some like it powdered with hazelnut, or vanilla sprinkles. Some like it fake, but I like it real.

When I grew up he wasn’t always there, he didn’t always call for my birthdays or come and give me enormous warming and embracing hugs. Most of the time I was with my mother, the only one strong enough to stay through the storm and the mess that I was growing up in. that he had unfortunately created.

Everyone always has a family, even if it feels like you don’t have one because somewhere deep in this frightening world we can find them, especially where you don’t expect them, and often times where we most often think we will find them, we are left crying on our knees and let down with the silence, the remembrance of what used to be, should have been, or could have been, where there sits an empty space of who should have been there.

Where I grew up I knew the world through my mothers eyes. I saw everything the way she did and inside of the places we called home together I learned what I know best. I learned my confidence, my wit, my personality, my cutting edge. I saw the scares and tears in the comfortable walls of our protection from people and places that have caused us pain. More specifically, I saw him wearing our walls thin and her left pain in her, inevitably leaving pain in my little weak naïve heart of only 6 years old.

She always knew there was something missing in the short time that I grew up.

Peoples places and things… and somehow I instinctively knew it too.

He continued to miss my birthdays, only send a card on Christmas and within those first short nine years of my life before he died I can count the number of times I saw him.

I remember his strong chest when I ran up to him from the porch. The way I jumped from the three stairs above and he was still able to catch me. The way he smelled of a clean shampoo, I remember it clearly and I was still only 3 feet tall, had an imagination bigger than a McDonald’s playhouse, and my glasses that stood upon the ridge of my nose as I peered into his eyes as he walked me down the street. We talked as if somehow I always knew his facial expressions, his graying hair, his deep hazel eyes with a studious curiosity, his button up shirts, worn out jeans, but I didn’t. I looked and wondered with each word he produced out of his mouth, and the more he talked, the more I saw how much I was like him.

I remember the red house I was born in, the few memories that rest and fabricate in my mind. My father’s office. Frigid iced glass doors in the mornings and I would hide behind his desk to simply drink his warm coffee with more than half of it milk always stirred roughly with bunches of honey.

He was real like honey, not like artificial sugar.

When I see people making cups of coffee I see their simple ingredients change with their specific tastes, each more often than not adding the sugar packages. Blue or pink, sometimes yellow, but my dad was different, or at least that’s how I see it. He’s the only one I’ve known that’s ever used honey. His coffee was the sweetest and the best.

He left me two weeks before my tenth birthday, but everyone has their own cup to brew. I see now in those walks I took with him and the memories from the big red house that I am more like him than ever. Even far after those short nine years of my life, I can see my features are his. My athletic little body. My mother tells me he was a built track runner. My blonde hair, my smile, my Norwegian creamy gold skin in the summer. But he’s rooted in me further than the surface. My piercing voice rings the same volume as all the Jorgensen’s when I’m around, and I simply know that comes from within him.

Years have passed and I still believe family is one the best cups of coffee. Everyday I can wake up and know I don’t have him by my side, that he didn’t raise me, teach me tricks with tools, or tell me what boys “really” want from me. He didn’t teach me how to ride a bike, or how to screw on a door handle for a time when I need to lock out those crazy boyfriends when living on my own. I didn’t learn my first cuss word from him, or come home with blushing cheeks to tell him about my first kiss. Those butterflies in my stomach, and how happy that boy made me feel. I never had the chance to see his reaction and tell me how sad he was to know I was “growing up”.

But sometimes, we need those strong cups of coffee to wake us up, make us feel the bee stings on our feet, or a sprained ankle after a hard pass. My father has taught me to deal with change like a tough gambler, and I know it hurts. It sucks, but with him I learned that somehow in the end the pain won’t be stinging so badly anymore. He taught me to be strong in the face of challenge. Not just stand and face it, but fight it full heartedly and know because of him I can handle it. Because of him, I know and feel the reality of life. I know he was real. I know life is real.

He’s pushed me to see what others are most often times oblivious too majority of the time. When we win a competition, I always look up into the shining lights that make the makeup on my face seem so brilliant with its colors, its shimmers, glimmering on my skin but I see the crowd looking upon us, and I know in those simple moments I have honey in my coffee cup. I have sweetness and cream. I have it real. Reality isn’t hell. We give it a bad reputation. It’s like a coffee cup; sometimes it’s dark and strong. Sometimes too strong for us at times, but other times it’s sweet. It tastes of brilliance and if stirred just right, it can be an extraordinary brewed cup of coffee.

I have honey in my coffee cup and I like it real.