The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Every morning there’s a cup of coffee and I wear your ring

Rachael Conlin Levy

I like coffee’s bitter taste on my tongue.

The way it smells.

I like how the first swallow burns the back of my throat as the hot mug warms the palm of my hand.

Coffee marshmallows in my hot chocolate make me feel like a little girl in high-heeled shoes.

I drink my coffee black if there’s a glazed doughnut nearby.

Otherwise, I drink it with cream, which adds the subtlest taste of sweet silkiness.

But when I drink my coffee cold it must be cut with an equal amount of milk, plus lots of sugar.

My favorite coffee song (as well as the inspiration for this post’s title) is by the Cowboy Junkies.

My favorite coffee roaster is the Laughing CAT, which is in Reno. When I moved to Seattle, I considered special-ordering my coffee for delivery, but figured that was kind of absurd. I’ve found a new roaster that doesn’t burn the beans, but something is still missing.

My favorite coffee mug broke.

I like the whooshing sound as I push down the filter inside the French press.

I like the steam and hiss of a drip coffee maker.

I like the guesswork of a percolator.

I like cowboy coffee, but don’t know whether I’m supposed to boil the heck out of it, throw egg shells in it, or a rock. Sometimes I do all three, and after a night on the cold ground with a pine cone poking me in the side, it tastes good. Real good.

The day’s third cup of coffee is an act of desperation. I try to avoid it.

My second cup is a treat I pour myself, a breather between when the kids are packed off to school and the dishes are washed.

But my first cup, brought to me by Marcel as I write in bed in the darkness before dawn, makes me feel like royalty.

I like how I can track the coffee’s progress from belly to brain in my writing notebook. The day’s first sentences are small, sluggish and sleepy, but with each sip of coffee the brain shifts and the pen accelerates. By the time I reach the bottom of the cup, the sentences at the bottom of the page are large and loopy, taking up two lines.

I quit drinking coffee once. My head ached. I drank tea, the hotter the better, and listened to Cold Tea Blues, another Cowboy Junkies’ tune. I was doing okay, not great, but getting by and then my imagination sputtered and stalled. So much for that.

I like that coffee makes me happy. Happiness, in my opinion, is not easy to find, nor is it easy to hang on to. Happiness, most of the time, catches me by surprise like when I’m blinded by the sun, I blink and squint and realize, Oh, I’m happy right now. It’s good to remember that happiness can be experienced simply by mixing a few spoonfuls of coffee with boiling water.

5 responses to “Every morning there’s a cup of coffee and I wear your ring”

  1. kyndale says:

    I just love the smell of coffee when I go by the coffee grinder station at Trader Joe’s. Coffee kills my stomach but I can smell it all day long!

  2. Rachael says:

    Yes, I think if perfume came in a coffee scent, I’d ask my man to wear it. If I could wear a food scent, it’d be tomatoes, hands down. Don’t know what that says about me, probably much more than I realize. 🙂

  3. I really like your description of your writing changing as the caffeine kicks in. I’ve definitely felt it. I’m also quite charmed by learning you are brought coffee in bed, before dawn. Very nice. Which reminds me of another song…

  4. Heather says:

    Mmmm. Jack and I switch who gets up and makes coffee and brings it to the other still in a sleepy cocoon. Just thinking about the morning smell ritual makes me happy too! Can’t wait for that moment tomorrow…

  5. […] In a sunnier, drier city, I shared my weekly trash with a homeless man, who was a taller, thinner, younger version of the star. This man’s path through my neighborhood preceded the garbage truck’s by one day, which meant Tuesday mornings I’d look out my kitchen window and see him sifting through the cans lining the alley. I’d lift a hand and send a small smile his direction, and he’d return it, before we’d turn back to our tasks — his search for aluminum cans and mine for the morning’s cup of coffee. […]

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