Hannah Tippens’ “Coffee”

After I finish getting ready in the morning, I open the door to the living room. It’s still
dark. I have to use my phone’s flashlight to make sure I don’t bump into anything, like the coffee table, which is at perfect shin hitting height, because running into that could send my fish Squid tumbling down in his fishbowl.

The floorboards in our house creak and the walls are thin so I step lightly as I pass from
living room to kitchen. I’m occasionally the first person up at my house, even though I usually come home after everyone’s gone to bed, so I always have to tiptoe around.

My goal when I enter the kitchen is always coffee, sweet sustaining life blood. Unlike the
saving blood of Christ, I must work for it. I find our pitiful blue and electric green step stool, placing it delicately in front of my set of cabinets. It has three shelves but the lower one has a lot of tupperware that isn’t mine, it might belong to the girls who lived in the house before us. The second shelf I can only reach on the step stool. That’s the shelf where my coffee lives, medium roast Fleetwood coffee. I bought it at Food City but it feels more accurate to say that I received it from heaven.

After I grab the coffee, bringing it closer to earth, I have to get the sugar from the third
shelf. If it’s on the edge of the shelf, I can easily pinch its side, pulling it towards me, and letting it fall into my receiving arms. But if it’s even center shelf, I have to climb onto the counter. I put my left knee up on the counter first, the one that I had surgery on. I feel the bones in my knee meet the surface of the counter like rocks being pressed together, neither willing to yield. Then I bring my right knee up, kneeling before these sweet crystals. I grab them and then, praying I don’t fall, I reach for the step stool with my left leg.

The worst of the work is over. I grab the cinnamon from the cabinet next to mine, easily
reached from the creaky floor. I dump the remains of yesterday’s coffee grounds into the trash, grab a new filter and tuck it into its spot in the coffee maker, open up the coffee bag to receive new life, fill the filter with three spoonfuls of coffee grounds, dusting the top of the coffee with cinnamon – a ritual I learned from my sister, and then I fill the maker with water. Pressing the on button doesn’t just brew the coffee. It urges the sun over the remaining horizon to shed its light upon my day. It breathes life into the flames of hope in my chest that the night almost put out.

As I listen to the consistent drip of holy liquid, I fill my chosen mug with a spoonful of
sugar and a layer of almond milk. The dripping ceases so I grab the coffee pot in my right hand, pouring its contents into the mug in my left hand.

Coffee. The only part of my day that stays the same. It links each of my mornings
together, unifying my disjointed and hectic life. Every morning, holding that cup in my hands, its warmth seeping into the skin on my palm, I’m filled with gratitude and a sense of peace. The familiar taste and warmness on my tongue grounds me in the present yet gives me the willpower to move forward. This. This is how my day begins.

~ Hannah Tippens

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