It rained that morning.
You were full of excuses; forever the king of justifications, the king of reasons why.
That was the morning I stopped believing anyone who says the words “I wish I could, but…”
This week I sat at my favorite hotel restaurant, the one with the floor to ceiling windows and white linen tablecloths.
The dark clouds reminded me of that morning. I thought about how I always knew your coffee order and that I am almost certain you never knew mine.
I never showed up to you holding a vanilla latte.
That was what my coffee order back then. Sometimes caramel, but mostly vanilla. I can’t remember how many times I must have ordered one standing next to you, but I would be willing to bet you never noticed.
Because there are some people that never know the coffee order of the person standing next to them. Then there are those that could list the coffee orders, birthdays, and eye colors for people they’ve met only a handful of times.
As my hands wrapped around that little white mug that splashed on that white linen table cloth, I laughed that I couldn’t remember the last time I had a vanilla latte.
There are also those of us who spend years being walking apologies to someone who will never know how we take our coffee. Even after we showed up at their door with their exact order more times than we could count.
There is a temptation to be bitter, but I think I just feel sad for the person who may never know what it feels like to show up at someone’s door and know what they need even before they do. To have pulled yourself outside of your introspective mind long enough to hear someone say, skinny vanilla latte. Just long enough to store it and to think, I care about this person enough that one day, I’ll use these words.
I lived inside of my head for most of my childhood.
I didn’t realize how dark and greedy it was until I realized that I didn’t know what it was to love another outside of myself. That I never valued the thoughts of another, never truly treasured another’s feelings over my own. I lived inside a monologue with an audience of one.
That way of living and thinking never hears or cares about the coffee order of someone else, doesn’t remember birthdays, doesn’t memorize the sound of another’s laugh. It doesn’t care if someone sits alone. It never notices the pain of the person who knows your exact coffee order, who shows up on all your birthdays, who gets disappointed when you only want to converse with yourself. It only notices its own pain, its own weakness, its own feelings, its own I’m-so-exhausted-and-I-don’t-feel-like-it. It only notices its own I’m-just-not-good-at-remembering-things…
Because love gets good.
Love gets good at making and ordering coffee (or tea) for others. It gets good at warm hugs, birthday cards, saying I still see you, I notice you. Love gets good at saying I’ll be there, gets good at getting out of bed and fighting through exhaustion to make good on that promise. Love gets good at cutting the meeting short and making it to the recital on time. Love gets good at remembering anniversaries and birthdays, because love gets good at noticing pain and wanting to avoid it the few times in life when it is possible.
Love gets good. It starts to see the joy of sacrificing our own convenience to show the depth of our affection to another.
To force our brain to remember a coffee order and a birthday. To stop and to give a hug when running late, to make eye contact when you really need to be in a meeting. To stay at the dinner table a little longer, even though the game is on.
I take my coffee differently these days: this was what I thought as I took the last sip of the morning, and left the restaurant. I wondered if you still take yours the same.