The Smell of Coffee: Home Sweet Home
A Memory Never Forgotten
There’s a house in Haughville on Tecumseh Street in the city of Indianapolis. It’s a house with cracked and crooked, uneven and steep cement steps that leave you feeling triumphant for your climb to the top. It’s in the hood, yes, but it’s a house that will always be the setting of a fond memory. This is the house where my first memory of coffee brewed.
The first time I remember the scent of coffee was in her house – the one on Tecumseh. It sits on the street I associate with family; each time I visit that street, it makes me feel at home again. My grandma lived on that street; my great-grandma lived next door in the double home where my great-aunt lived; my uncle lived around the corner. Tecumseh Street is a reminder of home and coffee.
A Morning in 1999
At the age of five, I awoke in the three room apartment one morning. My ears were greeted with the usual sounds filling my great-grandma’s home: the TV blaring; the sound of my grandma’s raspy coughs from the kitchen; birds singing in the trees; sirens from ambulances and cop cars busily screeching every which way. I didn’t stir in bed for long, for a smell from the kitchen had my attention.
I’m sure my grandma Barb had coffee all of the time, but this is the memory that sticks out for whatever reason. This is the morning where an alluring smell was hugging the air. It nearly masked the overwhelming, all-too-familiar aroma of cigarette smoke coming from the kitchen. It was as if my nose was instantaneously drawn to this foreign scent, and I had to get out of bed to investigate what it was.
As I crept into the kitchen with sleep still in my eyes and a nappy head of long, thick brown hair, there was grandma. She was in her old lady pink nightgown, smoking and coughing away at the round wooden table. Resting on the table lay a coffee cup. Grandma Barb took a sip as if it were the most delicate treasure her dry lips had ever came into contact with… maybe because it was hot! I mean, who takes a large gulp of freshly brewed coffee? Anyway, as I watched her indulge herself in the delightfulness coming from from the coffee, I longed to have my very own.
I don’t clearly recollect how my miniature coffee cup with it’s matching saucer came to find a place in front of me at the big table, but it did. And in that moment, I was the happiest kid alive! I was sipping coffee with my great-grandma. Life was good! It was one of those moments where, even if you’re five, you feel like a fully grown adult sipping on bean water in the early morning, watching FOX news on the blaring television.
I took my very first sip of coffee that morning, mimicking my grandma’s motions.
YUCK. What on earth had this crazy lady poisoned me with? I never wanted to taste that dreadful substance again. No matter how adult it made me feel. What was wrong with this wicked woman?
Needless to say, I remember not enjoying my coffee. And in fact, I can’t tell you if I even finished it or not, but I do remember having a little tiny cup with it’s matching saucer at my side nearly every morning I had stayed the night to visit from that day on. It was our special thing in the mornings. She’d have her bean water, and I’d have whatever was in my cup in the mornings.
I ate my bowl of minute rice with sugar and butter for breakfast, like I always did. But I felt special. She had a way of making me feel like I was the most special person on earth. I think she knew how proud I felt to have my seat at the table with my very own tiny coffee cup and saucer. I’m sure I threw my pinky up in between gulps to look especially fancy from time to time.
Memories are odd. I remember things more vividly than others. Some are significant, whereas others I feel like I can afford to forget. Lately, I’ve been thinking more about what memories lie in my subconscious and why they might still be there. Do they hold some meaning I should unravel? Are they just there taking up storage space in my brain? I’m not sure. But this memory I wish never to forget.
I Love Coffee!
I am an avid coffee drinker today. I drink it everyday and suffer from excruciating caffeine headaches when I deprive myself of a cup or two or three on days that start busy and just get busier as the day progresses.
When I was old enough to develop a taste for coffee, I always thought about my grandma Barb, in her kitchen coughing up a lung, and filling out those silly gambling cards. Maybe Bingo? Whatever they were, we did them together over a cup of ‘coffee’.
The smell of coffee brewing in the morning is and always will be associated with my dear Great-Grandma Barb. Thanks for exposing me to my caffeine addiction, grandma. Cheers! May you continue to rest in peace.