During the school year, when I purchased a dark roast from Green Line Cafe every day on my way to my first class, I never thought much about the casual money I had been shelling out to finance what may be a caffeine addiction. I wouldn’t know; an addiction is defined by a negative presence in one’s life, and I never considered coffee to be a burden. It’s one of the few things I consume that actually gives me life. But when the summer rolled around — and I could no longer enjoy those steaming dark roasts in those familiar green paper cups on my way to class — I settled into my phase of iced coffee.
For one, it’s sweet. Disgustingly saccharine. More like sugar milk than coffee. Normally, I would be repulsed to be drinking iced coffee. Like the sight of jubilant children playing on a miserable day, I wouldn’t be able to accept the cloying liquid draining into my dry mouth knowing I only have the stomach for the bitter affirmation of a darker reality. During the school year, the days seem to be filled with an empty haze. I would wake up an hour before my alarm to obsessive thoughts of rejection and missed opportunities. I would try to clear my mind and go back to sleep, only to find my mind consumed once again with jealousy and resentment. I would blink and find myself in the shower, where I am, once again, wallowing in the blood of the same metaphorical wounds that have, once again, opened.
Until, of course, I drink my coffee. And then I continue with my day. So it goes.
Sometimes, I feel resentful towards individuals who do not experience crippling despair at every instance of consciousness — the people who can casually drink an iced coffee and enjoy it. I can’t understand. I choose not to understand. Because doing so would just be a stark reminder of the fundamental differences between in the limitations in our realities. I have, luckily, been born into a household that allowed me the chance to comfortably attend a private college. I have, luckily, been able to create friendships that have fundamentally challenged my perspective on the world. I have, luckily, been able to thoughtlessly purchase a coffee every morning. But I don’t know where happiness will ever fit into this.
Although my distaste in surrounding myself with naturally cheerful people started out ironically, I cannot help but feel as if my sentiments were grounded in some sort of internal truth. To me, every day of living is a choice. The dark roast I get from Green Line Cafe helps is an example of me making a choice. I am making the choice to drink coffee; I am also making the choice not to die. And so, when I find myself casually picking out my iced coffee during my daily trip to Wawa, I cannot help but feel an intrinsic dissonance within my identity. Growing inside is the tumor of my summer identity.
During the summer, I forget. I forget about the identity that I have cultivated for the last 20 years of my life — my internal reaction to an empty existence — because my life depends on me forgetting. Thankfully, during the summer, I have had the privilege to forget. I have the privilege of going to sleep every night and not wishing that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. I have the privilege to spend time with my friends without thinking about how my happiness can only hurt me. I have the privilege to drink an iced coffee and enjoy it.
Until, inevitably, I cannot.