Monday, November 14, 2011


I have no problem admitting I am coffee addict. I cannot function without two cups working within my system; without those two cups, I'm as worthless as the Tin Man without his oil can. One cup will not do. My mouth can move after one cup, but limbs move only after two cups. These days, I have to keep them oiled with a third afternoon cup.

When I was in Italy, I devoured the strong dark liquid locals claimed was coffee. The texture was like the red clay of the Carolinas, yet dark brown in color. If I stopped stirring my coffee, the spoon would not fall and clink against the side of the mug. No, the spoon would stand at attention, waiting for me to continue to stir thick cream into the mixture or to remove it to a saucer.  The coffee would roll down my throat, slowly, like molasses being poured out of a jar. The taste was divine.

The side of effect, full body wake up, was a necessity when studying aboard with a very energetic and enthusiastic professor who powered us through 10 hour daily marches of sightseeing. Fueled by coffee, I was able to keep up with my professor through two Italian study aboard adventures. I saw amazing things, made wonderful friends, and received more than a text book education. The second time I went to Italy with this professor, I was able to go to Venice.

While I was in Venice, my father was also going to be in Milan, Italy. He flew in a day early, and met us students and professor in Venice. Venice was the last stop on our six week whirl wind educational tour. While we had wonderful times and lots of coffee, hot showers, comfy beds, and fluffy pillows had absent in every hotel. In Venice, we were staying in a convent with board beds and space saving bathroom with shower head and toilet in one closet. My father was staying in a Marriott.

I was able to stay in the American staple hotel with my father for one night. Fluffy pillows, cushioned mattress, and most importantly a shower that did more than just dribble water. While Americans might not know a lot about high culture and art, we do know about beds and showers as well as gluttonous feeding.  The next morning before going down to the endless Americanized breakfast buffet, I decided to shower. The water burst forth at a scalding temperature; I stayed in the shower long enough to give a planet saving hippie a heart attack. The weeks of dirt and fatigue poured down the drain. Well rested and clean, I walked out in the shower in my pjs to see a hot cup of Italian coffee waiting for me.

My father had gone to the lobby area where breakfast was being served in order to make sure I had a fresh cup of coffee when I was done showering . What my father had not expected was for his daughter to spend that much time in the shower. Not until many months later did I know how much went into the small gesture of a warm cup of coffee. 

My father diligently watched my coffee and at any sign of the coffee losing warmth, he would rush back to the lobby and get me a fresh cup. He made three separate trips to  the lobby so his only daughter could have a warm cup of coffee. I would have drank luke warm or even cold coffee, but my father wanted me to have hot coffee. He didn't even need to go get me a cup considering we were just going to walk to the lobby to eat breakfast, but he wanted to show me that he loved me. Gestures of love do not have to be grand or expensive. That one cup of coffee meant more to me than plush pillows or hot showers; that cup of coffee was a father's way of saying I love you and will always be here for you even in the smallest of ways. And many years later, I know that statement is just a true today as it was then, and that it will always be true.

My dad and I, Venice 2006  


MJ said...

Ok. Made me cry.
You are a wonderful writer. With a Daddy who is Gaga about his baby girl. This story needs to be in the Great American Novel you must write.

Erin M. said...

Awwwwww! I love you. And your dad.

Man, I forgot about the space-saving bathrooms. Save the toilet paper!