Coffee; the warmest hug I’ll get in quarantine


Sara Borkman

Illustrations by Jocelyn Burton

Coffee: the warmest hug I’ll get in quarantine

Exactly one year ago today, I sat down at my usual seat in my favorite coffee shop. I ordered the same drink I ordered today. Last year, I was jotting a spiral of thoughts into a journal. Today, I type out this post. These are the only facts that remain the same: my coffee shop has not moved. Every other fact about my life has changed; I’m sure the same goes for readers everywhere.

I was so excited for my senior year of high school. I was so excited to walk across that exact stage I watched my boyfriend, my best friends, and my brother travel from, leaving their old lives behind forever. 

My excitement quickly died in March. I didn’t get to walk away from my old life; it followed me like a dark cloud overhead as the continuing months took the ground from underneath my feet. The hallowed halls of my high school were replaced with my kitchen doorway, my teachers’ warm smiles were moved behind a phone screen, and I never had to worry about where to sit in the cafeteria again. As the country made a swift move to online schooling, I did not get the chance to attend my senior prom. I didn’t have a graduation practice, and I’ll never know what it felt like to feel the warmth of the stage lights kiss my past goodbye. 

Remote schooling did not cease after high school: I’m still in my same old town, in my same old room, singing the same old song. It isn’t like I haven’t tried, but, who would have ever guessed that I would be starting college in the middle of a pandemic? Who would have thought that I would be reaching out to you all through a computer screen, rather than in person or in print?

My underwhelming first week of school concluded with a robbery. I discovered everything I needed to attend school (my laptop, my textbooks, my planner, my notebooks) was stolen out of my car in the middle of the night. I lost my driver’s license, my debit card, and my student ID. It seemed as if, between the robber and the pandemic, my entire life was stolen from me. I had nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to see, and I wasn’t even able to offer proof that I was there. That I am here

And yet, here I sit, in my exact same spot, drinking that exact same cup of coffee I did one beautiful, hopeful year ago.

Hold on as tightly as you can to those moments of exactness. Hold onto that cup of coffee, and drink it slower. It’s okay if all you have is coffee to keep you sane; there is no right answer to surviving in this current world. 

Sure, I didn’t get to walk across a stage, or move a tassel from left to right. I didn’t get a “move-in day,” or even a class to arrive at for that stellar first day of school.

I have my coffee. For now, that will have to be enough.