I had my first lover at 5-years-old. When we first met, she was dressed in orange. With my little, inexperienced fingers, I held her close, steam rising from her caramel completion, soaking my face, and her scent…it teased me with promises of great taste to come.
I couldn’t resist any longer. I pressed the orange mug against my bottom lip, and slowly tilted it up, and sipped. The moment the coffee tickled my taste buds, not even Cupid’s arrow could of made me fall any greater in love with the caffeinated liquid.
I was had, but it wasn’t just coffee I had fallen in love with. It was caffeine. That false energy. That pick-me-up. That wonderful hyper-ness that had me bouncing off of any wall I could find. I loved it. And I knew it loved me.
Our relationship lasted for years.
I used caffeine in many forms, but my favorite was coffee. Drinking it became as routine as breathing. Breathing is the most exciting thing one can do, even though it’s done without a second thought. You take a breath inside, and it gives you life. My daily cups of java poured life into me every single morning.
I would catch the 7 am bus to my university, and while everyone else around me moaned and complained about another day of classes or the crowded bus, I would sit back in my uncomfortable seat, my left hand warmed by a 12 oz WAWA cup of coffee, and my lips wrapped around the straw. Headphones clutched my ears, while caffeine and my favorite tunes harmonized as the first light of day broke through. Now, that’s how one survives the early morning.
Caffeine saw me through the tough times. It even helped me battle my life long war with utter shyness. Used to be a time when I couldn’t talk to one stranger, much less a room full. But, one day, I attended an event at a Starbucks, where writers were welcomed to read some of their work. Terrifying, right? Not after two large cups of coffee, and an inability to keep a single inch of myself still. Coffee gave me the caffeinated strength to get up in front of a couple dozen strangers, say a cheesy joke to break the ice and do the most intimate act an writer can do with another: I shared my work.
But, not even a year later, our caffeinated love story came to an end.
I started to develop dizzy spells, and constantly found myself breathless. Even scarier, every once in a while, my heart would pound as if it wanted out of my chest.
“What’s wrong with me?” I finally asked my doctor one day, expecting the worse. I’m a hypochondriac, so my imagination had basically given me a death sentence as I waited for the diagnosis.
“Your body’s having a reaction to bad anxiety,” he explained, and I let loose a sigh of relief. That doesn’t sound so bad. “Your heart is naturally beating fast, now. So, I recommend you don’t have caffeine anymore.”
The Sun instantly sank. Storm clouds rolled in and unleashed Armageddon. It was the end of the world. Of course the doctor didn’t notice any of it. It was only the end of my world.
Caffeine had betrayed me. I gave it my heart, and it wanted to give me a heart attack.
I had decided right away that I’d have to break up with caffeine. Like I said, I’m a hypochondriac, and nothing removes Cupid’s arrow from one’s back faster than dread.
And that’s when I found myself on the run.
The very next morning, I caught the bus as usual, but nothing seemed right. My left hand felt oddly cold. I had my headphones on, but where was the harmonization between music and caffeine that gave me the motivational boost to make it through my day?
I tried to block it all out. I had dumped caffeine, and had to live with my decision. But right as I was starting to compose myself, I glanced out the window, and the universe slapped me in the face. Hanging high above the door to the building directly across from the bus was a huge banner that read, Grand Opening! Dunkin Donuts!
This isn’t happening! I told myself. Maybe I was just hallucinating from caffeine withdrawal. But then my eyes found themselves back down to the pavement, where a giant, man-sized cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee was waving his arms and dancing around.
I realized the worst was happening. Like a scorned lover, caffeine wasn’t willing to let me go without a fight. It would endlessly flaunt itself, tempting me to spend just one more morning together. Caffeine wanted to make me pay for dumping it.
I frighteningly realized that our world is completely saturated with caffeine.
Nothing demonstrated this more than the time my friend and I were walking through campus one afternoon. A salesgirl had pulled us aside, and asked, “Hey! Would you guys like to try some of our caffeinated water?”
How could I possibly survive in a world where my deadly ex stalked me everywhere? I couldn’t even trust water!
Like getting over any bad breakup, I had to rely on routine. I went through my withdrawal, while every trace of caffeine left my system. I had to block out those constant five hour energy commercials, and find a natural way to get a boost. I started to exercise. Like clockwork, I rode my bike everyday. I ate fruit. I got a little extra sleep. I, without Redbull’s wings, pulled multiple overnighters at school to finish projects, and survived!
In a caffeinated world, I am as unplugged as my coffeemaker. I’m free. But, I still wouldn’t completely trust myself in an empty room with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. She is my ex after all.