23: Love and Lattes

23: Love and Lattes

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love

Love and Lattes

I orchestrate my mornings to the tune of coffee.

~Terri Guillemets

When I first met my husband Geno, he lived in a garage. You may be thinking that he lived in a garage that had been converted into an actual room with real walls and some proper insulation, but that wasn’t the case.

It was just a regular old garage, the only modification being a large gray carpet scrap on the ground to keep the concrete from feeling quite so cold. The “room” was furnished with a bed, topped by several colorful striped Mexican blankets, and a worn dirty-looking off-white sofa obtained at a yard sale. A very old, very ugly, solid dark wood dresser stood in one corner.

Despite the lack of luxury accommodations, I would spend the nights with him there in the garage, huddled under the blankets, completely smitten. In the mornings, we would wake up and enter the actual house. We’d go into the kitchen where, with lavish attention to detail, Geno would make me coffee.

In the early years of our dating — before we got married, before the careers, before our two kids, and before illness ever touched our lives — back in the days when we both seemed to have a lot more time and energy, the act of Geno making my morning coffee was quite elaborate.

First, Geno would grind the espresso beans fresh. Then, he would carefully pack them into a European style stovetop espresso maker, which was a complicated contraption of filters, seals, and various parts that I never could seem to put together properly. As we waited for the coffee to percolate, he would separately heat up two mugs of milk in the microwave. When the coffee had bubbled and brewed, he added it to the steaming milk, creating delicious homemade lattes.

Back then, Starbucks wasn’t around, and to find a good latte wasn’t as simple as driving to the nearest shopping center. Geno’s lattes were the best in town, and I started my days feeling satiated by my coffee’s warmness.

While drinking our morning coffee, we would chat with his various roommates who lived in the house proper, eat some cereal or toast, and then go back to the garage.

As time went on and our overall lives became more complicated, the coffee routine simplified.

After we got married, my parents gave us a fancy Italian espresso machine. We loved it, but who had time to actually use it? So after a while, we bought a regular old Mr. Coffee coffeemaker. We replaced the glass pots when we broke them, which was frequently. Sometimes, we even bought the beans pre-ground.

After fifteen years of sharing our morning coffee and our daily lives, we temporarily uprooted our family and moved to Spain. This was a result of Geno having achieved a six-month sabbatical from his university position.

When we arrived in Spain, we were charmed when we opened the kitchen cabinets of our furnished apartment. “Look at this!” Geno exclaimed, holding up a tarnished espresso maker. It was a stovetop European-style, the exact same type that Geno had used when he first started making me coffee fifteen years earlier.

While in Spain, on sabbatical from our “normal” lives, we lived in a state of constant escapism, and it was blissful. The external pressures of our typical day-to-day existences simply vanished and we went back to the essence of our relationship.

And each day, as he had throughout our lives together, Geno made my coffee.

He once again made my coffee slowly and elaborately — just as he had when we were in our early twenties. There was no Starbucks in Granada, the city in which we were living, and while Spanish espresso is generally quite good, Geno’s lattes were still the best.

When we left Spain, we returned home — and we returned to reality. We also returned to our regular old Mr. Coffee coffee-maker — which these days boasts an unbreakable stainless steel pot.

Our lives have changed throughout our years together, but one thing has always remained constant.

Every morning, as Geno makes my coffee, I am reminded of my husband’s exceptional richness, warmth and love.

~Lisa Pawlak

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