A few years back, it was my first night at the New Age spa. A silver-haired woman sat across from me at the communal dining table; she slipped me something, very sly.
“You’re new here right?” she asked.
“How did you know?”
“You’re wearing a cashmere sweater and pearls. Look around — Everyone else is in sweats.”
I looked around. She was right. I smiled. I could see I was going to like this this place.
“I’m checking out tomorrow morning,” she said. “But you can have my packets. Don’t let anyone know.” She looked around, eyes squinting. I looked at the packet — Sanka.
I went cold turkey for the next couple of days. I never used the packets, but just to remind myself they were there, I’d occasionally tap them in the pocket of my sweats.
Just the idea of coffee comforted me.
Coffee was there for me if I needed it. And I do need it.
There have been times my family, friends, colleagues failed me. But not coffee.
Coffee loves me unconditionally.
Studies show that coffee keeps women from depression. The Consumer Report Study on Coffee says Four or more cups a day? Fine, you’ll be 20 percent less likely to be depressed. So, go ahead. Have another cup of coffee. Better yet, have four. I dare you. Yea, try to keep up with me!
Not that I’m competitive. Okay, yes, I am a competitive person. I blame the fact that I have three brothers. I have even found I can be competitive in a spa-like setting – in yoga class or a moment for meditation.
How fast can you get into a meditative zone? Oh, yeah! I can meditate and relax twice as fast.
This summer I went to Kripalu, a wonderful, place. The breakfast is a silent meal. And guess what? I am more silent than anyone. I am also the slowest and quietest eater there.
In this political season, you may hear some politician brag of having good words or the best or hugest plans. Yes, well. I have the best silence. I have a huge mindfulness practice. The hugest.
I have trouble letting go of my competitive drive even while receiving a massage. I am probably the most relaxed person the masseuse has ever laid hands on.
Oh, God, who am I kidding? I am never able to relax. I am so tense. It is from the coffee. Or maybe the chai tea latte. Yes, they serve that at spas now. I had that at the quiet breakfast at Kripalu. I was bursting to tell someone — anyone — “Wow this is some good chai!”
But everyone was so quiet — unlike the old days when we chatted and discreetly passed one another little Sanka packets. Coffee tasted better when it was forbidden.
Still. Coffee’s perfect. With conversation or with quiet. Communal or solitary. The world may bring you down. But coffee and chai and a few days at the spa? They lift you up.
I read this tonite at noson lawen, translated as “happy evening” at the Welsh Church.