It was New Year’s Eve, and a gust outside plummeted the 35 degree weather to windchill of 20 degrees. And I felt nothing but warmth.
That was the theme of my Christmas this year. I asked for a parka, an electric blanket, snow boots. Moving from Charleston, SC to Boston has proved to be quite a change of climate, which, of course, was to be expected. After getting off work the other night, I ordered take out from 12 Hours, a place that serves a variety of Thai and Asian Fusion. I walked there in my new Lands End parka that dropped to my ankles and surrounded my head in a halo of faux fur. It was like walking the streets wrapped in a bed quilt. As an added bonus, I looked like Lord Commander Jon Snow of the Night’s Watch.
The next morning, I awoke wrapped in my synthetic down comforter, woolen blanket, and flannel sheets. The latter two items were gifts from my mom; they were both things I considered buying for myself and never put on my Christmas list, but here I am. As you can imagine, I stayed in bed for a few more minutes (like 60) and scrolled through social media, email, and Indeed jobs and internships.
When I finally got out of bed, my roommate, Donna, greeted me. I went to the kitchen and put the Keurig on. While I was waiting I shouted down the hallway, “Do you like coffee?” I had already started walking towards her bedroom.
“No, not really,” she said.
“Smell this!” I said. I pointed the open end of the bag toward her.
She humored me because she loves the smell of coffee, though she doesn’t enjoy drinking it.
“Oh my god,” she said. I was satisfied with her response, but I ended up being slightly impatient for her to stop inhaling the strong aroma that the grounds emitted.
I got this particular coffee while I was in my hometown, Roanoke, VA, at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op downtown. This store offers bulk coffee, which means you can pour your own beans into a bag and also grind them yourself. The roast that I got is called Mind, Body, and Soul by Equal Exchange. I wish I could tell you all of the undertones in it, but I’m not a professional, or amateur by any means, coffee taster. Still, I love a quality cup. My friend, Ally, who manages a coffeeshop called Oceana in Tequesta, FL, spoiled me with the coffee that they roast. Since she brought me coffee from her shop, I have never again settled for Starbucks. If you live in South Florida, consider stopping by. Also, you can buy their coffee online. I hope my bank account doesn’t suffer too much from my newly acquired taste, although I’m still saving tons by making coffee at home rather than buying it out at a cafe.
Since I got this coffee on my last day in Roanoke, I kept it in my car rather than bringing it into the house. As we packed away my things, my dad said, “You’re right, Alex, that coffee smells damn good.”
After driving from Roanoke to Boston, smelling this coffee for 12 hours, I was eager to finally drink it. I was not disappointed – it was just hot enough to create a warmth that radiated from right below my sternum. In me, it struck a sudden inspiration, and a sudden realization of this morning’s theme. I am so lucky, so grateful, for the warmth and comfort of my apartment and the gifts I’ve been given. I am grateful for the contrasting and refreshing air outside, for its invigorating nips and the gear I have to fight against the bigger bites.
I feel within and without the contrast and ironic juxtaposition of my desires. On one end, I desire adventure. I am always hungry for to try new things, to be awe-struck by sublime visions, to travel to new places. Changes, like rocks in a flowing stream, oxygenate me. The idea of my life becoming stagnant is depressing. I made this analogy a lot in my college essays, and I think that was because I was going through a transition. I now find myself at another.
The other side of the coin is that I crave comfort. I crave familiar intimacy with those who surround me. People who warm my heart and help me to relax. People who calm the reverberating echoes of my mind. People who, in a sense, keep me warm.
Since moving, I’ve realized the importance of physical touch. I’ve talked to Donna about this a little. I’ve wrote poems about a flower withering without touch (If you’re laughing, that’s fine, because I’m laughing too). I’ve been making friends in Boston, but not friends who I can yet feel comfortable hugging. I know this may sound strange, but one thing I miss most about my friends from Charleston is physical proximity. I miss hugs, sitting next to them on the couch, or leaning on them when I start dozing during a movie. My family is not huge on physical touch, save for my dad, who is an amazing hugger. But, as I sat on my bed New Year’s Eve morning, enveloped in warmth that is in many ways provided by them, it wasn’t hard to imagine that I was being hugged. That, through these gifts, they reassured me comfort, stability, and safety in my many adventures, far from home, and in the strangely uncomfortable but thrilling climates I constantly seek.
Before I finished writing this yesterday, I went to meet my friend Mickey at her house for Irish Breakfast and New Year’s Eve adventures. She greeted me with a bear hug.