Everyone has a crutch, and mine is black Americanos from Starbucks. I got hooked on them eight years ago while writing my first book—I could not get a single word written at home because that’s where my children live, and I didn’t think it would be right to take up a seat for hours a day at a local, independent coffee house. I didn’t feel any guilt taking up a seat owned by a massive corporation, though, and since there was a Starbucks around the corner from my apartment that stayed open until midnight, the second high stool next to the barista’s counter became “my spot.” Over time, my brain began to associate the taste of Starbucks Americanos with writing and productivity, and they have since become a key in getting me to act like a functional adult.
Starbucks closed most of its locations back in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and though I believe it was absolutely the right move to make, this disruption in my routine is just one more thing making this a weird and difficult time. I’ve spent almost every day of the past eight weeks typing away on my couch, flanked by two sons I’m trying to homeschool, drinking coffee that is tolerable but not the same. I want to see my baristas and talk to them about our kids or our weekends or what a nice day it is outside. I want a reason to walk the familiar steps I take to get there. I want the comfort and flavor of my routine. For eight years Starbucks coffee has been by my side as a constant companion; it makes sense that when I lost a sense of normalcy, I also lost my venti black Americanos.
Yesterday, after what has felt like an under-caffeinated eternity, Starbucks finally reopened the majority of its locations for pickup and delivery, and hell yes did I start my Monday by running out on an Americano mission. I have been nursing this coffee all day, making it last as long as I can, because every sip I take makes my entire forever altered reality feel a little bit more normal.