The jasmine. I would order it at the corner coffee shop between classes, after classes, Saturday mornings. In the early days, pre-boyfriend, I ordered it alone. I would sit at my table, poetry notebook thrown open in front of me, notes and napkins strewn aside. In between the great novellas I was writing then, I would occasionally look up at the walls above the Barista's station, sucking on the end of my pencil, pensively creating the next life-changing line. Burlap sacks emptied of their coffee beans hung haphazardly on the wall below the ceiling. "Costa Rica" was stamped on most of them in a dark brown or umber color, obviously fading away.
Sometimes, Cheryl would join me, vignette masterpieces in tow. Cheryl liked her jasmine with a slight taste of sugar. I drank mine untouched so the dryness of the finish remained on my tongue until the next sip. We were both music majors but dreamed of secret lives in which we would only sit in coffee shops and write. Mostly poetry and short stories, although we both fantasized about writing a novel some day.
We were Atwood fans, primarily. Ten years ago, when we first read A Handmaid's Tale, we felt we had discovered a new literary universe. The only required reading by a female author in all my high school years was Wuthering Heights. Why hadn't our AP English teachers told us about this Canadian genius? Forget Conrad. Forget Dostoevsky and Kafka. Forget Shakespeare and Forster. Why was there no Atwood?
I bought tea yesterday. Stash peppermint. Right now, I am sipping English Breakfast with a dollop of honey, which I find soothes the rough morning throat. I haven't considered jasmine in years. Perhaps my tastes have changed, or perhaps I am avoiding memory.