As we embark upon the homestretch of this semester, I often find myself spacing out over my usual Temple of Zeus iced mocha. Weirdly enough, I hadn’t even noticed how frequent my coffee consumption was until a friend from home pointed it out via cross-country Facetime—every time we talked, I seemed to have a convenient cup of coffee within hand’s reach. I don’t even really like coffee, or at least, not the black americano no-sugar-no-creamer type of coffee. I’m more of a Starbucks kind of girl, content with the idea of drinking coffee while really just enamored by the festive red cup and its sweet-tooth-satisfying sugariness.
Prior to coming to Cornell, I actually rarely drank coffee. Growing up in a town populated by pearl milk tea shops, I was instead addicted to boba, or as I’ve learned to call it here in Ithaca, bubble tea. The only time you’d find me at a coffee shop was the same time you’d see me perched delicately on top of a stool, trying to chase Instagram-perfect latte flat-lays. Over the past few months, though, things have completely flip-flopped: I haven’t visited Kung Fu Tea for a good five or six weeks, but not a day goes by without an icy mocha in hand.
That’s when I started pondering: had I fallen into the infamous coffee rut of college life, in which the sleep deprived soul gets by from class to class solely dependent upon their huge tumbler of iced coffee? I quickly checked my sleep cycles log in the Health app on my phone, only to discover I’ve actually been clocking in a solid 7 hour 57 minute average per night. That couldn’t be it, then.
Could there be some sort of psychological comfort in always holding a cold drink in my hand? Whether boba or iced coffee, I’ve gone about daily life with some sort of beverage within arm’s reach since day one of freshman year of high school. Was it possible that my newfound mocha addiction only existed to sustain a void left by boba in my everyday routine?
Even though it’s inevitable for people to change, especially in college, I find it interesting that during any kind of evolution of personality or interest, there’s always some sort of residue forever grounding people to who they once were. While it seems as though I’ve been converted to “drinking coffee” akin to the romanticized image of a college student, I’ve really only switched a choice of beverage—I’m still tied to my old ways of needing the companionship of a drink.
In a few weeks, I’ll be going home for the first time since summer, seeing old friends after a semester’s worth of separation. I’m scared yet strangely excited to see how much we’ve all changed—I know I have, at least, and in more ways than just my infatuation with iced mochas. Although I’ve heard recollections about people not recognizing their once closest friends who’ve undergone an almost 180 degree transformation over the first four months of college, I know that no matter how drastic the change, there will always be some sort of residue connecting us back to who we once knew each other to be. I know that no matter how far I explore the limits of my personality, there will always be a part of me that’s connected to the thread of the past.
Maybe in a couple years, I’ll wean off my need for an iced companion. However, no matter which direction I mature in, there will always be a recognizable part of me that remains tangible to those closest to me.
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