Long walks- an everyday habit I picked up from my father-are my thought process. My calm down. My pump up. My escape. My whatever-I-need them to be. Growing up, the first place I was allowed to walk solo was to the neighborhood coffee shop. I remember the first sip of my sister's chai from there. Ew. What a weird notion that I would grow to love it. However, as I was frequently in need of a walking destination, I found my space there. (Although, it would be years before I gave chai the second chance it deserves.) Introduced to mocha granitas, coffee disguised in frozen chocolate milk, my current coffee addiction began. This, by itself, is a strange idea to reflect on. What has become so much of my daily routine, my work history, my fascination, and my hobby began with such a simple foundation. Such a seemingly small thing at the time that grew into so much of my life. See, the strange part though, is that the same can be said of my friendships. I know, right? Like I'm really about to compare my growth into coffee addiction to my growth as a human… (I am though, so just hang tight.) One of the most common things I heard as I prepared to leave for college was that I would always love my high school friends but that eventually we would leave each other behind…that my “best” friends would be made in college. Because that's “when people really start to figure out who they are.” Um, okay. I mean, don't get me wrong- I've met several of my best friends post high school. But, the majority of my closest friendships were formed during those high school years, and yes, we spread out far and wide geographically. (And hell, wait do I even know who I am now? Do people ever really feel like they're finished figuring themselves out, and they're just like chill, yeah, done growing, bro?) So, anyways, here's the concept of strong foundation again. As I transitioned to college, my coffee order began to change with me. For starters, frozen coffee was not included in my meal plan. And there were always late nights studying or freshman mornings that required just a little more kick. Maybe my coffee could be a little stronger. A little less milk. In addition, coffee walks remained my escape. And depending on the day, I could jam to the newest playlist my bestie had sent or bring a book and get lost in one of my favorite adventures. All with my comforting coffee in my hand. And eventually, I found love in just black cold brew. What a radical change from my initial order, but the love was still there. The way I came to drink and work with and find comfort in my brew changed but never the love for the brew. So many humans that I love I have seen change their order, their interests, their hobbies, their goals and aspirations, their fears, and their hopes. In those early college years, coming home to an old coffee hangout with a new order, I could only wonder if the relationships I had formed had changed too. It was a hollow fear. Although we were already far from being the same people that we once were, the original love remained. My friendships and my coffee have unquestioningly known the worst of my days. And both have only gained strength through my growth. Now, however, in my late twenties, I would never argue that I no longer know the person I was. The person that somehow stumbled upon those small, sweet moments that turned into the strongest of foundations. I can point out that I am no longer the same, nor am I proud of many parts of my past, but I still know that person, she is a foundation as well, of who I am today. I am often asked when dating to describe myself. To lay myself out on the line. But who do you want to know? I can tell you who I am in this moment, who I used to be, how I hope to grow, and yet, who I am remains difficult to define. I am fluctuating. Mornings that I have work I'm a chug-my-cold-brew-as-fast-as-I-can kind of person. Casual mornings with known or new humans, I'm more of a sit back and sip it kind of person. Often my coffee comes on adventures with me, giving me comfort when I'm lost in a story. Frequently, a coffee means a coffee and walk. Sometimes, it's an oat milk dirty chai kind of moment. And others, it's a black, so very black, add a double shot day. It's a fluctuation. With a basic, strong foundation- my love for the brew. My love for coffee is honest but not always simple. Humans are the same. We're forever fluctuating in who we are, each moment an addition to our own definition. And sometimes, we are fortunate enough to collide with another human, in such a small way and create this foundation for love that lasts through the ages.