“Sa food. Transpo. The usual stuff. Bakit? Saan ba dapat?” I must admit I was a little offended when she asked me that question but then I realized she had a point. I’ve been borrowing money from her for months. You would think that I wasn’t earning enough.
I went to my room feeling dejected. To take my mind off things, I decided to clean up a little. I folded my clothes and changed the beddings. After that, I opened the drawer beside my bed. That’s where I usually dump my things when I get home. Inside, I saw misplaced CDs, empty lighters and tons of Starbucks receipts. I guess that answers my mom’s question.
I sat down with all of them and realized I spend waaaay to much money on coffee. Just like in those old Safeguard commercials*, a paler version of me suddenly appeared.
“Kailangan mo na tigilan ‘yang adiksyon mo sa kape!” he said. I figured my conscience would not tell me to do anything that would harm me so I decided I would have one final cup of coffee and call it quits.
“Grande Caramel Americano,” the barista continued. “You order the same thing everyday.” She smiled at me like we knew each other from kindergarten or something.
I was tearing up a bit. This was it- my last trip to Starbucks. As she handed me my order, I bade her farewell. I’m not sure if she knew I meant it.
I sat down with my coffee, cleared my throat and began my farewell speech. “You’ve made me very happy. I want you to know that. It’s just…”
“Hold on just one second,” it interrupted. “I don’t understand why you’re doing this. Didn’t I make you happy? Didn’t I keep you awake for months? I don’t get why you have to do this.”
“I just can’t do this anymore. I have to think about my future and stuff. I’ll always love you. Please know that. Just not in the weird ‘I-wanna-raise-little-human-espresso-hybrids’ sense.”
“You need me. You know that.”
“I know.” I said. I thought about it a little. The adjustment’s probably going to be a real bitch. “Maybe we should do it gradually. I’ll start drinking less and less of you until I’ve completely weaned myself.”
“If that’s the case, let’s just end this now. It’ll be easy for me, you’ll see. I’ll have someone in your usual table in under a minute.”
“Don’t do that,” I begged. “Don’t you think I know it’ll be easy for you? I’ve seen how the others look at you. It’s just…” I struggled to continue but by then it stopped listening to me. I finished the rest of my coffee wondering if I understood my actions and its coming repercussions.
For days, I got by pretty well. To avoid the need for coffee, I started sleeping early and eating right. “Kaya ko naman pala eh!” I remarked. I was proud of myself. There I was, stronger and better in every way. I suppose there’s always a moment of victory when you successfully complete a goal.
I only stumbled once. Well, not exactly. I had a really big night and I ended up getting less than three hours of sleep. I felt like a zombie on my way to work. After deliberating for close to forty-one days, I fished my wallet out of my back pocket and went to Starbucks.
“An iced Venti Caramel Americano please,” I said to the barista. She looked at me but she no longer recognized me. I guess baristas are only friendly to über loyal customers.
“I’m sorry, sir but that’s no longer available. We only have warm milk, fruit juice and cold water.” I looked around. Everyone around me had their own cups of coffee. Why couldn’t I buy mine? I looked at her in disbelief but when the awaited punch line never arrived, I left the store feeling sad and a little confused.
I went up to the infamous siren and looked her in the eye. “Akala ko matitiis kita. ‘Di pala,” I began. I was starting to tear up.
“Akala ko ‘di mo ‘ko matitiis. Kaya mo pala.” I walked to the office with my head bent to the ground. Suddenly, the January morning felt so cold.
Coffee and Cigarettes
One Tree Hill: Friends With Benefit