The other day I came across a quote by Johnny Cash in which he was asked for his description of paradise, to which he answered “This morning, with her, having coffee.” I fell in love with the quote the moment I saw it and almost immediately posted it on my Instagram. He was speaking, of course, about his wife, June Carter Cash. Something about the image of the two of them having coffee together, and the fact that he attached such significance to it, truly warmed my heart. It made me think of my parents, who had coffee together every morning while sitting at their kitchen counter. It was a ritual of sorts for them. He would get up first and make the coffee and she would follow shortly thereafter, making her way into the kitchen where he would have her cup ready and waiting. And it went on like that day after day.
My parents’ life together was filled with similar rituals. My mom started dinner every afternoon at 4:30, in preparation for my dad coming home from work at 5:00. On Friday nights and Sunday mornings they would listen, without fail, to Frank Sinatra on the radio. On Thursday nights during the summer they would cut the lawn after dinner, and then sit on their back step together admiring it. My mom cooked certain foods on certain days of the week, and they ate ice cream with pretzels every night while watching their TV shows. She read the paper in the morning, he read it at night. Although their relationship was far from perfect, there were little details of their life that occurred on a regular basis that defined what they had together, especially in their later years.
In considering all of this, I realized that my parents had a far different life than the one that most of us have today. Not to wax nostalgic, but they lived in a simpler time. They had no electronic devices that kept them caught up on the world 24 hours a day. They had no means of communicating other than the old-fashioned landline, cards and letters, or a face-to-face visit. They didn’t even DVR their TV shows or have On Demand, so if they wanted to watch something it was only available one time, or they waited for the rerun. I find that most of us lack rituals because our lives tend to be so much more hectic than the one my parents led. I sometimes feel like our lives are something that are happening to us, rather than something we’re truly living, and things often occur more quickly than we can handle. As a result of keeping this frenzied pace, the interpersonal aspects of our lives begin to suffer. Relationships need personal interaction, and they thrive on the little rituals that belong only to you and that person. Texting is a huge form of communication, and while I love to text and I’m a firm believer that it can augment a relationship, it seldom works as the primary form of interaction, except in rare cases. How many times do we grab our coffee to go, rather than sit down in the morning with someone and consider that moment to be our definition of paradise? I’m going to venture to guess that it’s not very often. And where many things that occur regularly in our lives deplete us, isn’t it so true that time spent with someone you really like or love or care about in some important way leaves you feeling emotionally recharged? If we can make those moments of personal interaction occur more regularly, I think we’d benefit in amazing ways. You may be accusing me of being a Virgo, of wanting to plan and schedule and create routines, but I will counter with the idea that the routines we create with people we care about will develop into little rituals that we’ll come to love, respect, and ultimately not want to live without. They’ll help us to create deeper connections, something that many of us want so very much, even if we’re not entirely aware that we do. So give it a try. Have coffee regularly with someone. Or call them while you’re drinking your coffee. Or send them a good morning text with the coffee cup emoji everyday. It’ll create a ritual that you’ll begin to look forward to and so will they. It can begin to change your life in amazing ways. Ultimately, Johnny Cash was right. The closest we humans can get to paradise is by holding on as tightly as we can to those we truly love.
For today’s cocktail, I chose to go with a simple riff on an Old-fashioned because it’s a drink that should be made the same way every time. In that sense, it becomes a kind of ritual, or at least it has become one for me. I’ve added a bit a bit of cold-brewed coffee made from Bearings Coffee from Philadelphia and some DRAM black bitters to create some comforting spice. Make this drink for someone you love. Make this drink for your morning coffee person.
Your Morning Coffee
Place the sugar cube in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass with just a dash of water. Crush with a muddler. Add the remaining ingredients along with one large cube of ice and stir until cold. Express an orange peel over the drink and drop in. Cheers!