To me, meeting someone for coffee and sitting across a table from them conjures up memories of my childhood: memories of climbing up on my dad’s lap and stealing sips of cream-and-sugar-laden coffee from melamine cups, of spent Kent cigarettes overflowing the square glass ashtray, while another, in mid-smoke, unfurling loops of white vapor into the kitchen of the Maplewood home where I grew up.
My mom and dad made pot after pot of coffee everyday, the Mr. Coffee (before that the on-the-stove and electric varieties) churning out thousands of cups before the pot’s innards finally gave out and had to be replaced. My dad preferred a weaker brew, a sort of dark brown elixir, compared to the strong black coffee my mom loved so well.
The kitchen table was the epicenter, central command, for most everything that went on in any one of our lives (I have four brothers and two sisters). Sure, we had a living room with perfectly good sofas and chairs, but we liked the table the best. We’d talk of school or the weather or politics or silly things or Marty Robbins (my mom LOVED Marty Robbins and even cried at the table when he died), or, sometimes, we spoke not at all.
And most, if not all of those conversations, involved coffee. (Of course, ahem, there were some other beverages shared at that table later on, but there was always coffee.)
As I grew up and had my own family (one daughter and one son), yes, there was coffee; there still is. But now it’s Decaf. And instead of melamine cups it might be coffee in paper cups with a lot of skim milk and a little vanilla.
And so, in my new position as editor, as I meet with folks like Barb Parent, the mayor of Willernie, and she tells me of the 500-plus people who call that 88 acres home, or Dr. Larson, superintendent of the Mahtomedi School District who regales me with their wonderful programs, or Marisa Vette with the White Bear Schools and all it has to offer, or anyone in this neck of the woods, well, I guess it all reminds me of home. Of good people and memories.
So, if you’re up for it, drop me a note, pull up a chair, and let’s have some coffee.