What a journey it’s been eh? Where oh where do I start.
I should probably start with our first encounter, when you burned me.
I was 3 or 4 years old. Young. Naive. Innocent (I think). I spotted you resting on the kitchen counter, and immediately felt intrigued.
I didn’t know who you were, but I wanted a taste. I pulled you closer – perhaps too close – because you fell on my chest. You burned me quite badly.
I guess my innocent young mind didn’t understand harsh realities at the time.
So that was it, a brief encounter. But that brief encounter made a mark; it left me feeling that you’re not my type. But not just you: tea, hot chocolate, all of you.
If you could burn me this badly on first glance, then why wouldn’t tea or hot chocolate? I was only 3 or 4 years old, but still old enough to realise that I needed a break from your kind.
Let’s press fast forward all the way to the autumn of 2005. 11 year old Ryan had a thought. Growing up in a family full of tea drinkers, I thought to myself, “maybe tea isn’t so bad after all.” I know you don’t exactly get along with tea, but after what you did to me, I felt like spiting you.
So I had a taste of tea. This time, no burn. It was delicious. A moment of clarity. I felt like it could be the start of something truly special. Did I think it could turn into a long-term love affair? Possibly.
The answer soon became clear: it was a match made in heaven. Tea understood me, tea could solve all my troubles, and tea could warm me up on those cold winter nights. I gave tea the love and affection it sought, and tea gave me a whole lot more in return.
Things were rosy in the garden, until 2008 that is.
In the summer of 2008, you reappeared, but something was different. You were more exotic, mysterious. You were of an interesting vintage, Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Co. to be precise. My commitment to tea had been unwavering for almost three years, but this time I cracked.
You didn’t burn me like that time in my infancy. Instead, you went down an absolute treat. Whether it was a Friday night after playing soccer with the lads, or a Sunday afternoon spent watching GAA, you were the ideal company. The perfect complement. I couldn’t help but be complimentary of you.
At the end of that summer, you left without much fuss or noise. I had enjoyed every last drop of you. I wanted more, but I also knew that I couldn’t put tea through this again. Tea understood that my commitment had been seriously tested, but it also knew that I was willing to work on those issues.
So we picked up where we left off, me and tea. I tried to forget about you, tried to put you in the back of my mind. And these attempts worked. By 2015, you were a distant memory, a moment in the past that I swept under the carpet, never to be uncovered.
Then America came along.
July 4th 2015. Independence Day. My first day on American soil. My first transatlantic flight. I was looking forward to a Stateside summer with tea. We had just enjoyed a quite magnificent year in Alicante, but I felt like we needed to travel in order to maintain our spark.
I wanted things to remain exciting. The danger of a long-term love affair is that things can fizzle out, that one can eventually tire of the other. Tea seemed to be very happy with me, but doubt was starting to creep into my mind. Independence Day provided affirmation.
It was my first experience of jet lag. A feeling of indescribable tiredness. I didn’t sleep a wink on my journey from Cork to Cape Cod. I was drained, but I couldn’t accept it. I had a long night of celebration ahead of me, and who wants to be the guy that stayed in for 4th of July?
I needed something stimulating. Something that could give me a boost. In my disorientated state of mind, I relapsed. I did the unforgivable. I cheated on tea…with you, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
What was the worst part about it? I didn’t even feel guilty.
For tea, this was the last straw. If I was willing to cheat on my first day in America, then tea wanted nothing to do with me. So we ended things. Almost ten years together, ended by my extracurricular activities.
America changed me. Suddenly, I was infatuated with you. The burn of my infancy mattered no more. That passion I felt in the summer of 2008? It was back, and it was amplified. That first summer with you was incredible. That electricity, that energy. Words can’t really describe it.
Going into my final year of college, I knew you’d stick by me. Those long days and nights spent in the UCC Library. And you were there with me every step of the way.
I haven’t forgotten what you did for me, certainly then but especially here in New York. You know that tea has tried to tempt me back with its flirtatious advances. It misses me, but you’ve become my lifeblood. I can’t desert you, and I can’t escape you.
You’ve been simply wonderful, and I want to repay you.
I love how you adapt your form to suit my taste. No matter what mood I’m in, you’re all I need. Latte, iced, cold brew, espresso.
You always look amazing and smell divine. I’ve seen you in so many outfits: warm mug, thermo flask, name brand cup. You pull off all of these looks and make them your own.
You’re even considerate enough to change your scent to suit the seasons. Now that it’s autumn, I can’t wait to catch a whiff of your pumpkin spice.
I’m grateful for everything that you have done and will continue to do. You give me the energy I need to face the day, every single day. Wanna know the best part? You don’t even have to try.
You’re effortless, timeless, and you leave me breathless.
I’m excited for our future together. And on that note, it’s time to go pick you up at Dunkin’.
I love you a latte,