- Books, Literature, and Writing
Coffee Grounds like Sand (A Narrative Essay)
My birthday morning began with my very first cup of coffee.I had been begging my mother to allow me a sip of her morning brew for months.I spent the beginning of every day waking up to the incredible aroma and could not wait for a taste.I just had this feeling that the coffee was going to be the first of many memories today.
My mother, wanting to keep me fearful of the black liquid that I would one day surely depend on, like so many other Americans, made me traditional Turkish coffee.This thimble sized portion was strong enough to drop a trucker dead and disintegrate this newly ten year old boy, which it nearly did.As I brought the tiny metal cup to my lips I felt the radiating heat on the tip of my nose.In one swoop I lifted the cup and the coffee sloshed across my tongue.The bitterness hit so intensely I felt a tingle in my toes.The grounds that had been lurking in the bottom of the cup found their way between my teeth.Luckily I did not turn into vapor, but I did spit the coffee all over myself and the kitchen cabinets.My mother was smart enough to have already stepped to the side.I noticed her slyness the same time I noticed her giggling.
“That stuff is awful!What’s wrong with you?”I asked after finally collecting myself.
“I told you it was only for adults.Now, go get your trunks on and grab a towel.We want to get to the beach before all your friends show up,” she said as she leaned over the sink to grab some paper towels.
I stomped my way down the hallway and into my room where I changed, still scowling.
When the two of us arrived at Tower Four’s nearest parking lot it was only mildly busy, with as many people on the beach as there were clouds in the sky.As the two of us exited the car my mother walked around to meet me at the trunk.She opened it and I reached for my towel and goggles.She grabbed a blanket and chair and we set off for the shore.
I plopped down my towel halfway between the wet sand and the concrete as my mother trailed behind.She only began to set up as I was knee deep in salt water.As she sat down I was up to my waist, shoulder deep when she opened her mystery novel.I dunked my head under the cold water and as I surfaced; I wiped my eyes.I made my way to the break and attempted to body surf for a few minutes, but with no successful runs I decided to head out farther.As I reached a treading distance I realized I had been caught in a rip current.The water intended to drag me out to open water.
My ten year old mind either falsely remembered or completely fabricated the information I would base my next move on.Under the impression that I could escape a rip current by swimming underwater I began toward the shore.Hands clasped together I dove beneath the water and as my legs breached the surface I was struck in the shin by an incoming wave setting in motion a cascading chain reaction.
This kinetic energy from the sea sent me spiraling, somersaulting under water.The water was incredibly clear for a San Diego summer.My vision, enhanced and cleared by the blue tinted goggles, showed me the dark brown sand below, bright blue-green filtered sunlight above. My mouth agape dragging my head behind my body it caught kelp and sand like a fisherman’s net.
Grains of sand ricocheted inside my mouth, bouncing off of gums, teeth and tongue.My last thought was of the coffee grounds that I had experienced for the first time earlier in the day.I had not made the connection at the time but the similarities of grounds and grain were miniscule when scraping the roof of my mouth.
My body continued tumbling when everything was brought to a stop as my head collided with the sand.
I opened my eyes to find a young man with shaggy black hair kneeling beside me.He lifted the corners of his lips into a smile which eventually evolved into a full blown grin.He let out a small giggle and looked up and to his right.My mother and several strangers were standing above me.I looked to each of their faces and I soon realized what had happened.The hands attached to my arms felt like they were gel filled potato sacks.I did my best to find my feet and after a few minutes I stood on solid sand.
My mother took me by the crook of my arm and led me over to the newly arrived paramedics.They checked me from head to toes and told me I would be alright.They only wanted me to rest the rest of the day and not work myself too fiercely.The two of us sat on the open back end of the ambulance and she told me of all that had happened in the last half an hour. I was informed that the man with black hair, Tower Four’s life guard, was already at the water’s edge as my feet first breached.My mother had run along behind him, her place in the novel was lost as she dropped it.
My party guests each arrived one by one to find my mother and me sitting on the blanket. We spent the rest of the day and night around a bonfire. My friends and family talked about what had happened earlier that day between stuffing our mouths with chips and sandwiches, but did our best to have an enjoyable day and put it all behind us.Over ten years after my mouth met the San Diego sand I still cannot swim in the ocean without imagining coffee grounds between my teeth or drink a cup of coffee without seeing my mother or that lifeguard’s faces.