The Coffeehouse


The Coffeehouse – Uptown Normal.
Illinois State University campus. 2018.

My mom isn’t like those other moms. She’s a cool mom. But, not in the Amy Poehler-pink-velour-jumpsuit kind of way. She’s more like that rare, mystical blend of Stevie Nicks-meets-Molly Ringwald-meets-absolute-mad scientist.

After my parents’ divorce, my mom enrolled at ISU to complete her studies and secure a bright future for our girl power trio. She kept busy with multiple jobs and a full course-load to best support my ever-growing Sour Warhead addiction. Needless to say, my sister and I had quite the unique college town upbringing.

My sister and I quickly learned the value of successfully navigating public transportation, relishing in discount entertainment (overpriced gag goods at the Garlic Press, delicious treats hidden in the faculty break room…), and sitting quietly in the back of the computer lab.

However, it should be noted that nothing was more prized than the illicit trade of Tamagotchis, Beanie Babies, colorful R.S.V.P pens, and assorted Jolly Rancher Stix.*

Our home-base was always The Coffeehouse. My sister and I would tag along for any study session, meet-up, or afternoon date that presented itself. Depending on Mercury’s impending retrograde; we might grab an Italian Soda and bury ourselves in a book, or we might reign absolute terror and perform scenes from the Princess Bride that literally no one asked to see.

The Coffeehouse provided a familiarity that we weren’t otherwise accustomed to. The unique energy, fresh-roasted aroma, and curiously-torn-but-comfortable-anyway sofa served as a constant for us. No matter where we were moving, or what incredible stressor was weighing on us next… we always knew we had a refuge just a few blocks away.

I was able to return to The Coffeehouse in late 2018. This was following a 15+ year hiatus, so rest assured that I wasn’t cashing in on any stamp-card discounts.

Somehow it felt like not a moment had passed. Luckily for my company, I for-went the Princess Bride routine and indulged in an Iced Peppermint Latte instead (pictured above).

I sat on the same torn, leather sofas with starry eyes. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride. Pride in my mother for raising two strong women, pride in my sister for keeping me humble (and hilarious!), and pride in myself for savoring the little things along the way.

SPOILER ALERT – this place is definitely my 7th horcrux.


*Is modern romance dead? No man has ever sent me a bouquet of assorted Jolly Rancher Stix. And frankly, I’m pissed.