I never drank a full cup of coffee, or smoked a whole cigarette for that matter, until I worked. I was fifteen, at the bottom of the totem pole at our local CVS, and for the first time in my life felt tired. I manned the cashiers evenings and weekends, and when I wasn't working, I was in high school, and when I wasn't in high school I was busy mooning about the boys I liked and avoiding homework. Sometimes I practiced my electric guitar and daydreamed about becoming a rock star like Lita Ford, but mostly I was avoiding something. Avoiding required reading, avoiding the disapproving glances of my elders, avoiding thinking about what I was going to do if the whole rock star thing didn't work out.
Breaks were rationed pretty strictly at CVS. You got 15 minutes if you worked three hours, over five and you got a half hour. But when the store was quiet and the smokers wanted to go take a puff, no one thought twice. They would congregate in the back room sometimes for 10, 20 minutes, while the newbies like myself stood at the register and tried to act casual when someone bought condoms. There was no way I could have gone up to my manager and told her I wanted to stand in back and daydream for twenty minutes, but now I sorta wish I had.
There was also a morning coffee run to Dunkin' Donuts on the weekends. I started out drinking it black, because that seemed badass. (That was also why I smoked Marlboro Reds.) It wasn't until my twenties that I started brewing my own java at home, and by then of course I was hooked. The cigarettes fell by the wayside in my early twenties, but coffee seemed so innocuous. Every once in awhile an article in a women's magazine would tout the power of its antioxidants.
It was the hardest thing to give up when I first found out I was pregnant, even harder than my beloved red wine. I went cold turkey and had a migraine for three days and vowed I would never drink the stuff again. But, dazed and confused, with a newborn in the house, I came back. Again and again. Now it's been almost two weeks. (Except for the pot I brewed when a friend came to visit - but doesn't casual consumption prove the addiction is gone?) My moods are more stable. I don't feel the same crash in the early afternoon. And, I'm not sure if this is a coincidence, but I was finally able to break through my weight loss plateau, and go from 8 pounds down to 11. (I promise that's the last I'll talk about weight loss. Sugar says that no one cares about your weight, and I believe everything Sugar says.)
Lest you think I'm a total caffeine-free saint, I am still drinking tea. Usually a cup of green in the morning -- which is a milder pick-me-up, and feels cleansing -- and then sometimes a cup of something in the afternoon, with coconut milk creamer. I discovered this chocolate mate at a Stop N' Shop in Somerville, and it seems to have that magical ability to assuage both a chocolate and a coffee craving.
These are intermediary steps. I'm hoping that, as I get healthier and cleaner, I won't need caffeine at all. We'll see. One day at a time, as they say.