caffeine is a substance with which i would consider myself to have an addiction-like relationship.
as with all adictions, i have very specific memories of experiences related to caffeine… memories of people and places; of the binds caffeine has gotten me into, and those it has gotten me out of. likewise, i have my preferences. i have learned the effects of various caffeine bearing beverages on my body chemistry – what kind of high they offer, and, for the most part, just how low & where they will drop me off.
in 2003, i experienced what i recall as my first conscious caffeine cravings. my best friend’s brother, five years younger than us, had died unexpectedly in an accident. during the week or so i spent with her family as a mourner, i had consistent cravings for coca cola classic – in a can.
i was rewarded, then, with a comfort that was certainly some kind of tripped-out highly-cross-wired sensational experience – my brain consolidating the physical high of coca cola’s sugar-caffeine formula and the early-childhood-memories of sharing cans of coke at mattie’s pizzeria – a special end-of-the-week treat – when i was too young to finish my own can. this was a time surrounded by family, by the dynamic experience, the home-like comfort, of arriving in a restaurant where we knew the owner, the waitress, the pizza-maker – and they knew us, too. so, sure. i think a can of coca cola was pretty on the money that week – my brain working its magical higher functions – never shared at the time this rational explanation of what was a slightly bizarre craving streak.
about five months later, i was in france for the first time – spending a month on a study abroad program in a town called hyeres, on france’s mediteranean border between marseille and nice. i was flailing, in some respects, with another dependency: the crush addiction – stirring solitude, a desire-swiveled new friendship and the beguiling lingua- and landscapes of the french riviera – all a-mix with the new -taste- sensation of french caffeine!
<<un cafe, s’il vous plait.>>
this phrase might be in the same chapter one as <<bonjour, je m’appelle _______.>> it is elementary.
“hello, my name is tamar! coffee, please.”
in hyeres, i found out just how rich a coffee high could be. it was mood altering. other people noticed.
that next semester, the fall of 2003, i have a memory of walking across campus holding a very large cup of coffee [nothing like the demi-tasse, slow-sipping-dark-thick beverage of the summer], determined to “get high”. i wanted that insane, stuporish dip & dive, but… as with all addictions, there had already been a shift. the first pleasures had come and gone – the virginal arrival in the blood stream had been pissed away – the summer was over & campus coffee, it seemed, had been over before it had started.
i’ve been a coffee-pretty-much-everyday kind of girl for some time now… discovered a broad array of caffeine sensations – from the difference between my favorite local cafes to the difference between pepsi and coke. i have learned some interesting facts about my natural chemical reaction to these caffeine sources – that i have become intolerant in recent years, for example, to coca cola crashes in the form of serious short temperedness; that i absolutely cannot drink coffee after 3pm if i intend to be able to fall asleep without an extended period of racing thoughts.
the thing is, i never really put it together until this week that even my morning cup of coffee could be the source of my tendency to have painfuly light sleep…
could it be?