[Filed under: manifestations of homesickness]
I have my curtains drawn all the way back to light my room as I work on my report today. The way the sun is shining into my room makes me crave Starbucks–not the drink itself, but the process.
I get my things together–my green purse, my swipe card, my iPod–and I head out into the Alpha Phi hallway, tugging the door shut behind me. It never latches without that extra second yank. I pause in the back hallway, remembering that I actually got a space in the front parking lot earlier that week. I do one last pat of all my pockets to make sure I have everything, panicking for a moment before realizing I put it all in my purse instead of my pockets.
As I walk through the dining room, a group of girls sits around eating bagels with strawberry cream cheese and recounting stories from their wild Thursday night while the hashers lay out the sandwich fillings for lunch that day. There aren’t any lights on in the entire dining room; the diffused light shining through the wall of french doors is plenty.
I head out to my car, get in, and start it. I make sure my newest favorite song is blasting before I pull out of the parking space. The air rushes through the rolled-down windows as I pass Grace, stop extra thoroughly for the police car parked at the corner, and head out past the business building, the chapel, Burns tower, and left onto Pacific Avenue. A man in a gaudily painted Cadillac eyes me at as second stop light just before the light turns green. He slams the gas and roars through the intersection. Unimpressed, I hit the gas as well and change into the right lane, already well behind his shrinking chrome bumper.
I pull into the massive mall parking lot and crane my neck, trying to figure out which aisle it is that I should turn down. I finally spot the correct one and drive a little too quickly to the very end, parking next to the cinderblock enclosure for some equipment I’m not allowed to touch. I toss my iPod, still on and tethered to my car’s auxilliary jack, onto the passenger’s seat. I’ll be fast, no need to hide it.
That damn fan blows my hair in front of my eyes as I walk inside, taking a deep breath of the coffee-saturated air and getting in line. I examine the options in the pastry case as I dig for my gold card and mentally rehearse my order.
“Hi, can I get a triple grande *skinny* *caramel* latte, no foam please?” My months of experience making this exact same order have taught me which modifiers are most misheard. Nothing would be more depressing than a vanilla latte or-god forbid- full fat on a sunny April afternoon like this one. “For Katherine.” I watch carefully as she swipes my gold card and the price drops by thirty cents–loyalty perk.
As I wait for my drink, I pretend to look interested in the selection of mugs and teas on display. They haven’t changed much since last time I was here, so instead of reading them, I organize them. I straighten out the handles and even out the rows. You’re welcome, Starbucks staff.
My name is called and I head over to pick up my grande triple no foam skinny caramel latte for… “Cathrine?” Seriously?
“Um,” I say, going on tiptoe to see over the counter and get the barista’s attention. “Can I have one of those plug thingies?” I mime putting the plug thingy into the drink to make my point clearer. “Thaaank you.” I grab my drink and shove through the heavy entrance, digging for my keys as I head back to my car. It’s going to be a long day of homework, but I’m well-armed and ready to go.