Michelle Gozdanker, Northwestern '22 - Chats
An Ode to My Father and Subsequent Coffee Addiction
By Michelle Gozdanker, Northwestern '22, 06/10/2020
“A cappuccino, please. Extra foam. And a biscotti.” When I was 5 years old, the highest place on Earth was dad’s shoulders. The view from up there consisted of two things: a coffee in one hand and a chocolate-chip biscotti in the other. There seemed to be a perfect balance. My father. Me. Coffee and a biscotti.
The first time I tried coffee, I was disgusted. It was bitter, hot, and overall displeasing. The foam, however? Delicious. And so the tradition began. My father would get a cappuccino, and I would get some foam. It wasn’t ever a separate cup of frothed milk, though. It was always the top layer of fluff that my dad never forgot to request in his order, no matter where we went.
When I was 10 years old, the highest place on Earth was not my father’s shoulders but was rather my ballet studio. I loved ballet, and my dad couldn’t be less interested in the art form. Despite his sustained disinterest, he drove me to every early morning rehearsal there was. And with us, came a carefully frothed cappuccino with the top layer of foam licked off and a half-eaten chocolate-chip biscotti.
When I was 17 years old, I became too heavy for my father’s shoulders. Suddenly, ACT prep books were the bane of my existence, friends were my free time, and food was just fuel to get through a busy day. But coffee tasted amazing. The not-so-foreign bitterness had morphed into a warmly welcomed fuel and the fluffy milk in my cappuccino was a much-needed comfort.
I’m 19 years old now and my father’s shoulders are almost always far away. Their qualities stand irremovable, however. The sturdiness that held up my body weight, the stability that kept me on higher ground, the strength that it took to hold me for hours, and even the weakness that resulted in a big jump down onto the ground. They all remind me of the same things coffee does. My father isn’t a gentle man, just as his double shot of espresso has never been. Nor does he lack energy, just like his frothy choice of drink. He is a simple man, no shenanigans. No added sugar, syrups, or flavors to mask the bitterness.
I may not sit on my father’s shoulders, or even be by his side, but his choice of coffee drives me every day. I never understood the point of coffee as a child. After all, why didn’t my dad just sleep more and he wouldn’t need it? Now that my highest ground is at the eye-level of my father, I realize so much from his incessant desire for a cappuccino. It was a social activity used to spend time with his children and friends. It was an energy boost from the late nights and traveling required by his work, in order to provide. It was enough extra foam that I could get a treat out of it and so could he. Most importantly, it was something that didn’t depend on a specific shop, country, state of mind, or any other situational factor. Every cappuccino I make and drink reminds me of who I am and where I come from, after all, I am my father’s daughter.