I had no idea what I was ordering.
Alone at Charles de Gaulle, I just accomplished my first over-seas flight and was awaiting my traveling partners.
Burning eyes, jet-lagged and exhilarated, I walked into an airport café and felt the utmost independence. The only thing I knew to order was coffee, but how?In my mind it sounded okay, so “un café” it was.
I didn’t speak French, my sister only gave me a few phrases to remember before I left. “Je ne parle pas français,” being the one I took to heart.
So I had no idea what was being ordered, but I did know “café” to be slightly universal.
At 22, I still wasn’t a coffee connoisseur. All I knew of coffee was what my grandparents made at their house and what I had consumed to fuel late night study sessions. None of this coffee was extraordinary and I never enjoyed drinking it.
Alas, I felt that caffeine was what I needed to fuel my upcoming European adventure and to stay awake. Now safely in France, I was in the mood to celebrate. I had just overcome the fear of flight and was about to embarke on a European getaway with my sister — did I mention she was bringing her high school French students along too?
“See you in Paris,” she said as I was dropped off at Houston Hobby. I smiled, waved and felt sick to my stomach.
I boarded a plane, numbing myself to the fear that bubbled up inside. Thankfully, the kind woman sitting next to me didn’t mind me grabbing her hands on occasion when the plane hit pockets of turbulence (I cringe to this day thinking about it… I was THAT passenger).
Choosing the unknown.
Overcoming fear.“Un café” was placed on a single round metal table in a small espresso cup. Tiny silver spoon included. I looked down, saw the dark elixir and knew there was only one thing to do. Drink.
I drank it. No sugar. No cream. Just black.
It was hard not to shutter, but the bitter flavor was exhilarating. The warmth eased my tension of being alone in Europe.
I sat back in that cold metal chair. Opened a book and pretended to read.
Paris, I’m here.