"I learned to drink coffee by watching my mother. She used to sit on the corner counter in the kitchen every morning stirring and stirring it. She made instant—with milk and pills of Nutra Sweet that looked like aspirin. Her coffee was always the same color and always the same color as her cup—middle brown like toffee or caramel.
"I didn’t drink coffee then, but the smell of it was the smell of morning for the first eight years of my life and still is, in the same way roasting turkey is the smell of Christmas presents. I used to wake up on those mornings and hurry across the kitchen tile, cold against my bare feet, and curl up in a ball on the little mat in front of the heater just below her feet. It would blow warm air against my face, and I would inhale deeply the scent of heating ducts and instant coffee in the time before my brother and sister woke up. I stayed silent and curled up, watching her feet swing above me in fuzzy blue slippers and hearing the sound of coffee stirring over the cycles of the heater."