Morning coffee.

There are some neighborhoods in the city that seem to be always crowded with people, swarming and bustling with activity. These are the neighborhoods that fill you full of life and energy on days when you need a jolt, when you need to be surrounded by the hubbub, the bustle of the city.

Early in the morning, however, when the majority of city dwellers are still snug under the covers, these neighborhoods are empty, barren, quiet. They are places of serenity, of peace, of imagination. I fill in the crowds with the sketches of strangers in my head, and make the neighborhood completely and entirely my own.

The ritual of the morning coffee, for me, is just that: a ritual. I donā€™t need coffee to wake me up, or to lift my spirits or awareness. (In fact, I like a nice espresso before going to bed for the night.) I drink coffee because I enjoy the taste of a good cup, the barely-noticeable bitterness hidden under bold flavors that coat the inside of my mouth at each sip.

Many mornings, I get coffee with friends, or colleagues, or on my own. In each case, I am not getting the cup because I need it, but because I enjoy it: I enjoy the social interaction with my friends and colleagues, the banter I have with the baristas that know my name and are often looking for an early-morning conversation. The caffeine does not feed the addiction; it is the sociality, the communication that I crave.