On the afternoon of February 14th, my two friends and I deposited our bookbags in a warm stairwell. The stems of our pink and red carnations received that day peeked cheerily from our backpack zippers. The three of us walked briskly out of the school parking lot to visit the town’s village.
There is a sense of thrill and mischievousness when making these after-school trips. Students who plan to take the late bus are expected to wait in the building until the team of buses arrive at 3:45. We slip past these rules, feigning ignorance, and sneak off to the nearby village, a collection of stores nestled together. With a quick pace, we do our business and arrive back just in time to hop onto a late bus. Worst case-scenario: we miss the bus and would have to ask our parents to pick us up – who were unaware of our plans.
What we do there at the village is anti-climactic, considering all the risk we take. We disobey the school to visit our favorite fry shop; as we wait for our order, we admire the signed dollar bills that cover the walls and ceiling (wondering if, one day, our names and witty doodles will be up there as well), and then split the steaming box of fries amongst us. We weave through streams of traffic to buy a candy bar or a donut at the gas station. We once braved the cold to admire the Dairy’s pretty cow. Today, we were making a stop at a flower shop so Mern could buy a bouquet for her mother. After that would be Starbucks, where Kelly wanted to try a drink from their secret menu, and I wanted to try a different espresso.
I am a rather new fan of coffee, and I still felt nervous and unsure when I arrived at the counter. “Um – is there a deal for today?”
“Yes. There’s a buy-one-get-one-free sale for any espresso,” replied the nice cashier.
I asked Kelly what espresso she wanted — but she wanted a cold drink. I paused at the counter–blink, blink, blink–before ordering a small Mocha and Caramel Flan Latte.
When I had two cups of coffee warming my hands and took alternating sips of each sweet drink, a thought struck me : when I dreamed of being a big, independent teenager when I was younger, I dreamed of this. Running back to school to avoid getting caught. Laughing besides the best of friends while doing so. Taking adrenaline as a wine instead of an stimulant because the buzz puts us at ease. Being a teenager tastes like the flavors of two different coffees resting warmly on your tongue.