My first memory is made of coffee, fresh grass, and my father’s laughter. It happened when I was still in diapers, so I’ve often wondered if the memory is truly mine, or if it’s a story-told gift.
In those days, the sun was always up before I was. My mornings started with a giant hand slipping a bottle of linden tea under the mosquito net. Never milk, I hated milk, still despise it.
“Coffee,” I would say to my mother, after waddling into the kitchen.
“We need to brush your teeth first.”
“No.” I had nothing against hygiene, but the taste of toothpaste disgusted me. “Coffee!”
“Only if you brush your teeth.”
According to my mother, my wailing over the injustice of having to brush my teeth could be heard all the way to the moon. I’ve never believed her. You see, I’ve a great set of lungs (asthma be damned!). I’m sure that if I put my heart into it, even Pluto had to cover its dwarf ears.
The agony caused by losing another battle against tooth brushing torture would only last until my mother put a huge tin mug of cold coffee in my hands. I would hold the mug tight against my chest, and probably give her a nasty look, before walking out of the backdoor to find my father.
I had been the bringer of coffee for long enough that my feet knew exactly where to take me. Still, the journey was a perilous one. I had to dodge tall grasses and nosy chickens, and fight wicked cowboys who always did their best to try to take my father’s coffee from me. I kicked them and bit them, and if my father’s best friend is to be believed, I even shrieked some of my first unintelligible curses their way.
My father waited under the same tree, an old hat covering his face, his snores shaking the world and making me giggle. If I didn’t bring him his morning coffee, he would never wake up.
“Coffee, Papi!” I would say, poking his belly and handing over the mug.
He would sit me on his lap, saying, “That’s my little warrior,” making a big show of yawning, and pretending to sip from the cup (even when I had spilt most of the coffee all over myself).
The cowboys who worked with my father would come to tell him all about how they had fought me and I had beaten them. My father would laugh. They would pretend to be upset. And I would probably grin like a lunatic, my toddler thoughts high on coffee fumes and future battle plans..