At my parents’ house, there is an unspoken daily routine. One that brings a teenager from his afternoon nap, a college student away from studying in her room, and any visiting family members and friends (babies and children included) out into the kitchen. Like clockwork, between four-thirty and five in the afternoon, favorite mugs are removed from shelves (in the winter) and icy cold pint glasses from the freezer (in the winter). The scent of coffee is in the air, bringing the promise of rejuvenation. For my mother, the one and only tea drinker (earl grey, and make it strong), the kettle whistles. My mother, perhaps trying to be British, announces “tea time.” My father grumbles as he shakes the half and half; “we’re almost out,” he notes, not for the first (or last) time that week. My sisters and I dance about, trying to find each and every morsel of chocolate and baked goods in the kitchen. My mom asks for one, just one, small piece of chocolate. Us girls tease her, wondering how one could have such self- control when it comes to sweets. My brother makes an entrance, coming in the sliding glass door, throwing all his towering strength into opening and closing the door, which, under his force, makes more noise than it has any right to. We pour the blackest of black coffees into our cups, splash the cream into the coffee, and add some sweetness with a spoon of brown sugar. Then, there is the beautiful noise of spoons clinking against glasses and mugs, as we stir our brew into our idea of perfection. The clinking is followed by the unpalatable sound of slurping, and satisfied sighs and exclamations to the coffee gods. Typically, after opening my eyes (which are inevitably closed after my first sip), I exclaim; “coffee is the best thing in the world.” Then, many of us gather, with books and magazines (and occasionally, a laptop or Kindle), and read, drink coffee, and pause to share a line from what we are reading, a story from the day, or simply, to comment on the family dog (when both my sisters and myself are home, I must admit, our obsession for the dog is at its worst, so our contributions are typically of the latter variety). So, join me for a cup of coffee, I’m so far from home, and I could use some company, even if it is of the virtual variety. Today I’m enjoying iced coffee, in a pint glass, with half and half and brown sugar.