Sometimes all we need is a new perspective. I got one when I was 20 years old, living in Madrid, Spain for six months with a Spanish family and attending classes there.
I quickly fell in love with Madrid’s cafes scattered around 400-year-old plazas. I savored my bocadillos (delicious sandwiches) and espressos. There was just one problem, or so I thought: I could not find a cafe that sold coffee “para llevar” (in English, “to go.”).
The cafes made their customers sit and drink coffee at the cafe. Mind you, this was 15 years ago, and so no one had smart phones. People just sat, talked, and drank their espresso. How quaint.
Exasperated, I asked the señora of my host family where I could get coffee “para llevar.” She shot me a look of confusion, signaling to me that I must’ve butchered her native language.
I asked again, this time in very slow, deliberate, and perfect Spanish. The señora gave me the same quizzical look and asked, “para llevar a dónde?” (in English, “to go where?”).
I didn’t know where, I stammered. Just para llevar. No, the señora said, she didn't know of any coffee shop like that.
Thank goodness. For the remainder of my six moths in Spain, I sat and enjoyed my espresso — sometimes chatting with friends, sometimes reading a book, and sometimes just day dreaming. Coffee stops became a rejuvenating and relaxing break, not a brisk shot of caffeine on the go.
I’m sure Madrid now has plenty of cafes offering coffee para llevar. And that’s too bad.
But that doesn’t mean you or I need to get a cup to go. We can consciously choose to sit and drink up the peace and goodness of life.
Every morning, I have breakfast with my family, a cafe latte in my mug. It’s not always a peaceful breakfast — our kids may turn their bowls upside down or drop their milk on the floor to test gravity (and their parents’ patience!) — but at least we sit. We are a family.
Here’s to you and yours. Here’s to pausing to drink in the goodness of life.
Here’s to my señora who couldn’t imagine having a cup of coffee para llevar.