Dear Pumpkin Spice, It’s Over…
Dear Pumpkin Spice,
I remember first meeting you in a jittery coffee shop in the Ka’ahumanu Mall. It was the fall of 1997, I was 15 years old and in the first blush of my love affair with coffee. Scratched on the chalkboard under a header bearing the legend of “Holiday Treats” was something called a “Pumpkin Spice Latte.” Pumpkin pie and coffee in one? Be still my over caffeinated teenaged heart! I took my first sip of you, my tongue thick with sugar and spice and some other things nice, and I knew my love for you was true.
Following that first sugary kiss, I spent the next chunk of years deeply anticipating the return of Pumpkin Spice season. September ceased to be the start of the school year, it was instead the building drum roll to what would become a sweet reunion with you. During those chilly months we got close. We saw each other almost every day. I loved your bouffant of whipped cream. I started calling you PS, as a cute little nickname. Small, medium or large you were always the perfect size for me.
The years swelled and over time, as so commonly happens, a distinct rift began to grow between you and I, my dear PS. There was no animosity, I just drifted further away from buying fancy coffee drinks every day. I was saving money. You understood this when we would finally reconvene. The richly scented steam that rose from your lid let me know that it was fine, you were even as I had left you: a seasonal sweetie, awaiting my eminent return to your pumpkin shores.
I hadn’t spent time with you in a few years – the months fly by and I kept missing your all-to-brief appearances. So, knowing it was high time that we caught up, I put on a jaunty flannel shirt and some boots, ready to imbibe some seasonal catching up with you, my old friend.
I walked into a small café. Clunky couches loitering in the corners and on the specials board in bold script it said “PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES ARE BACK!!!” I was giddy at the anticipation of our reunion. The barista gave me a look that clearly said “yuck” as I ordered my drink. I took a moment to think the worst of him as I waited patiently for you. The first sip was a trip down a flavor memory lane – crisp air, Carolina blue skies, and that taste. That. Taste…
Pumpkin Spice, you know as well as I do that I am no longer a teenager. While I have not mended all of my ways, some of my tastes have changed. However, in this instance, I don’t know if it is you that is different, or me. Once you were the sweetest prince. A nod to the approaching winter season. Those first few sips and tried to talk myself back to that mall in 1997 when we first met. Try as I did I could not go back there. The thick coating on my tongue made me want to shave it. The all-encompassing sweetness made me want to set myself on fire. How could it be that what I once though was a robust pumpkin flavor tasted nothing like any pumpkin I have ever known. But it was ultimately the bustling flock of Corporate Cathys cooing over how much they loved you, how happy they were to see you again made me realize we had both gone to places we could never come back from.
Pumpkin Spice, it’s over. If you see me on the street, we don’t have to pretend we know one another. I will spend the rest of my life trying to wrap my head around the monumental place you held in my young life. But if it is any consolation, know that loving you as a child made me truly value my relationship with Black Coffee as an adult.