Please welcome guest blogger, my niece, Emma Weiss in her premier appearance here at Aileen Goes On. Emma wrote this in response to the following common app essay prompt.
Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
It took my breath away. Enjoy.
I think it’s the most refreshing in the winter. The door resists our pull, resulting in a whoosh of icy air as it finally gives and welcomes us into the warmth of the shop. We hear the familiar tinkle of the bell overhead and see familiar, easy faces smiling behind the counter. If we had to choose, I’d say my mother’s favorite barista is probably the bubbly Sophie, but I think my favorite is Max. He’s a little quieter, a little harder to read, but once you get to know him he’s an easy friend.
If it’s early enough in the day, I’ll order a mocha, maybe iced. (Black coffee scares me.) Most of the time, especially in the colder seasons, it’s the hot chocolate that I look forward to. Generally my mother will ask to run a tab so she can order more than once – sometimes it’s just a two-iced-tea kind of day. We might order a pastry, but she always reminds me under her breath that their scones aren’t as good as that one time I made the lemon cream scones for her birthday. I still think that their Nutella scone soaked for approximately five seconds in my hot chocolate is pretty hard to beat, though.
This is Spro, my favorite local coffee shop. I can count on one hand the times I’ve come here in the past three years without my mother. I’ve taken friends here, and sometimes I’ve come by myself, but it’s never the same without her bent over working across from me. We come here after the worst days, after the best days; after weeklong absences, after we were here yesterday; amidst tears of desperation and fatigue, amidst sighs of relief.
She grades, chatters about her newest teaching technique, enlists my help in planning lessons. I study, write college essays, dream about my future. She laughs aloud at the sarcastic Latin comics her students came up with; I look up from my biology textbook to tell her excitedly that the cells in our brain can message the cells in our toes. She reads books I’ve recommended to her; I read the literary magazine I finally was able to purchase from a shop down the block. She works her way through Sunday school lessons; I work my way through the queue of portraits I need to edit.
We get coffee (and hot chocolate) before my piano lesson every other Tuesday, a tradition evolving from the early days of picking up after elementary school and going straight for snacks before my brother and I had our lessons. We discuss things of huge consequence, interspersed with things that don’t really matter. We sit at our table, across from each other, together even if we don’t say anything at all.
It’s our coffee shop. It’s not that nearest Starbucks, full of busy baristas whipping out frappuccinos and getting you out of there as fast as you came in. It’s Spro, where you can watch the coffee slowly dripping through the “cold brew drip towers” in the back as you sip your English breakfast tea and listen to the warm chatter of the people sharing your experience. Time slows down, allowing for moments to settle like a blanket around you instead of their usual crashing presence. And even though we have come in from the winter chill, the first sip of milky foam at the top of my hot chocolate is a breath of fresh air.
Some people find it odd that I asked for a trip to New York with just my mother for my birthday. Some people don’t understand that I would rather spend time at my coffee shop than go to that party. But for me, our time at Spro is sacred. It is the core of our bond, the strength of our tie, an anchor that I will not for one second take for granted.
As of Fall 2015, Emma Weiss is a freshman at the University of Maryland. Emma loves biology, photography, and really good coffee. Also, she has a beloved aunt whom she regularly slaughters in Bananagrams.
Another excellent response to the same prompt:
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