“I see you are addicted to Gingerbread Latte,” the barista said, passing me my third of the week.
“Yeah,” I replied lamely, “they are so good!”
The barista’s English is better than normal, but I don’t want to taint our simple exchange with vocabulary he won’t know, so I default to words like “good” and “delicious.”
“Yes, the Gingerbread latte is perfect for this weather,” he agreed.
While this was only a simple exchange, I have been turning it over in my mind for the past week or so, for a few different reasons. This short exchange exemplifies a lot of the contrasts between my current life in Jakarta, and my previous life in Michigan.
For example, the simple fact that I go to Starbucks three times a week demonstrates that a lot has changed in my life. When you live an elevator button away from a latte, it’s hard to not make it a habit. When you work for eleven hours (or more) a day, it makes it close to impossible. I would have never had the same routine in the states, consuming a four dollar beverage multiple times a week without a second thought. It’s part of my budget, which is completely ridiculous. And yet, there I am, dressed in my uniform at 5:00pm, buying a latte from one of the baristas who know my name and order so well that if someone trying to pick me up a drink incorrectly, they will insist upon the proper iced-coffee-soy-milk-three-pump-caramel combination.
It’s December, which means that that my friends and family send me a lot of weather related snapchats. My mom snapped a photo of the first snow in our backyard, a light dusting of white overtop the barn and pasture. From my sister, a snap of her in a cute scarf, and my friend Colleen’s photos frequently feature her in a knit cap. The holiday season is approaching and the weather reflects that change. But, why then is it normal for my barista to think that a piping hop gingerbread latte is a weather appropriate drink in Indonesia, where it is always somewhere around 85 degrees? Because, it’s officially rainy season, of course. Everybody break out your sweater—it’s four degrees cooler and rains on the daily. So, it’s obvious why hot coffee is a fitting festive beverage. (Mom, Dad, you didn’t know this, but you have been raising me to live in Indonesia. Hot coffee on a hot day seems (almost) normal because of your tutelage!)
My life has changed a lot in the past four months.