I was born in Nebraska and moved to Wisconsin when I was only twenty months old. I’ve lived here ever since. And yet, I still consider Nebraska home. My grandparents live in Nebraska, and so while I love the Huskers and love the city of Lincoln and love the wide open spaces, they are the real reason the state is so special to me. They are the reason I keep making pilgrimages back.
We’ve had great times over the years—watching the Huskers in Memorial Stadium and grabbing burgers at Don & Millie’s afterwards, or laughing at reruns of The Andy Griffith Show or All in the Family, or delivering newspapers before dawn or on cold afternoons (and sometimes having them thrown back at us), or playing rummy, or just sitting around a gourmet-quality dinner. (Even being attacked by geese at Holmes Park evokes a smile now.) Somewhere along the line, “coffee time” came into being. Late in the afternoon, we’d make a pot of coffee (or hot chocolate for those who didn’t imbibe) and sit down to drink, snack on donuts, and relax.
It’s not just about the coffee. Well, maybe for some of us it is. It’s about the conversations. It’s about the laughs. It’s about sitting around the kitchen table, while the afternoon light filters through the giant ash tree outside my grandparent’s window, just enjoying Grandpa and Grandma’s company.
As the years have passed, we’ve remained around the table—around meals and around coffee time—a little more. A post-breakfast coffee can linger into lunch, and afternoon coffee time bleeds into supper. We don’t necessarily “do” anything some days. We just are. As Archie Bunker would say, we enjoy some time “in the bosom of our family.”
It can be dangerous. A hot mouthful of coffee can come flying out of your mouth, spurt from your nose, or get swallowed in an accidental gulp when Grandpa cracks a funny or Grandma issues a clever retort. And if the extended family comes over, batten down the hatches. I’ve never laughed as hard as I do around my Nebraska family; I laugh more in a week with them than a year at home. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good laugh with loved ones, which is why I’m driving nine hours to go have some coffee.
But that’s not the only reason. Life’s uncertain. I don’t know how many more trips I’ll get to make to Nebraska. Or anywhere, for that matter. I don’t know what the future will be for me and my loved ones. So I’m taking every opportunity. I’m making the most of every moment. I’m talking and laughing and enjoying every second of just being with my family.
Yes, I’m driving to Nebraska for a cup of coffee. And for so much more.