I hate pumpkin spice lattes. I hate the way they taste, and I especially hate that they show up every year on the Tuesday after Labor Day. I mean, I’m just not ready to let go of Summer yet. And I live in California, where Summer is certainly not over, and the three to four weeks after Labor Day are, in fact, the hottest, most humid of the year. I know I’m not done with sunburns, beach runs, and extra-large iced coffees yet, so please, keep your pumpkin spice items away from me until at least mid-October.
I admit that I like pumpkin baked goods. But, back to the lattes – I hate ‘em. I know I hate them. I’ve hated them since college, when I had my first pumpkin spice latte. I took my first sip as I exited the coffee shop and, in the same breath, dropped the entire paper cup full of offensive milky pumpkin coffee into the nearest trash can. It happened that fast. I hated it immediately.
But here’s where it gets weird.
Every year, around mid-October, when I’m ready for slouchy sweaters and slouchier boots, when I’m ready for it to be Fall, I go out and get a pumpkin spice latte. And, every year, I still hate it. I’m older now, and more mature, so I’m less prone to literally throwing out four dollars. Thus, I force myself to drink at least half the cup. Worst half a coffee of the year, every year.
Why do I keep doing this? And, here’s where things get important: I don’t just do this with lattes. I will give everything and everyone an annual opportunity to disappoint me.
I can count on (WAY) less than one hand the amount of people who I FINALLY realized were consistently disappointing and resolved to 100% eliminate from my life. It took a lot of time and a lot of soul-searching to get there in every single case. This is apparently not what happens with lattes or anyone else so far. As the humidity clears and the days get short, the latte gets forgiven.
I think forgiveness is a powerful thing. To truly forgive is one of the hardest things we can ever do. It’s a lovely gift, but I think it is more of a benefit to the foregiver than the person being forgiven. Forgiveness lifts a weight off of us, makes us free to love and live openly. So, yeah, Self, forgive the latte. But don’t be so naive. You know how trying that latte again is going to turn out.
I want to be able to say, hey, Pumpkin Spice Latte, I’m over it, but I’m not going to let you waste my money just because you’re seasonally appropriate again. Or, hey, Old Friend, I wish you all the best, but I’m not going to sit through another conversation with you where you spend the entire part where I’m talking not listening and waiting to tell your own story just because you sent me a card in the mail. Or, hey, Old Love, I appreciate all the warm memories we have together, but I’m not going to go through another sad break-up just because we miss each other right now. Or, hey, Old Attractive Boy I Went On Several Useless Dates With, I hope you find someone, but I’m not going to waste my time having dinner with you and listening to your bands newest (not great) song only to have to awkwardly car-hug you at the end of the night because oh, God, I refuse to invite you inside just because you still have really pretty eyes.
Why can’t it be that easy? Why am I regularly seduced by the crisp air and the orange-colored, Autumn leaf-adorned signage at Starbucks? Why can’t I just go in there and order what I actually want? Why do I insist upon spending time hoping for things I don’t even like? There’s a psychology behind this about me that I don’t understand.
But I think it has something to do with hope.