Cafe Busted

I give to you a tale of coffee, heartbreak, and healing:

We had a love that started fast and brought the promise of forever – She was a twin flame, a magnificent mirror. To this day, I’ll tell you – that’s still true. We understand each other profoundly – we just can’t tolerate each other.

Spontaneous combustion happens when the right molecules run into each other under the right happenstance. The problem with spontaneous combustion is not just the unplanned consequences of the blaze, but that it’s impossible to sustain; because it wasn’t started intentionally, there’s no fuel prepared nearby to sustain the warmth of the fire. It simply erupts, consumes everything in it’s path, and dies out as fast as it began.  Nevertheless, the flames of such a fire can be pretty convincing.  Such was our brief blaze.

Before long, I was staying most nights in her bed, down the hall from her three teenage kids. The kids quickly gave their blessing of our sponaneous union; one of those first mornings we woke to find that her daughter had made us coffee and brought it to us in bed;  one of her sons would repeat that heart melting gesture some time later.

Coffee became a morning sacrament – we would wake early every day; she would get in the shower and I would start the coffee. She would emerge from the shower to find a breakfast of coffee and toast waiting on the bathroom counter. It was one of the rituals I invoked to show her my adoration. We left our old coffee ways behind and found a brand that we loved together – a rich cuban coffee called Cafe Bustelo.  If you look at the can from a certain angle, the font can be mis-read to say “Cafe Busted”. This coffee became a calling card of our relationship.

Lucky in love, conscious of the poor odds of success, and anxious to defy the world by telling everyone about it,  we set out to create an online memoir – a “how to” for other couples to follow: :  “An impossibly single bachelorette meets an incurable bachelor. Tales of dating, blended families, and a new take on love”.  This is a graphic I made up to serve as the header image on our new blog:

From the notion of sharing our personal life, to our choice of names, the whole idea was adorable, if not staggeringly naive.  It invoked a principle of the Universe that I have come to understand more as I’ve become older: Every time I set myself up to be a teacher of a thing, the Universe has a way of giving me a test on that very subject that takes me to the edge of my sanity and shoves me toward the abyss.  I’ve learned that if I am going to challenge my tribe to do 10 pushups, I must be prepared to do 100. I will be forced to do 100, regardless of how well I prepared.

In the beginning of every act of creation, the idea is birthed from one’s mind into the world of three dimensions as The Word, be it written in an email or spoken to a friend.  Because The Word is the first and primal act of creation – The Word is God.


Our love was explosive, and as all good explosions do, it laid waste to both of our hearts. After many months of exhillirating togetherness, moments of truth brought our love affair to a screeching halt.  Sometimes doing the right thing is still heart breaking, rightness be damned.

After our split, my weekly walk down the grocery store coffee isle became an open casket funeral viewing for a loved one that just wouldn’t end. Has the coffee isle ever made you cry? Yeah, me either…. and that’s because I learned to get the hell out of there ASAP. This hot beverage PTSD continued for about as many months as we were together: the better part of a year.

I spent those first many months drinking cheap, generic coffee; I didn’t mean to be symbolic about it, but in hindsight I can see that it wasn’t really the $3 per bag difference in price that was motivating my coffeee choice.  That dry, shitty coffee was a mediation of sorts. After a while I allowed myself to graduate up to something truly delicious, a new brand devoid of the emotional fingerprints of any lover.  It’s *really good* coffee, and it invokes mornings of happy solitude, journaling, meditation and creation.  It’s all mine.

So here we are, one year and two days after she and I parted ways. While restocking on staples at the grocery store last night, my regular brand was out of stock. Cafe Bustelo sat on the shelf, stoically staring forward, trying not to make eye contact with me.  The yellow and red of the can no longer elicited pain in my heart. In the name of curiosity and science, I picked up a can of Bustelo.

I was okay

…bought it.

I was okay

…brought it home

I was okay

…brewed Bustello for breakfast today

I was okay

…like the way you sit in the theater and read every last scrolling credit for a movie that affected you deeply but will never watch again, I drank the coffee.

And not only was I okay,

much to my surprise and relief,

I found it

to be




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