March 5, 2014

I Gave Up Mochas for Lent Once. Once. ~ Alicia Wozniak


Love will make us do foolish things.

I was raised “not Catholic.” I always wondered what being Catholic was like because my siblings and I were told we were Protestant and “not Catholic.” It was never explained to us what being “not Catholic” meant.

“Mom, what does Protestant mean?”

“It means we’re not Catholic.”

Man, if only Google existed in the late ’70s.

My family and I went to church for maybe Easter or perhaps Christmas. I knew nothing about religion and was confused at weddings—everyone replying all at once, me moving out of the way of folks going up for a blessing.

I do like going to church. I love the music! I’ve gone a number of times as an adult, but it isn’t a thing for me. I know God is with me always and probably facepalms a lot.

Anyway, a while back I was in a relationship with a man who was raised Catholic. Lent rolled around and he decided he’d give up Facebook for 40 days. Given that I was head over heels for him, I decided I’d give up something as well.

I love Starbucks mochas.

Grande in a venti with extra whip. Steamed milk, chocolate and espresso filtered through whipped cream… 

I have one practically every day—it’s my only vice. This was a big deal that I would give up my precious for 40 whole days. “My” Starbucks’ bottom line probably took a shot to the beans…

Day 1? Good.

Day 2? Not so much.

Severe headaches for nearly a week. I couldn’t really see for three days. It was bad. It hurt.

I am addicted to espresso levels of caffeine.

I didn’t give up coffee-coffee, but I don’t really drink coffee for the sake of coffee. I’ll drink it if I go out to breakfast, but I don’t make it at home. I didn’t give up pop (A.K.A.: soda), but I’d have had to consumed an entire case probably to make the megaheadache go away.

Things did improve after a few weeks as far as physical symptoms went, but breaking the habit? Oh boy.

“My” Starbucks is right on the corner in a shopping center exactly down the street from my house. There’s another one the opposite direction. They’re everywhere and much like when you get a new car you see your car everywhere, right?

My eyes found those green signs by scent.

I drove past “my” Starbucks every day after I dropped my daughter off at her before school program. My eyes would linger. My thoughts would drift, “Who would know?”

“God would know!”

What? What? Who was that? Who said that? I’m not even Catholic! What am I doing!? I want a mocha!

I kept driving.

Every day for 40 days I drove past and went home. I didn’t step foot into a Starbucks for 40 days. I thought about Starbucks every day for 40 days.

I think it may have actually been longer than 40 days… I looked back at the calendar and I thought Lent ended at Easter, but it appears Lent ends a few days before Easter. Goes to show what an awesome Catholic I am.

I’m not Catholic.

I did do some reading on Catholicism when I was dating my former person—it isn’t for me. I follow a Christian-Buddhist-Hindu vibe: I believe in the teachings of Jesus and a higher power (I call it God or the Universe), I try to be good to everyone and everything and if I screw up, I am so coming back. Maybe it’s a little off the path, but it works for me.

I felt pretty good about my Lenten commitment. I read up on the story behind Lent and I snarked, “Do you think Jesus looked to the heavens and said, ‘Dad, this sucks!'” No, he probably didn’t. Giving up something for 40 days, for me, sucked. However…

I got it.

I understood the sacrifice and felt great that I didn’t cave. I held fast to my commitment and I was happy I did.

Easter morning? “Baby, get up. Here’s your basket. Get dressed. I need a mocha!” No… I didn’t say that. Well, I did let her find her basket and eggs first, then we bolted to Starbucks and I jumped right back into my addiction.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: elephant journal archives

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