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I was raised to believe that drinking coffee was a sin. No one in my family touched the black liquid; to bring coffee into my home would have been sufficient to spark a small war. Having never been exposed to coffee, the very smell was enough to make me feel queasy. Even after leaving the church, I stayed away from drinking coffee. Sometimes, when I was cramming for exams and needed the caffeine, I would drink large cups of badly brewed coffee, which was sufficient to convince me that coffee wasn’t anything to get excited about. If I needed the caffeine, I stuck with my standard Diet Coke.
And then I met a boy. I was at a party when I struck up a conversation with a grad student in engineering. He was funny and smart and we talked for hours as the party slowly died down around us. He gave me his number and I resolved to call him again. Which I did. I called him, we talked, and we decided to meet for a coffee. He picked me up after work and took me to his favorite coffee-shop.
This was not just any coffee shop. This was a special coffee shop, with some of the highest standards in the industry. The beans are ethically sourced and roasted locally by a master with years of experience. The coffee is then prepared by baristas that have gone through months of rigorous training in order to pull a single shot. The result is an espresso that is rich and earthy, with a beautiful caramel crema.
We talked for hours as I savored my coffee. My horizons opened up, both by this new realization of the art of coffee as well as my conversation with a man who was raised by a single mother in India. He told me about the trials of growing up in a highly orthodox Brahmin family while I told him about the trials of growing up in a highly conservative Mormon family. We discovered a commonality in our experience that transcended cultural barriers. Here was another person who had challenged his up-bringing and in so doing, had become more open-minded, more tolerant, more aware of humanity in all its glorious diversity. I sensed I was on the verge of something spectacular.
Six years later and I find myself married to the same man that introduced me to good coffee. There have been challenges of the sort that are inherent when two stubborn, strong-willed people from two very different cultures choose to get married. But in-between these struggles have been a lot of good times. We have shared a lot of laughter and had a lot of conversations that have challenged my view of the world around me. I have a partner that makes me laugh, that reminds me to stop taking life so seriously, whose smile lights up the room. More than that, I have a partner who understands the trials of walking a different path in life.
Rachel Velamur is the author of the blog "A Post-Mormon Life", where she writes about the experience of being raised in a strict Mormon family but making the decision to leave in order to forge her own p