The coffee flows when the girl tribe gathers

The coffee flows when the girl tribe gathers

I can’t remember when it started, maybe time immemorial, Mom’s newly redecorated colonial kitchen where some now vintage coffee kettle percolated ground coffee until the rawness gave way to raw edge goodness.

Coffee klatch, get-together, sister night, coffee night.

Call it what you want. Last night my little house was bursting with energy and voices — the Sundheimer Girl Tribe had gathered around my table to break in our new house.

There’s never enough room for everyone to sit around the table, but we make room. Chairs are jostled and benches are gathered from every space in the house so we can all be in proximity of each other. The timbre of our voices rises and falls in harmony with each subject that gets raised. It’s a night of relaxation, catching up, a knowing that no matter what happens we all belong to this space.

There were sisters, nieces, grandnieces and more. Every single person with a spot in the line that my sister coined, “The Extension of the Tribe of Clyde,” belonged at this table. If Dad had anything, it was girls.

There’s a warmth knowing you belong. Everyone should feel they belong.

It doesn’t matter whose house we gather at. The feeling is the same. This time it was my house because I had moved. It’s been a while since we had a night like this, life sweeping us up and folding us under, the barrage of having things to do too much.

I tidied my garden and planted a few more pots to ready myself. My older sister told me my gardens looked awesome. I told her, “I think I needed to get older to know that I liked gardening.” I resisted it before but now lovingly tend what Mom passed on and add more to do it my way. For me, I need it tidy for folks to come over. It makes me feel ready.

I swept and mopped the floor, knowing it would be filled with beautiful crumbs when the night was over — crumbs that had fallen during our conversations on boyfriends, husbands, getting older, having babies, preparing for a wedding. Those crumbs are sacred to the space, and I smiled as I swept them around 11:30 at night. I mopped a few places with my steam mop where coffee had been spilled, a strawberry squashed. When I was done, I had a last cup of coffee from the carafe, still hot and satisfying as I took a last swallow.

My new island had been filled with life-giving plates of crackers and chicken salad, chili con queso, fruit salad, and cookies and bars galore. There was hummus and salsa, tightly rolled slices of deli ham plus cheese. I had a bunch of limes and stirred up some limonada, thirst-quenching goodness. My table was spread with an old lace tablecloth and some cut peonies and roses.

Simple. Good.

I love my family, and we vowed to do this more often, the younger gens determined to keep it going. As of the next morning, we had a date for the next coffee night in June. Wedding month for my son and almost daughter-in-law (I consider her that now), who we’ve enfolded into our family seamlessly, loved and added because before they were born they belonged.

This morning I sit on my porch and watch the cars go by as I type. And I reminisce on a night well spent. My niece said in our group chat that she “needed that more than she knew.” We all do. We all need a moment to sit amongst kin and remember.

Melissa Herrera is a published author and opinion columnist. She is a curator of vintage mugs and all things spooky, and her book, “TOÑO LIVES,” can be found at For inquiries, to purchase her book or anything else on your mind, email her at or find her in the thrift aisles.

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