I’m standing in line at Upper Crust Cakery in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts waiting to order another King Crimson tea for myself when I see Taylor Wroblewski walk in. She’s visibly cold and out of breath, but Wroblewski, a classmate, is nonetheless her usual chipper self. She tells me she is already several cups of coffee in, and she is ready for another. “There’s no such thing as too much caffeine,” she says, then orders a Mocha Kick Latte and a giant carrot cake cupcake, explaining she’s “trying to eat more vegetables.” Respectable logic.
Earlier in the day I received a text from Wroblewski confirming our coffee date. Her message reads, “I’ve been looking forward to lattes and good conversation all day!” I meant to reply with a “Me too” but lost track of time while preparing for our interview. My plan is to get to know pre-college Wroblewski. Like many of her current friends and peers, I know nothing about Wroblewski’s life before Nazareth. What I know is she is an effervescent, well-rounded, upright student leader who is made up of 90 percent coffee and seems to have it all figured out. Her best friend, Halle Cook, says Wroblewski is most like a peach. “Just because they're very sweet,” Cook says. “It's just a happy fruit and she’s a happy person.”
Wroblewski’s outfit suits the café’s décor - simple, neutral colors and impossibly sophisticated. Her baby-fine, glossy, brown hair is complemented by the diamond-colored earrings she wears nearly every day. The table we choose is pushed up against a black painted brick wall that matches Wroblewski’s sweater. She points out the couple at the table next to us went to high school with her, keeping her voice low but audible over the high-pitched whine of the espresso machine.
Our conversation about her high school life quickly evolves into a conversation about her personal growth over the years. Wroblewski, like many of us in high school, was always trying to find her niche. She was a floater, moving from friend group to friend group, searching for where she belonged. “I was not as outgoing in high school, by any means,” she says. “I feel like I was much more quiet…trying to figure out who I best fit in with and who I was.” She is clearly not that quiet person anymore. Instead, she is open and bubbly throughout our 30-minute conversation, hands constantly moving to emphasize her points and flashing a smile any orthodontist would be proud of. Her cheeks must be exhausted by the end of the day.
Wroblewski explains why her transformation was so drastic and continues to be something she strives to maintain. “It was about sophomore or junior year in college,” she says. “And that’s when I really realized I had this serious anxiety—not issue—but it was just present.” Wroblewski chooses her words carefully, avoiding words that give negative connotations to mental illness. Her self-assured mantra of “I’m just gonna be Taylor and that’s gonna be the best it can be,” is not meant to counteract her anxiety and depression. “I feel like I’m positive because I’m thankful for what I have. I’m not trying to compensate for the fact that I have anxiety and depression.”
We trailed off into banter about how brilliant the Mocha Kick Latte name is because “there’s a little kick of mocha at the end so it makes sense,” as Wroblewski so eloquently explained. During a later discussion about Wroblewski’s love of coffee, Cook points out how fitting it is. “It's interesting that that's the drink,” Cook says. “Because she's very motivated and very energetic partially because of all the coffee. But she's just like that as a person.” I realize how truly fitting the drink is when Cook takes a sip of her own Dunkin’ Donuts coffee across the table from me in a café at Nazareth. According to Cook, Wroblewski is the cause of Cook’s devotion to Dunkin’ Donuts.
I ask Wroblewski if there are still things about herself she tries to works, and then immediately apologize for asking such a loaded question. “That is a loaded question,” she says. “That’s like loaded mashed potatoes.” I’m convinced she can make anything into a food analogy. Her answer, though, is nothing short of perfect. “I think I always try to be a better person today than I was yesterday,” she explains. “[I]f I can be a better person today than I was yesterday, I'll count that as a successful day … That's a good way to sum that up.”