in which i have feelings about tea and people who think i’m going to fix them with my friendship

all this from a cup of tea

i. i have a mug i use exclusively for tea
with a purple-blue interior
a white-washed exterior
and a butterfly pressed into the surface
blue glaze pooling in the depressions

ii. when we first became friends your room was a blank space
a tabula rasa that matched you post forced-emancipation
you could not fathom how to make it a home
i became a professor of nesting 101
encouraging throw pillows and decoration
and yet you still felt alone and unhappy
in your basement with your frozen meals
your fear of making friends

we often spoke about how sad you were
i gave you the gift of my mother’s wisdom
for dealing with sadness
you were grateful for the lesson
but you never really passed step one
(you never were good at admitting you needed to cry)

iii. it was then that i taught you about making tea
how, somehow, making yourself tea is an accomplishment
on days when you desperately need them
it’s an act of self-care
a way of giving yourself a hug and a kiss
when there is no one else around
how enthusiastic you were!
overnight, you became a connoisseur
as best you could with a microwave, anyway

iv. for christmas:
an electric kettle
a classic white teapot
loose-leaf teabags
a steeper ball

you were overwhelmed.

v. for christmas next year:
mugs for all of us, with love from my mother
mine, a great hulking thing, big enough to drown my homesickness
andrew’s, a stately dark blue that fits nicely in the hand
yours, dainty, purple-blue and white, with a butterfly in blue

vi. when you moved out you left a lot of things in the kitchen
we put them all to the side for you to pick up the next time you came by
you were downsizing, we understood
but you left the teapot
the teabags
and the mug my mother bought you

that’s when i knew we would never be friends again, not really

vii. friday you came to my office to ask me for a teabag because you were feeling sick
i gave you the peppermint i had on my desk
but did not offer you the vanilla rooibos in the drawer

viii. i am drinking jasmine tea this morning instead of coffee
using the mug my mother bought you
thinking how this would all be so less complicated if i could
get over the way i treated you
the way you treated my family

they are generous with their love and laughter
but you can’t force intimacy
no matter how badly you want it
and you can’t force familiarity –
even if you know all the stories by heart
knowing when to tell them is more important

ix. i don’t believe you understand the way families actually work
since they’re not all sunshine and comfort
(especially not mine, despite what you thought)
they’re tears and tough discussions about responsibilities
pressure to live up to your best self
not so much kisses on skinned knees as
admonishment for doing something stupid and a box of bandaids
the push to learn to fix yourself
(and you never did really want to fix yourself
you wanted someone to love you enough to fix you)

x. i don’t think i’ll ever forget what it was like
being your “best friend” and then, not
it taught me too many lessons about us both

xi. do not mistake someone with a teapot
for someone who will make their own tea

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October 17, 2018

These words reach some corner inside that I’d long forgotten about…thank you for the beautiful reminder.