Saturday, March 13, 2010


This morning, I broke a promise.

I made the vow at 8:20. But within 5 minutes, I hung my head in shame, although guilt swayed to the light side. I simply shrugged off my pledge and headed to California with 8 ounces of addiction—half decaf that I swore I would not touch until he returned with a handful of bagels.

California is the mug my son bought for me when he went to visit relatives with his father at the tender age of 6. His father and I hardly spoke at the time, so the fact that he allowed the boy to bring me a token touched me. And so the mug has stayed with me for the past 20 years. With Shamu on the outside and a twisting hairline crack inside, the mug reminds me of him—of the hurdles we cleared—whenever I select it from my mug anthology.

Why won’t I throw it away, this faded cup that could snap into two with one slight bag on the counter?

Probably for the same reason I won’t throw away the rest of them.

You see, I not only have a coffee problem.

I have mug issues as well.

Nearly every mug in my cabinet holds a special connotation, and while mugs may be given as a last-minute souvenir purchase, they remind me of certain junctures in my life.

California is clearly one of them. Knowing my child was leaving for several weeks with a man who I could barely face pushed my anxiety to its limits. Of course, he would be fine, but he would be beyond my grasp, my blanket of arms. Each one in my collection has a story, a moment, a hook that prevents me from parting with them.

So when I brew a pot of coffee each day, I find myself standing and swaying in front of the cupboard, deciding who will silently join me for the moment, to know that Life is Good, that I will return to the mountain for my tree, that California was long ago and even with cracks, I can always move forward.

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