So it’s Day 3 of NaBloPoMo, and I’m still sick. I’m sitting here, fresh from my extra hour of sleep, enjoying my morning cup of tea. I’ve added some honey today for the whole sore throat thing. And I began wondering at what point I switched my caffeine ritual from coffee to tea. Coffee is so American, so energetic, so “up and at ’em”. Tea is so British, so calming, so refined. I am anything but refined.
My love of tea began in high school. I had a dear friend, Eve, several years older than I was. An actual adult. We became friends through her younger sister-in-law, who attended my high school. I babysat her children. We would chat at the end of the evening of babysitting, and I would visit her home with her sister-in-law. Eve was the “cool” adult, more like a big sister than anything else. It was an unlikely friendship, but it worked.
Eve was someone to whom I could tell all those problems that I couldn’t talk about with my mother. And get some actual world-tested advice from someone who had “been there, done that”. Someone who was not my parent. That was an important distinction.
Whenever I would call Eve with an earth-shattering teen-aged problem, she would say, “Come on over and I’ll make you a cup of tea.” We would sit together and sip Earl Grey and I would bare my soul. And sure enough, Eve had the right words to get me through whatever the crisis of the day was.
This was our pattern and it helped us both through many of life’s awful events.
She made me a cup of tea when my boyfriend was drinking too heavily and I did not know what to do to help him.
I made her a cup of tea when her boyfriend was mistreating her and she needed a nonjudgmental shoulder to cry on.
She made me many, many cups of tea when that same alcoholic boyfriend drove himself into a tree and died, breaking my heart to pieces.
I made her many, many cups of tea the fateful Mother’s Day when her mother passed away.
To this day, when I am sad or under stress, I make myself a hot cup of tea and part of me always feels better.
Over the years, our lives moved apart. The busy-ness of family life took over. Somehow we lost touch. I tried very hard to stay in contact, but Eve just stopped returning my calls. She moved to a new house, and even my Christmas cards started getting returned. I was hurt, to say the least. This woman was my “sister”. She was the best friend I had ever had. And losing her left a hole in my heart. These past few years, I could really have used a cup of tea, a shoulder to cry on. I have needed my friend.
Just the other day, I got an email from her out of the blue. In it, she told me, “When people ask me who my best friend is, I always say you.” It was one of those days when I was very emotional for no real reason. One of those weepy days. When I read that sentence, I burst into tears…happy tears…and it was like the last few years had never happened. When people ask me who MY best friend is, I always say Eve. Even though I haven’t seen her in years. We’re going to be getting together soon to catch up. I can’t wait.
I’ll put the kettle on, and make her a cup of tea.