For as long as I can remember, all of the trials, tribulations, worries and conundrums that I have ever encountered, be they my own or brought to me by the people I love, have been mulled over at great length over endless cups of tea.
I have no doubt that this habit developed in me because of my family's fiercely English background. Hell, as soon as we opened our eyes in the house that I grew up in, SOMEONE always appeared next to us, offering us a steaming mug. Upon re-entering the house after being away, whether we had just come from the corner store or half way around the globe, the kettle was plugged in even before the lights were turned on. Tea was paramount, it was the elixir of life of my childhood.
When I left home to attend one of the largest and most notoriously "unfriendly" universities in the country, I quickly learned to make friends by sharing tea with other students. We quaffed enormous quantities of the stuff, and tried all kinds of different varieties... It got us through the pressure-cooker of stress produced by essay deadlines and exams, and brought us together to share our challenges. Often, my friends and I were just too exhausted to even SPEAK... the simple act of walking into one another's rooms unannounced, bearing two extra-large teacups, was the Ultimate Gesture, and the wide-eyed, terrified STARE brought on by writer's block said far more than words could ever articulate.
My long-time (long-suffering) room-mate gave me my Big Red Teapot on the occasion of my twenty-first birthday. This teapot has been with me for nearly twenty years, now, carefully carried from apartment after apartment, and then house after house. It is sitting and steeping a pot of Bewley's Irish Breakfast right now, on my kitchen counter. That sight is the ultimate symbol of comfort to me. Some people may find it in their mother's eyes, but I find heaven in that little whiff of steam that escapes the Big Red Teapot's spout, when I'm just about ready to pour.
My friends and family and I have sat around my teapot and discussed just about everything you can imagine. I have planned weddings and baby showers and anniversary parties... I've nursed everything from the flu to post-partum depression to cancer... I've discussed many heartaches, wept over losses and break-ups, miscarriages and deaths. All around this big red piece of porcelain.
Last night, the teapot and I worked overtime. I was up half the night, worried and heart-sick with news I had just received by telephone. Immediately after hanging up the phone, it was my teapot I turned to for comfort. It took many, many cups of (decaf!!) tea, but in the wee hours, I was finally able to wrestle my own emotional reaction into submission, and concede that the news I received is truly "for the best". After a long night, I can look in the mirror and honestly say that I am still a happy person, and I can handle whatever the future throws my way.
Even though everyone else in the house was fast asleep last night, I wasn't alone. In truth, I never WILL be alone. So long as The Big Red Teapot is working with me...