It isn’t much to look at, but I love it nonetheless. I reach for it in the morning when the house is quiet and the day is new. It is with me during the short time I have to think clearly and when my spirit is at rest.
The simple blue coffee mug that has been with me for more than a decade used to belong to my parents. I don’t know if I stole it, which is a possibility because I have always loved it, or if I accidentally ended up with it after a family camping trip. Like an old friend, the way we came together almost doesn’t matter. The mug is mine now, and it will forever be.
My parents were always funny about mugs. They had their favorites, and when I was serving coffee, I would instinctively grab the right one for each recipient. Dad liked one with a generous handle to fit his large hands, and Mom preferred one that didn’t have a curved lip. Both had favorite patterns within these categories, and it always made me smile that Dad’s favorite mug was the floral pattern that matched their dishes. He always said his style was “Antique Hotel,” and the horrifyingly bold floral carpet he had installed in their living room verified this claim.
It’s no surprise that when I’m at someone else’s house, I have a difficult, if not impossible, time choosing my coffee mug in the morning. I have to look at all of the pictures and sayings. I have to hold the mug in my hand. Does the grip feel right? Is the mug too heavy? Does it have a holiday theme, and how close are we to that holiday?
How folks can just open a cupboard and grab a random mug is beyond me. This is a big decision, and I’m certain that the mug used impacts the coffee itself. Drinking coffee is an experience, and the wrong mug can ruin that. Similarly, the right coffee mug is everything. The way the steam snakes its way out of the top, the way the mug feels when it’s held with both hands, and the memories associated with whatever pattern or sentiment is emboldened on the cup warms me from the inside.
On paper, my beloved mug doesn’t shine. It holds less dark, inky beverage than its associates in my cupboard, and I have mugs with images of my children or clever sayings that are much more visually exciting than my basic blue mug.
Love is like that, though. You think you have a type, and you spend a few misguided years enamored by gigantic, swimming-pool-sized mugs inspired by the gang at Central Perk, or Garfield mugs that say, “It’s been one of those days all week,” but while you’re looking for the shiniest and most clever mug, you find yourself drawn to the beautiful blue mug that will stay with you always. The mug that won’t crack or fade in 20 years of use. The mug that keeps your coffee warm, and in those years when your kids are young and your coffee needs to be reheated in the microwave 17 times a day, it won’t get so hot it burns your lips clean off even though your coffee is still lukewarm.
I know that one of the reasons I still love my blue mug so dearly is because my dad is gone. I know that it reminds me of the house I grew up in, of spending time with the two people who most impacted who I am today. I know that despite many things changing, most for the better, some heartbreakingly sad, that holding on to tangible items is normal and natural. Life can bring what it will, and while I’ll never be able to shake the shame of loving a Garfield mug, I still have my blue mug and the memories that it holds.