As spring approaches in Cambridge, I’m switching over to (another) new workplace. My daily routine is shifting again, as the afternoon light grows stronger and the tulips poke up through the ground. But as I adjust to my new rhythm, I know I’ll be continuing my daily trips to Darwin’s. Because it’s delicious and homey and comforting. Because my blood, on some days, is about 20 percent spicy chai. Because I’m a regular. Recognized, welcomed, known. And it feels good.
To assess the secrets we now possessed, my sister and I dismantled every carefully hoarded collection of Cool Whip containers, Styrofoam meat dishes, “brand new” household appliances, and unworn lace. The things no one could use alongside the things someone might want to use. And then there were the things only she loved, the things that told her who she was and what kind of life she had cherished. Things that tell the story of who she thought she was.
Twenty years ago, I sat on a frozen wave knowing that at any moment it could break and I would drown. Nothing I could do would save me. Today, I am doing all the right things, and still the water could take over and change my life.
I am reading God for Us during Lent, and in today’s reading, Lauren Winner suggests that God is both a refuge from a storm and the storm itself. I wonder what Jesse would think of this metaphor if I were to ask him about it. I wonder what he thinks about my creating a story from the work he does. When he comes home, I hope to ask him.
Though it shook her, Una loved the book. In fact she turned around and read it again straight through. I wanted to ask about it, but tried to give her space. I wondered how she experienced the story; I wondered at the contours of her approach toward, and immersion in, this particular encounter—with the characters, the tragedy, and ultimately with her own mortality.
To take tea is to receive something; it is a gift of mindfulness, gentleness and grace. To partake in company is to merge with a great tradition of civilized communion, which has its version in nearly every culture on earth. Whether it’s matcha sipped reverently in a Japanese teahouse, smoky “Russian Caravan” steeped in a Moscow samovar, or mint tea poured from a standing position with a distinctly Moroccan flair, the allure of ritual remains. There’s something so affirming about connecting with the way things have always been done—or, at least the way they’ve been done for a long, long time.