Listening to the rumbling of my electric tea kettle, I am reminded of an amazing long weekend I spent with a group of women I’ve been friends with since childhood. The seven of us piled into a hotel suite with two bedrooms, a pull-out couch, and an almost fully-stocked kitchen. What the kitchen lacked was a tea kettle, something I didn’t notice until someone suggested making some of the herbal tea we’d just purchased at the grocery store.
I wasn’t on the tea committee and when I ambled back past the kitchen, I saw a woman I met in first grade stirring a soup pot with seven tea bag strings hanging over the edge.
Should I make tea now for a group of people, I defer to my electric kettle, a pile of mugs, each with a specific-to-the-person tea bag hanging over the rim. And sometimes, when making tea just for myself, I think about how beautiful it was to see seven strings and seven empty mugs… to know that in a moment we were all to experience something beautiful and identical together.
Upon deciding to write about the tea bags, I opened a new tab to see if Facebook could show me what year that trip was. It did me one better. The first thing on my timeline was “4 years ago today…” It was a picture from that trip. How perfectly unexpected to be thinking of stovetop tea four years to the day. Another tally for exceptionally precious moments.
Hours later, taking the steps down two at a time with a trash bag thudding against my shin, I thought about coming back to finish the blog about the tea and other precious things. I was thinking of other examples of beautiful moments that have invoked a similar “stovetop tea feeling” when I noticed a sign on a second floor door that wasn’t there the day before. “WELCOME HOME!” it spelled out with the kind of whimsy that surely must be attributed to a young child. We live in an abundance of exceptionally precious moments, I fear.
At the risk of sounding like I’m the protagonist at the end of a high school coming-of-age film, opening their college essay with a “dictionary defined” word, I found myself curious as to my word choice for this piece. Precious? Why not “things that made me happy” or “joyful memories” or “good old nostalgia moments.”
But precious is defined as “of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly.”
As I’ve gotten older and settled into myself, I’m realizing how sincerely precious these memories are. They are of great value. I don’t want to waste them or treat them carelessly. I want to be able to look at what I was gifted—in this case, lifelong friendships that transcend state lines and life changes and this thing we call “growing up.”
To lose touch is the simplest thing in the world. Simplest and in some cases most forgivable. But the more life changes, the more precious these grounding memories with good friends become.
When things feel at their most unmanageable and complex, perhaps that is when we need, more than ever, to share a mug of tea with someone who knows our stories. Who trust our hearts. Who makes every day feel completely and irrevocably precious.