Chipped China

My 14 year old is doing the dishes and says, “Mom? Shouldn’t we throw this coffee mug away? It’s chipped.”

“I like the chip in it! It’s shaped like a heart! It’s a love mug!” I tell him. “Besides, that’s Karen & Lo’s mug, we can’t get rid of it.”

cup“Only you would see love in a chipped coffee mug,” he says with the authority of a first born child. “And… we’ve had this cup for how long? How does it still belong to someone else?”

“Because I like to think of it as theirs. It’s a piece of them in my kitchen and that matters to me.”

Cue the eye roll.

I still remember the morning 6 years ago when Karen placed this mug in my hand, a pre-requisite to the conversation I needed to have. In my mind, Karen’s apartment is always blindingly bright. Her windows faced West, our building perched on top of a Berkeley hill, so when I say West, I mean forever and ever West. Past the Golden Gate bridge West. Her apartment had the kind of natural light at 10am that made everything feel new. Dazzling, color draining light. I had woken up in the same clothes I had went out in. I still had Ocean Beach sand behind my ears and between my toes, my hair still smelled like bonfire, I rose from bed, crossed the carpeted hall in two steps to slip through Karen’s front door and announce, “I’m falling in love with someone I shouldn’t be.”

Karen and Katy, who lived one door over from Karen, was already there, coffee in hand. They paused, poured and we began. I left her apartment with this mug in my hand. I’ve had it ever since. I didn’t mean to keep it. I assumed it would make its way back to her kitchen. But then I moved across town. And then they moved across country. And Katy moved her family to a boat in the marina and now resides in France. We’re all on our own marvelous adventures. Raising our children apart but once upon a time, for a tender moment, we were raising them together.

And I still think of Karen’s children, and Katy’s children, most nights before I fall asleep. I think of them as little glowing seeds growing into vibrant shades of happy. I send them little bits of love from a far away person who wishes them nothing but the very best. I like to think that little bits of love over time stack up to a lot of love. My own accumulative effect theory of care.

The mug is chipped because I consistently use it. I have many mugs and I like them all. And still, I return to this mug over and over because each time I hold it in my hand, I’m holding a little bit of love from Karen. The chip being heart shaped just makes me love it a little bit more, since now I handle the mug with extra care. I wash it more gently than the others. I’m a little softer when I place it on the shelf. And I love that my kid knows I’m that sentimental. It’s good to be a known squish ball.


Chipped China