But before I could start living the life I imagined for my housewares, I had to get to the business of decluttering the existing shelves, shedding multiple surplus mugs that have accumulated over the years. You know, the ones that we never use because we have our favorites? The ones from that bowling tournament fundraiser where it was Halloween and we were the only ones to dress up and we didn’t bowl so great, but our Mardi Gras costumes with paper mâché masks we made complete with indigo and green seaweed color dreads of waxed grass were the talk of the alley! A good memory, but who needs the name of a bank you don't even use on the side of a mug? The one that someone gave me as a gift because they thought it was “So you!!!” and I agreed, with false (only to me, I'm sure) enthusiasm, and later every time I would see it shoved back there on the Infinite Shelf of Mugs, I’d cringe a bit, and was filled with a mix of horror and fascination that this mug was how they saw me.
Or the Guilt Mug picked up randomly at the gift shop in the airport before a friend or relative got on the plane to come home from their vacation, where they had nothing to do but complain of sunscreen in a half-hearted dreamy voice, soothed by gently lapping waves on the beach they were sitting on, cold umbrella drink perspiring against their naked thigh, coconut rum on their breath. Passing the gift shop they remember you for the first time in a week, pale-faced you, back in the cold and dreary city you both live in, and to ease the guilt their tanned hand picks up a mug with classic multi-pics of popular tourist spots all crooked and ‘randomly’ arranged in an artistic, pleasing visual way, dancing around the outside, the name of whichever warm, wonderful place they were outlined in thick yellow. Like, thanks for this mug of somewhere I’ve never been! You know the one.
But there are a few mugs I didn’t get rid of. The white porcelain one painted with denim-blue flowers that a friend had delivered with violets in it 24 years ago. It was given as a ‘get well’ gift when I was recovering from a surgery, a significant, painful loss, and Joe was too sick to pick me up from the hospital. We sat around for days huddled together on the love seat, and one of Joe’s brothers set us up with a tv, which we didn’t own at the time, and we binged on Mr. Bean, as the mug-o-violets sat silent and pretty on the windowsill in the kitchen. And the handle-less Japanese mugs that are clay colored with squiggles and Kanji in indigo (that seems pretty Zen, but how do I know? For all I know it might say “I like my tea the way I like my women: green and weak.” and the joke's on me). But they’re perfect for wrapping chilly hands around, and the best for a crackers and milk snack like my paternal grandfather used to make to help me go to sleep. And the thick, heavy coffee cup that my dad made for the whole family, personalized with each of our names, that proudly displayed his Naval Intelligence division logo which he designed, when we lived in Japan. He worked in a vault at the top of an impressive three-story ivy-covered brick building across from the main gate at the base, and up a steep hill, overlooking all. (The building overlooked – not my dad in the vault. Dad in a Vault; get yours today!) We would go up the grand, wide staircase to the third floor, and tentatively poke the buzzer and someone would open the inner door to the space between, close it behind them, then slide back a peephole slot on the outer door to see who was there. Those ones and a few choice others remain on the hard-to-reach shelf, because: sentiment. Sentiment galore.
What’s in my mermaid mug right now? White Thistle tea, which is quite mild, though pleasant. It’s supposed to be good for livers. Though a minute ago I caught myself wondering what a little liqueur would do to spice things up. It’s all about balance.