About twenty something years ago I received a gift from a woman who I have known and loved more than half my life. It wasn’t an extravagant gift by any stretch, but it was a gift that was selected by her with care, thoughtfulness, an eye and appreciation for utilitarian craftsmanship and a practicality second to none.
What was it?
A beautiful, cozy, mug complete with a thumb-rest plate at the top of the perfect handle that, without question, the artist knew would fit my right hand and my thumb perfectly.
It was a beautiful chocolate color on the outside and a speckled white and brown on the inside. The mug was short and perfectly round and just the right size for a cup of coffee, cocoa, tea or hot toddy when I was sick.
For nearly 20 years I drank from that mug, just about every single day. It brought me joy and comfort, not just because it was filled with caffeine (DUH!), but because my friend took the time to so lovingly pick a gift for me that she knew I would truly appreciate and use.
That awesome mug with the perfect thumb-rest would be packed and moved more times than I can count. It traveled to the west coast and back to New York. Pittsburgh and back. It went through a marriage and a divorce and then four more local moves between Dutchess and Orange counties. All the while, this small but large gift always bringing me peace, joy and memories of friendship was there to comfort me on a level that may not make sense to anyone but me (and her) and that’s okay.
In early 2014, while washing my most favorite and perfect mug, it slipped out of my soapy hands…
…that shattering noise…of my heart absolutely breaking as the mug clattered in to the ceramic sink and broke in to several pieces. I cried like I had just lost my best-friend. I gently picked the broken pieces out of the sink, laid them on the counter and walked out of the kitchen.
Then I walked back in, hoping that the mug would miraculously be whole again. As if some Fairy Mug Mother had swooped in and put the pieces back together again.
So, I tried to repair it with Gorilla Glue. According to their website, Gorilla Glue will do the following:
“…expands into materials to form an incredibly strong bond to virtually anything.”
Yeah, virtually anything BUT my most precious mug! Fuck you very much Gorilla Glue!
That was it. The mug was gone. Never to be filled with another cup of anything again.
I shared with my friend just how much I loved that mug and how sad I was that it had broken. Not long after that conversation we both went on a year long search for a mug that somewhat resembled the original. This was a difficult task you see, because that mug was not only one of a kind but it was a true piece of art. Made with passion by an artist whose medium was clay. There just wasn’t another of the same out there. We would test many mugs at different craft shows and local markets, but nothing ever seemed to measure up.
Until the Lyndhurst Craft Fair this year in May. We found two vendors who had mugs that were pretty close. The first one we found, while very pretty, didn’t have the appropriate thumb-pad acreage for my wee digit. It was okay, but not quite. Towards the end of the day, we found another vendor, an artist by the name of Michael Chatterley, who was a full-time teacher, but in his spare time liked to create beautiful housewares from his pottery wheel, and so named his business such. On this day, his parents were running his booth because he had commitments to his full-time job that paid the bills.
Then I saw it. Sitting on the shelf. It was different. Taller, lighter, but with a handle and a thumb-pad that fit my right hand and wee thumb like a glove. It wasn’t the same visually, but it “fit” like that old, cozy, comfy hoodie you just can’t part with. Christina liked it too. So much in fact, that she bought two for her own home.
Not long after that craft fair I moved to Florida. Life goes on and all that jazz. Every morning I drink from the replacement mug and smile as I think to myself, that maybe my friend is drinking from a mug, almost the same as mine, at exactly the same time. I hope she feels the way I do when I’m cradling my mug in my hands and I begin my day with memories of our beautiful friendship that has spanned almost three decades.
Now, to protect the mug for the next twenty or so years…
Until next time.
Love, Jeni ❤