By MICHELE NIESEN
When I was in my 20s, I thought the decoration vibe of my apartment was the most important thing in the world. I couldn’t wait to take people back to my place. It said something about me. I was the kind of person who liked chaise lounges and large Art Deco dogs placed just so in the corner to let you know that I had a nod to another generation (Eurotrash mysterious). You could keep your tailgate parties and chicken wings. I had a cordon bleu in the oven!
Inside a pale armoire, I keep a collection of China with the piece d’resistance—a Limoges tea set: white with black polka dots and a spout of gold and matching lid handle; six cups with matching dessert plates.
I moved that tea set around for 25 years and never made tea in that pot. Ever. I packed it. Worried about it. Unwrapped it. Never touched it. I had lost cups to clumsy maintenance men knocking over a shelf, a shoddy packing job, dropped plates and other things that happen in life to shorten the cache of a full set. Now incomplete, and because I don’t have things like armoires to display things anymore, it was relegated to a cabinet.
Today while making tea, I thought, I always boil water on the stove and pour it into an old pickle jar or something. Suitable but definitely not haute. And then I thought, Why don’t I use a tea pot? I’m not camping for cryin’ out loud. Let’s class it up.
Dusty and sitting on a shelf it was. Aha. Fear made me put that there. Hoard. Worry. No pets in the apartment because they might ruin it. Slip covers. Dress-up clothes. What are we waiting for? A life that may never come? Guests who may not visit? Money that we may not live to enjoy? Pfft.
Use it. Enjoy it. Spend it. Hug on somebody just because. Bring the tea pot in the tub with the dog. Whatever.
Living in nature with all these animals (wild and otherwise) and seeing these cycles of life and death daily is showing me that everything is fragile. Not just some silly French teapot. We worry about protecting things more than touching lives. Something seems fuzzy about that picture.
So what’s it gonna be—safe and miserable? Or open and happy? I for one am letting go of fear and am going to enjoy a very civilized cup of tea. It makes me giggle to think that I used to care about labels. Notably when I tip the pot upside-down, the Limoges imprint that was supposed to make this pot so valuable is barely readable. Or maybe I just can’t see it anymore.