When I visited my best friend in Cleveland in 2014, I found a tea shop in the 5th Street Arcades on Euclid Avenue. It was a tiny shop in the arcade, and I bought a few ounces of tea. I kept them in tight containers and nursed them carefully, but I was running very, very low. So I left a message on their Facebook page and the admin answered a few minutes later, giving me a number to call to place a phone order. I immediately called them the next day, and yesterday (Friday), I received my package of teas. Four ounces (113g) each French Breakfast, Rooibos and Wild Cherry and two ounces (56g) of Lapsang Souchong. I am in absolute heaven. The French breakfast smells like all the mornings I spent in France, all three years of them, and instantly sends me back there. I have never had Lapsang Souchong, but it smells like a smoky barbecue pit and I am excited to try it. Wild Cherry has actual dried cherries in it; it smells like a summer’s day. Rooibos is something I first tried in London at a tea shop in Islington, and it has been a favourite of mine ever since. So if were having tea, I would be offering you one of my new teas (well…perhaps not the French Breakfast).
I tend to do the same things at the weekend during the school year: wake up lateish, do some chores and basically be a lazy bum. I have a cleaner (a small luxury), but I do my own laundry and occupy myself with my own bedroom. However, I think often of rituals; not the religious ones, but the ones that we do daily, the habits that make up our life. As a tea drinker, I realise the history of the tea ritual, though my tea routine is very far removed from the Chinese ritual of centuries past. There are small things I do every morning when I get ready for work, like slid a pen into my bun, or take things to my car as my tea is brewing so I don’t have too much to carry. And when I return home, my keys go into the bucket next to the door so I never forget where they are. It’s soccer season so lately I’ve been getting home very late…just enough time to drop the keys where they belong and head to bed. Were we having tea I would ask you about your daily rituals and perhaps what they tell you about your life.
Were we having tea, we’d probably discuss a little about the Donald Trump rally that was cancelled and exploded in Chicago. The word ‘rally’ has always made me nervous: it is not a press conference, it’s not a town hall meeting; hell, it’s not even an interview. It’s a concentrated group of fervent supporters and a speech meant to warm the blood and get you inspired. Trump’s speeches are always full of hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric that make his supporters see red. He makes me so, so anxious, and I wonder why and how he has gotten so far.
On a final note, I downloaded the Chrome extension from a recent episode of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight that changes any mention of Donald Trump’s name to Donald Drumpf, the original spelling of his last name. It startles me sometimes and then it makes me smile. It’s a little satirical flourish that reminds me that, for now, this sort of speech is well-protected. Were we having tea, I’d love to hear about your favourite bits of satire, or even if we just chat about civil rights, I’m sure it would be a good conversation.
Until next week, then? – SDM
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Photo by Stefan Schweihofer