Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Cup of Comfort

Moving to a new city and state was difficult for my family, especially in winter. Little did we know that a Colorado blizzard would greet us after we had been in our new home for only a week. The excitement of a new adventure was dulled by the memories of the California sunshine and the five-foot snow banks outside our door. My husband and son took a more positive attitude than me, playing in the snow and taking pictures to send our family.

I just missed home. But more than our old house, more than the beach, and more than the seventy-degree warm weather, I missed Stacey. My best friend and I had both cried when I left, like two junior-high girls, not women in their forties.

"We will write and e-mail often," she promised.

"We'll visit, too. It's not like I'm moving to China," I added.

My computer became a dear friend to me the first months in Colorado. Opening up e-mail and finding a short note or a long letter from Stacey fought the loneliness and stress of change I felt each day. But I still missed her presence. I missed her reactions to my stories and the compassion in her face when I spilled my problems.

And I missed our lovely teas. Going to a sweet little tea room we had discovered was a special treat for us. The place was a Victorian dream, with delicate teacups and tablecloths with flower prints. The hat rack near the front swept us back to childhood. Stacey and I became little girls, trying on different hats until we found the perfect one for our dress-up tea party. We would then be escorted to a lovely table and order our tea. Those afternoon teas were precious times, filled with laughter between scones and sharing our lives between tiny cucumber sandwiches.

Springtime descended upon Denver, and the sun lightened my heart. But I still fought loneliness almost every day. I decided to become proactive and set about the adventure of exploring the Denver area. While my son went to school and my husband went to the office, I took time to see what our new area had to offer.

One day, I was driving to find a movie theater. A map of the streets of Denver was opened in the front passenger seat, but was not helping me much. I kept flipping its pages, hoping to miraculously find a message that read, "You are here: go here" with arrows pointing the way. I felt directionally challenged, frustrated, and confused. Tears came to my eyes, and I decided just to pull the car over and cry a while.

As I sat there sobbing, hoping no one driving or walking by would stare at the crazy, bawling woman in the car, my eyes scanned the buildings on the street. "Tea Leaves" caught my eye. A tea room? Here, in the land of loneliness and pain?

I wiped my eyes and got out of the car. A nice cup of hot Earl Grey would help.

I walked through the doors, and tears came to my eyes again. It was a beautiful room, not Victorian, but simple and lovely.

Stacey would love this place, I thought.

At the counter, a plump woman with a red face and an easy smile welcomed me.

"What can I get you?"

"Do you have scones?" I asked.

"Absolutely." Her smile warmed me, and I couldn't help but grin.

"My friend and I used to have tea in California at a tea room. I just loved the experience."

"Would you like to have a full tea?"

"You do that, too?"

"Of course."

I sat down and ordered a pot of tea, a cucumber sandwich, and some scones with Devonshire cream and English jam. It felt silly and wonderful—and it felt like home. For the first time since moving, I felt as if this new city and state could be, would eventually be, my home. Laughter came as I sat and ate the delicious food, and sipped the rosehip and hibiscus tea. I would come back here and bring new friends. I would sit and drink and write and enjoy the simple pleasure of being a wife and mom and woman. And when Stacey visited, we would come here and laugh and celebrate a friendship that will last beyond years and miles.

I lifted my cup and looked around to see that no one saw my silly gesture. Then I made a silent toast. I toasted Stacey, whom I missed dearly, and I toasted a sweet little tea room that lessened my pain.

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