24 Days of Grateful (Days 4 + 5)
So, I slacked and didn’t get to blogging yesterday. Put it this way: yesterday, I was grateful for the half of a Subway footlong that I ate on the couch while staring at Youtube at 11:00pm.
Today, I am grateful for tea. I am a tea
drinker addict and this past week was one that saw me really needing my hot, steaming, honey-sweetened comfort as I drove to work. Just one of those weeks. I’m not kidding when I say tea gets me through a lot — the green tea I drink every morning, the black tea I drink in the afternoon, the goodnight tea I drink most nights, and the chai tea latte I splurge on sometimes. When I begin to worry, I make tea. It gives me a task: turn the stove on, heat the water up, wait for the kettle to whistle. Take the mug out of the cupboard. Put the bag in the mug. Pour the water over it and watch condensation curl as it hits the ceramic. Squeeze honey in. Wait for it to cool (that’s right, actually wait for something). And then…sip. Sip until the throat feels smooth and the thoughts do, too.
I know. I must be around eighty years old at heart to even use a tea kettle. But I like it, and it reminds me of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast. (My favorite Disney movie, by the way). I connected so much with Belle as a kid. I do now, as an adult. But I digress — maybe a story for another blog post?
Anyway, I am grateful for tea. It is so important to slow down and bring the sweetness in sometimes, to learn how to balance out the bitter with a little bit of sugar and golden taste. I learned that for the first time in Granada, Spain. This was the first time I drank tea (2012, for those who are curious).
I was studying abroad that year and a friend and I traveled from Barcelona to Granada. We got lost in the Albaicin, a winding neighborhood full of uneven cobblestones and narrow houses that looked the same. A family from Madrid asked me for directions. In my thickly-American-accented Spanish, I told them I had no idea where we were.
And then it started to rain. Pour, actually. My traveling buddy and I were soaked to the skin, and I only had one outfit (a certain European airline had quite strict carry-on restrictions…). We got back to the hostel and there was no power except for on the third floor. Stumbling over suitcases of strangers and disturbing one young couple wrapped in a single bed they had paid 15 euro for, we found our belongings and borrowed a hair dryer from the front desk. Shivering in a small yellow bathroom, we blow-dried our clothes until our skin was a little less tingly.
We were both exhausted, and my feet wanted to fall off. Luckily, we were in the land of Turkish baths. We risked another rainy walk and found a Turkish bath house down a winding cobblestone street, dim with fog and lit by small streetlights. We had my umbrella and pockets full of precious euro we probably needed for the bus or something. Instead, we paid for an hour of Turkish baths and a massage from a woman that I wanted to thank profusely but thought she might find it awkward. I will never forget her accent or her oiled hands on my back as I just thanked God we had made it back to the hostel alive. Two lost American girls are no joke in any city, no matter how enchanting the streets are.
There was a small room in the Turkish baths with Moroccan tea and candles, smelling heavy and spicy but somehow fresh and clean. Maybe it was just me who felt fresh and clean. I had never tried tea before, but I took a sip from a tiny cup and let it flow through me. I was the only one in the room and I closed my eyes, leaning on sweating tiled walls with intricate patterns and feeling steam rise off both my body and the tea.
More than steam rose that night, I think. Thanks to a rainy misadventure and a spontaneous sip, I learned to squeeze honey in.