Yesterday evening, I was summoned to the living room by the tinkling sound of glass breaking on the tile floor.
As I walked from the bedroom to the living room I called, “What broke?”
“A cup,” said Miss M.
A second later, I saw AM with my favorite mug in his hands. “It just broke a little, Ema.”
“My cup!” I wailed. “What happened?”
Then his face crumpled and he started to cry. He had been playing with his cars on the little wooden kids’ table that doubles as a coffee table; the mug had been knocked to the floor. My fault for not moving it to the sink hours earlier, when I had finished my tea. His fault for not moving it to the dining room table before starting to play. (There had been a near miss last week, and we had talked about moving things out of the way.)
As I held him and explained that I wasn’t angry, just a little sad because it was my favorite mug, I thought about why I even have a favorite mug. Some $12 piece of crockery. Why?
It’s my past life.
I’ve had this mug since the summer of 1995. Since before AM, before Miss M, before Taxman.
It’s from the Santa Fe Chamber Music festival, where I caught a concert one evening. I had been home for the summer, working at the largest employer in those parts. I love Bach and Marcello and Vivaldi. I had some disposable income–but student tickets are usually super cheap.* I can’t remember what was on the program that evening, but I bought this mug as a memento. It was the perfect size, 10 ounces**, and I bubble wrapped it as I moved from place to place.
Eventually I traded in the student card for the “responsible grown up card,” with a job and an apartment and a husband and kids. (Not all at the same time. And this is not to say that responsible grown ups with jobs and a spouse and kids cannot attend chamber music concerts, just that I, personally, have not in many years.) I’m not sorry at all, but sometimes tangible reminders are nice. I used to be 20; I used to go to chamber music concerts on Monday nights; I used to shut out the world and read, uninterrupted, for hours.
I am not saying I need to be that person any more, just that it was nice to have a souvenir from that time.
This is part of the reason why I hope my kids don’t get married really young. I understand in the dati leumi world it is totally acceptable to get married at 19 or 20. But at the same time, I think it’s important to have some quality time with one’s adult self, even for a brief period, before moving on to the next phase. I can’t quite put my finger on why. Just…because.
* After a couple of years of college in Boston, I was extremely savvy on this point. I had student memberships at museums and had seen both parts of Angels in America for a total of $30.
** I have a 20 ounce NYC subway map mug from the MTA Museum in Brooklyn, but that’s for winter mornings or dehyrdration purposes.