One of the up-slash-down-sides of moving all the time is that we really don’t have much stuff. On the one hand this makes me feel free and spontaneous. On the other hand it makes me feel immature and annoyed. It depends on my mood, as to whether I feel more glad or more irritated that we’re living light at the moment.
Most of the items that we do have are tucked away at my parents-in-laws’ house, ready for the day when we make a move that’s substantial enough for it to make sense to bring those things with us. Until that time comes, I’ve gotten accustomed to not getting too attached to having my things with me, especially if the things are heavy or breakable. But there are certain key items that usually get to come along on our adventures. And these mugs are among the selected chosen few:
When we were preparing to go to Tanzania, we had six weeks of training in Bad Honnef, a little town on the Rhine river. The facility was actually a mile or two outside of the little town of Bad Honnef, and there wasn’t really much around it. There was a beer garden a few minutes’ walk away, directly on the Rhine. I have very fond memories of long summer nights spent visiting, drinking Hefeweitzen, and watching the barges on the river. One time we were standing in line to order beer at the Bad Honnef beer garden, and one of the waiters told the owner that someone had complained about their potato salad. The owner’s immediate response was: ‘Gleich Bombe!’ Which was his poetically succinct way of saying (facetiously): ‘I’ll blow them up in a minute.’ Since we heard that, that has been a favorite phrase of ours. Someone is exasperating to you, and you say: Gleich Bombe!
Anyway, back to the mugs. Pretty much the only other thing in the immediate vicinity of the retreat center was an outdoors shop. I think they selected their location very cleverly, because they had a constant supply of new development workers, on their way to far-flung parts of the world. And as we all know, every expat aid worker likes ample outdoors gear. I don’t think we actually got much at that shop, but we did get these mugs there. And we’ve enjoyed many a warm beverage out of them since then.
Several years ago, shortly after getting married, I was reading an interview in the lifestyle section of the weekend Financial Times. I can’t remember who the interview was with, but it was someone British and female. The newspaper asked her what her best marriage advice was. Her phrasing of it was better, but essentially the advice was: never get yourself a cup of tea without asking if you can also get a cup of tea for your partner. Basically, a very British way of saying be kind to one another, even in the midst of daily life. I love that advice, and I love that our lightweight, durable, perfectly-sized mugs have played a role in our daily kindnesses.