Tea forms a vital part of my marriage. A cup of tea signifies celebration, commiseration, comfort, apology, love. It is language unto itself. Is one delivered without request? Then it is an act of love. Was there a disagreement over something? A cup of tea appearing in hand is an apology, an olive branch being stretched out. If DrH is feeling under the weather it is my way of saying, I´m sorry and I want you to feel better.
If a cup of tea is made for you, but left in the kitchen without the milk added then it is a sign that you´re still not quite out of the bad books yet. If the kettle is already on when DrH walks in the door it´s saying "I know you´ve had a bad day, but let´s make it better now". A cup of tea delivered to the bedroom with a croissant on a Saturday morning? That means last night was, well, you can work it out.
Such as this, a cup of tea can be used for celebrations. Or sympathy, as the one that appeared next to me minutes after my mother told me my grandmother had died. It is a form of communication which our relationship is built upon.
But now we have a coffee machine.
Alright, we always had one, but it was unwieldy and awkward, ugly and time consuming. We used it once a month if that. This new machine is sleek and cute and sexy. We´ve the accompanying milk frother which heats and froths in a minute and all at the push of a button. The coffee is strong and tasty, the froth thick and, well, frothy. A quality espresso or cappuccino to enjoy in your own kitchen.
So what do you think has happened to our tea rituals? That´s right, gone. Of a morning DrH has a cappuccino now. I hear the machine buzz and know that for another day he´s talking in a different language. What is that meant to mean? Coffee - it´s strong and bitter, unpleasant for an early morning. The froth is light, a nothingness of hot air and promises. What is that trying to tell me? DrH comes home of an evening and makes another. He sits on the couch spooning sugar into the foam, smacking his lips in enjoyment, while I sit next to him with a lonely single cup of tea. Its subtle and gentle message is lost under the dominance of the coffee. It´s ignored, overlooked and the tea and I together are cast aside.
I´ve tried to bring him back to me. I offer a cup, I have one ready when he walks in the door, but he heads straight for the machine. We´ve lost our language. How on earth do you communicate without tea?