A month after Dan died, I set off for Cape Cod with our two basenjis, keeping our reservation for a week in Provincetown. The night before I left, I dashed into Shop Rite for supplies. Food prices at the Cape had always made me swoon, and I didn’t want to spend my time there grocery shopping in any case. Pushing my cart through the coffee/tea aisle, I noticed a sampler box of tea. I reached out, picked one up, read the label.
Dan had preferred loose tea, had, indeed, bought us a new glass teapot less than a year before, during our last trip to the Cape, over Christmas break. He was very fond of this teapot, with its inner column for tea leaves, visible through the glass, as he was fond of all kitchen gadgets. I was finding loose tea for one a nuisance and needlessly messy (just like the rest of cooking).
I mulled the selection offered by this tea sampler, packaged in the name of a faux-British tea company, just a step above Salada. Dan would probably consider it poisonous. (So might you.) But half of the teas in it were unfamiliar to me, and by buying this box I could try something new, without a huge commitment of time or money, while I vacationed in a familiar place. I tossed the box into the cart.
And I did try the teas, a different one every night that I was at home in Provincetown. I wasn’t home every night—I discovered that I could walk everywhere, including the movie theater, so I saw whatever it was showing. I sat through Sweet Home Alabama, learning about another culture. Similarly, I looked forward to The Fast Runner, highly recommended by a movie-loving friend, which proved unsuitable for this recently bereaved dog lover, unable to spend three hours watching freezing Inuits being cruel to their dogs. I made myself give it an hour before I went home, brewed a cup of tea in the one-person pot I had brought with me, and sat on the couch with my dogs.
One day a young man on a bicycle stopped to admire the dogs as we walked on Commercial Street, and he gave me a ticket to his improv show that night, so I went. It wasn’t particularly original or funny, but it was live, and he had created it, and I was glad to be there.
And one of the new teas was a real discovery—a slightly sweeter black tea with a silly name that I liked a lot and still drink today.
Months later I began to attribute to that box of tea—little packets of glossy paper in bright, varied colors, holding new flavors—the start of my restart. Another woman and I were perusing the two-dozen boxes of high-end teas at Random Harvest, the seasonal grocery story. Can’t have too many teas, she mused. No, I said, it’s like socks, and she laughed.
The world shifts. You start to right yourself. You notice something new, reach out, try it. Freed from my total focus on illness, I began to look outward again, to discoveries near and far, tiny and huge.