My tall, slender, beautiful, nineteen-year-old granddaughter with long, silky sunshine hair called on Friday to ask, “Would it be alright if I came to see you tomorrow night?” She is in her sophomore year at school in San Luis Obispo, about two and a half hours south of my cottage on the coast of California.
She arrived Saturday and we immediately brewed tea and began a twenty-eight hour chat, with silence only for sleep. She had come “just to hang out with you, Gran, because I want to tell you about my spring quarter in Thailand.” She glowed with excitement as she told me about the eight-week long trip with 27 other students.
She fingered a tea bag and said, “I love Yogi tea because they have all these nice little sayings on the tags. I got my blog motto from one.”
I was reminded of a chapter I had just written for my book about an experience in Leningrad in 1987.
“My friend Jackie wanted to meet a young Russian rock musician named Sieva who had visited her in Carmel several years ago. ‘Come,’ he said. ‘Come with me. My mother wants to meet you. I will take you to her. In our home. She is waiting for you. I hope you don’t mind.” His English was very clear and had a bit of a British accent.
……While Sieva put water for tea on the stove in the small kitchen, I looked around the living room. Classics – Pushkin, Shakespeare, Mark Twain – filled the book shelves that lined the living room. Also on the shelves, dozens of Celestial Seasonings Tea boxes! Empty.
“What are the tea boxes for?” I asked.
“Oh,” Sieva smiled. “When I was in Carmel visiting Jackie, she gave me boxes of tea to bring back to my mother. There are sayings on the boxes and I learned to read them. Such lovely English phrases. And I listen to BBC (British Broadcasting Company). I practiced until now I can understand and speak English pretty well. Don’t you think so?”
Reading that story to my granddaughter, I thought of all the warm comfort she and I were sharing as we sat together talking about Thailand and tea. Small threads like this pull our lives – and our stories – together. What threads weave together your experiences? Which ones tie your stories together?