Monday, March 22, 2010

That's Right, I Got It From My Mama

My poor mother has three daughters. This means that in the late winter/early spring of 1996, 1998, and 2007, she devoted numerous weekends to the prom dress search extravaganza. There would come a point when us rather high-maintenance girls would finally give in (only after hours upon hours of trying on...and a ginormous piece of Sbarro’s pizza), “I guess this one would be alright.” Mom, however, would have none of it: “Nope, you’ll know it when you see it.”

I have a particular coffee mug that I love. I love the color….subtle green on the outside, speckled tan on the inside. It’s relaxing. I love the handle…relatively thin and the perfect width from the mug itself. I love the rim…not so thick that I feel like I’m going to spill my coffee, hot chocolate, or apple cider. This is the mug I reach for when I want to feel more settled. This is the mug I would choose if I were going to curl up on the couch and watch a movie with synchronized dance scenes. This is the mug that goes best with morning bagels and handwritten letters from my grandmother.

I really wish I could tell some elaborate lie about the intriguing history of this particular green cup. But alas, both my stupid conscience and waning creativity this morning stand in the way. The truth is, it is neither family heirloom nor thoughtful present. In fact, I think I found this mug on a perfectly ordinary day, in the completely ordinary house ware section of T.J. Maxx.

The only thing that might be somewhat interesting about this mug is that it “looks like me” (keep in mind that I said “might”). When I open the cabinet and see it so relaxingly sitting among the mismatched juice glasses, tacky assortment of plastic cups, and unknown whether red or white wine glasses, I immediately think, “that seems like something I would buy.” I’m not sure if it’s the color, or the shape, or some unconscious connection I’m making between a T.J. Maxx commercial and my own life, but something about this mug just makes me feel good. And safe. And welcomed. The intangible things that both inspired me to move home and that you have heard about in previous posts – the necessity of community, the importance of the local, the peace that comes with being “known,” the comfort and genuine enjoyment of being just “up the road” from my family – seem to be embodied in this mug. It is a tangible reflection of my own tastes just as it is an abstract representation of things that matter.

You already know of my devotion to my cowboy boots. And I’ve acknowledged the hidden agenda in my photographs. I suppose my coffee mug now needs to be added to this list. I think it has a story to tell, a story in which I want to be included. Forget subliminal T.J. Maxx advertising, something more interesting, i.e. crazy, drew me to this special little cup even as it sat on a rather dusty retail store sales shelf. Mom, I “knew it when I saw it.”

Suggestion: Keep those people around who not only notice the mugs, dresses, pictures, and/or items of whimsy that you adore, but who also say,"this looks like you."

Here are some other favorites that I think "look like me":

Probably my favorite piece of furniture in the house.
Don't lie. This makes you happy, too.
I have three corner cabinet lazy susans in the new house. I have shown them to everyone who has stopped by to look at the house.
No joke, I would fight over my chilly willy bowls.
One of the mementos from canvassing in Cincinnati. I especially like the way my floor-length, white housecoat looks in the reflection.


  1. I have lived by those words most of my life. "You'll know it when you see it" is really good advice if you have the patience to wait.

    I am so happy to have all three of my girls home again. Maybe we can go shopping together soon or just hang out in Waterview.

  2. It really is great advice, ol' wise one:). No kidding, I think this will stick with me forever.
    I am so happy to be home again. Shopping and/or hanging out in Waterview both sound great. Love you, Mom.

  3. "'You'll know it when you see it' is really good advice if you have the patience to wait" is such a great insight. I'm going to hold on to that one for a while.

    Love to you both!