2002-05-12 - 5:24 p.m.

This morning as I poured my coffee into my favorite mug I heard the ceramic cracking. I covered my mouth muttering, “No, no, no...” as little tears welled in my eyes. I’ve had it for years and years, my youngest brother bought it for me for Valentines Day when I lived in my first apartment. It has a chipped rim and the handle has been glued on several times. It says I LOVE YOU across the front. And I loved it. I loved waking up in the morning and reading those words, feeling that warmth of having people love me spreading through my sleep weary veins. I felt a great pride in that mug, when people were visiting me I would drink my coffee from it with the I LOVE YOU pointing outwards so my visitors could see that someone loved me. This morning as I watched the little cracks separate and then crack apart, spilling coffee on the floor as though it were the happiness that mug had brought me pouring out of its safe confines, I felt kind of sad, kind of lonely, as if I didn’t matter to any one any longer.

And then I went to work with heavy eyes and a sodden heart.

Things quickly turned around for me. My first table of the morning looked at me with giant grins as the father said, “Oh, thank goodness you’re our waitress, my wife was really hoping you would be on Mothers Day, you’re our favorite,” and the two kids giggled. I know I’ve waited on them before but they’ve never really talked to me or acknowledged me in any way that separates me from the rest of the waitstaff. This sort of thing happened four more times during my six hour shift. Then as I was standing at the counter at the end of the day some other customers, who I hadn’t waited on, patted me on the back and looked at my boss as they said, “This girl is a jewel.” Already the I LOVE YOU cups demise was weighing less heavy in my heart.

After work I went to the greenhouse to buy flowers for my gardens. I walked in and the owner exclaimed, “There she is!! Happy Spring!” I thought at first that he was just being friendly, that he said this to all his customers to make them all feel special. But as I was looking through flowers he came up behind me with a flat of dahlias and said, “I saved these for you, it’s the last one and I know you like them.” And it’s true, Dahlias are my favorite garden flower and I would have been devastated if I didn’t have them this year. I picked out a few more flats and a couple hanging baskets and went to the counter to pay. He only charged me for two flats and one hanging basket. I pointed out that my total wasn’t what it should be and he said, “Of course it is, you’re a special customer, you get a discount.”, I barely remember the mug now.

Then I go to the bookstore. I browse around for a while, pick out two books and go to the register. The owner comes out from the back with a book in his hands. He says, “Hi! I’ve been waiting all week for you. I have this book for you, a Jonathan Carroll book that hasn’t been released yet, I thought you would like to have it,” and he hands me the book. I thanked him profusely, pay for my other two books and then go into the coffee shop to find the barrister standing there with a proud smirk and my caramel mocha already made for me. I felt entirely too much love. People really do like me, I matter darn it. It was great.

I still have one mug from my little brother, it says, “I’m not a bitch, I’ve just been in a bad mood for a few years.” Perhaps this mug is more indicative of the way he feels about me, but I will still miss the I LOVE YOU mug like it was part of my heart that was cut away. Someday I’ll have another I LOVE YOU mug, but in the meantime I will just get by with all the friendly people who make my days worthwhile.


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