I discovered coffee, real coffee, in college: The rich smell of a hot cup warming my senses in the UC Davis Coffee House as the heat emanating from it rejuvenated my frozen, aching fingers after a solitary walk from my off-campus housing to an early morning class; the thick layer of cream I added to it and two packets of Splenda; such joy in the first sip, such satisfaction, every single time.
I am proudly and unabashedly addicted to coffee. And I take my coffee with cream and Splenda - no black intense business for me, thank you very much. While coffee is a pleasure to be enjoyed in solitude for me, it is also the perfect accent when I have company. It makes bad company tolerable, allows me to slug through the endless conversations that often have a circular nature, refreshes me so I can keep the pointless and inane small talk going, going, going until I can mercifully extricate myself from the situation without being enervated. It enhances pleasant company, too, highlights the easy flow of stimulating conversation, adds to the element of savoring the moment.
I am surprised to realize just now that I have never mentioned my collection of coffee mugs in this space. I started collecting them in college. I suppose the timing coincided perfectly with my morning brimming with the promise of a steaming cup of coffee at the destination. I have about 50 mugs now - not a grand collection by any stretch of the imagination. They are beautiful, each one having its own significance. I remember exactly where I bought each piece. I also have a pristine recollection of who gave me which mug if it happens to be a gift. I would love to display them in large glass cases arranged neatly in rows, the character of each mug visible, the vibrant and muted colors lined side by side. Unfortunately, they are gathering dust in a kitchen cabinet, but I do try to use some of them from time to time.
While I still adore coffee mugs, I am shifting my focus slightly to bone china. I have two fine porcelain sets, which I have loved dearly for the last few years and used with care. I was satisfied with them until recently when my sister introduced me to Royal Albert bone china. I am sure it was polite and casual interest at first on my part, but as I have looked at it more on eBay, and especially after buying a few pieces, it has become a sort of scaled-down obsession, much like the coffee mugs were when I first started collecting them. Each one of the pieces I have bought is beautifully crafted, and I can already tell that if this transitions into a collection, it's going to be a burden on my wallet. This is not a humble coffee mug with a clever message. This is vintage fine china. The Big Leagues.
My love for coffee and coffee mugs is still flourishing. I will always reach for a tall sturdy mug to pour perfectly brewed coffee. But this new interest in vibrant pieces of china manufactured many years ago, this has a different feel to it. It's like grown up love as opposed to young love. While it may not have the same degree of passion, it's sure to have endurance. I am looking forward to being swept away.