Three dogs. All adopted. All rescued. All spoiled. All really, really big.
My favorite mug. The only one I ever drink from. Ever. The mug that sits beside me when I write. The mug that goes with me in the car. The mug that never gets put back in the cupboard because as soon as I wash it I fill it up again.
If I were to make a movie montage of myself with something that I love, it would involve that mug. Me and the mug on a picnic, feeding each other scones. Me and the mug lying on our backs pointing out shapes in the clouds. Me and the mug watching Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones on a Saturday afternoon. Me and the mug on a bicycle built for two taking a spin around a lake.
Yeah. Me and my mug.
Today, as I write this, I wear the black band of mourning around my arm. The mug is broken.
It was an ugly death involving a barking dog, a leap, and the horrible silence that comes after a car crash . . . when there’s nothing but twisted metal and vapor spewing engines before the sirens sound in the distance. . . like after a lightning flash, when you know the real noise is right behind it but beforehand there’s that awful pause filled with tension and dread.
I saw the death, the fall from my hands, my mug bleeding coffee all over the floor, my dog slipping in it in her scurry for the door. (Cue the slow motion montage and the sad music.)
My mug is dead.
My dogs are not.
My dogs are named for the Rocky movie: Rocky, Adrian, and Apollo. The message of the movie—go the distance. I’ve always liked that film. (Who doesn’t?) And I think my dogs are amazing and inspirational. Who knows what an adopted dog’s past involves? How many miles did they walk before they were picked up? Did they spend nights scared and alone before they were found? Were they beaten by their previous owners? Did someone break their favorite mugs?
I’ll never know. All I really know is that they are always happy, always enthusiastic, and always ready for love.
Now you may be asking yourself what I did after the mug broke. Did I yell at the dog? (It was Adrian, by the way. She can jump like an antelope.) Did I smack her on the nose and tell her she was bad?
Actually no. A friend helped me clean up the crime scene, including incriminating paw prints. My husband picked up the pieces of my shattered mug and told me it would be okay. Adrian nuzzled my legs, apologizing and comforting me in her canine way.
The next days were a haze of confusion and grief . . . and dehydration. What would I drink from now? What vessel could possibly offer me the joy my poor dead mug offered?
Behind me were the days of companionship and warmth and comfort we shared. Ahead of me stretched the rest of my life . . . mugless, thirsty, drinking tepid coffee from my cupped hands. Time passed. I shopped online.
Courageously, I push on. I write. Beside me sits a new mug. We eye one another warily, still unsure if this relationship will work out. Does this mug, for example, prefer football or hockey? I happen to like both. Does this mug favor fall or spring? Christmas or Halloween? I can’t tell yet.
For now, it is a relationship forged in the fire of necessity and the kiln of a New York potter. And that’s all it needs to be.
As for Adrian? All is forgiven. She and the mug keep their distance from each other, unsure yet of one another. And perhaps that’s as it should be. I don’t want dog hair in my coffee anyway.
But let me say this . . . I find it much easier to write with something familiar beside me . . . a mug (obviously), a picture, a book, something that grounds me. I find it to be a mental cue that subtly lets my brain know it’s time to do the work of the day.
What about you? Do you have something you use all the time, something you’ve come to rely on when you write? I’d love to hear about it.