I might have played Hegel to her Kant, but she was the worldly city girl to my backwards country boy.

a cuppa tea

I don’t talk about it much here, but I’ve long been a bit of a tea addict. While living in Boston, I amassed quite a collection of teas, and I have one beautiful person to thank for pointing me down that path.

We met, for the first time, at “Wellesley College”:http://www.wellesley.edu/, where she studied toward a degree in philosophy. We were kindred spirits in that regard; I’d also chosen to pursue philosophy at “Hamilton”:http://www.hamilton.edu/. Though we spoke – and debated – mostly as equals, at times I couldn’t help but see this young woman on a pedestal. I might have played Hegel to her Kant, but she was the worldly city girl to my backwards country boy. She grew up in an environment of learning, classical music, art and the vibrant hum of human creativity. I spent my youth among the works of nature, sheltered in the cold North and exposed to such elements of culture as Beethoven only through my parents. (That’s not to say I didn’t receive a quality education despite being far from any large city. I did. But the cosmopolitan environment of the city provides an education of its own — a greater understanding of the world as it is now.)

I wrote poetry – and it was her I first asked to judge its worth. She demurred, quite frankly, and pointed me in the direction of Rainer Maria Rilke and Letters to a Young Poet. When I boasted of a prolific season of poetry-writing, she scolded me for falling into the trap of believing quantity meant more than intrinsic meaning.

As we raced giddily out of the Boston Museum of Fine Art, trying to catch glimpses of Picasso (and a prone marble statue whose name I cannot remember), she chided me for saying I ‘liked’ certain works of art, suggesting instead I use terms more specific and meaningful to express my appreciation.

Before we physically met, we spent many hours on `talk`, the closest equivalent to instant messaging we had back in 1994-95, playing “intellectual volleyball” over email (a recurring theme in my adult relationships with women). It happened eventually, however, that I appeared at her dorm-step on the beautiful Wellesley campus, more than a little intimidated by the ratio of women to men on the campus (and the subtle looks I swore I could feel).

We talked of her studies as she brewed me what she called – at the time – Yogi Tea, a fairly spicy, tantalizing tea with notes of cinnamon, black pepper and trikatu, the tea I’m sipping right now as I write this post. Years passed before I discovered that Yogi Tea actually makes a whole line of teas, and that she had prepared their Detox Tea for me that day. She demonstrated the yoga she’d been learning by doing a five-minute headstand while we talked, and I can’t remember if we walked around Lake Waban that time or another, but over the course of several visits, we forged a friendship. To be honest, I developed an infatuation with her, because she represented the worldliness I felt I lacked.

Later on, I sipped Lapsang Souchong, a smoked tea with a distinctive flavor and aroma, with her at the Algiers Cafe in Cambridge.

We walked again around Lake Waban, joyfully discussing the world around us in philosophical terms. One more time and we would’ve fallen victim to one of those old college traditions: 3 times around Lake Waban and you either have to throw the guy into the lake or you’ll get married to him.

Thank you — For being the first to introduce me to tea, to jazz, to yoga, to the amazingly beautiful campus of Wellesley and to your just as beautiful soul. Thank you for loving philosophy just as much as I did, and for setting me on the path that I’m still following to this day, with a few roundabouts and missed turns along the way.

I grew up at some point. We grew apart and found our separate lives. As my own self-esteem solidified, I stopped idolizing her and began to appreciate her for who she was to me. Sometimes I wonder about certain decisions and whether they might have changed the course of our relationship; sometimes I wonder what our friendship might have been like had we stayed more closely in touch.

But I’ll always think of you fondly, whether or not we see each other again. Thank you.

Mila (Jacob Stetser)

Mila is a writer, photographer, poet & technologist.

He shares here his thoughts on Buddhism, living compassionately, social media, building community,
& anything else that interests him.

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