There are two mug trees in my kitchen that together hold more than a dozen mugs. The two at the bottom are there just for show. They can't be used anymore because they have some cracks in them and I'm afraid they will break, but I still like to look at them. I think they're pretty- they have a cafe au lait color on the inside. Outside they are white with deep blue designs that I suppose are an Asian motif, since one is bamboo stalks and the other is a sylized rendition of cherry blossoms. These mugs are nearly forty years old. They were the first ones I acquired as an adult person on my own. They remind me of many things, one of which is the friend I had who pointed out how very personal mugs are. Indeed.
They remind me of the apartment I had on Long Island, of my job and of my big, fat orange cat, Huey. They remind me of the people I knew, of C.W. Post College and what it was like being young and naive. And they make me marvel at how long ago that was. Where did it go?
I discovered once again how personal mugs are when my husband and I were dating. We had issues surrounding his deceased previous wife. I finally blew my stack over the mugs. He was totally clueless, naturally, but one day he handed me a cup of tea in a mug they must have purchased at Disney World. There were two, actually, one that said "bouncy" and one that said "naughty." It didn't take me long to figure out what the reference was and I was tired of being made to feel like I was being handed a cup of his former sex life with someone else. Oh, yes, it was personal, alright. No woman likes to feel that she is being invaded, accompanied, overwhelmed by another when it comes to her love life. After my banshee fit the mugs disappeared. But there were others (fits) about other things. I could write a whole book about that alone. Beware of widowers.
Gradually we have built a set of our own. A mug from Barcelona, one from Florence. One from work and one from school. One from the Blue Note where we heard Jane Monheit sing. He brought one back from Guernsey when he was there on business. For some unknown reason that one has become my favorite one to use. It's bright with warm colors and seems happy. Another one comes from the little bistro we have in town. All of them much more interesting than Disney World. He apparently got the message about the unique personal quality of mugs. They are rather like songs in the way they can transport you to another time and place and evoke a host of memories. They can make yesterday, even forty years ago, seem like a mere blink.