Do you find your heart and mind looping backward through time, so your body is here in the present, but your head is playing video vignettes from some past event?
Today I looked down at the cup of tea in front of me, and it was like opening a door. My senses reeled back through months and years.
I remember the first chai I ever tasted, at a rest stop off the highway, driving back late at night from a national trade conference in Manhattan. I’d left work to stay home with my young children, then gone back to work for a digital startup in the late 90s. One of my young hip coworkers, Camille, wanted caffeine to stay awake during the long trip home. We stopped, and she suggested I try the chai latte! I’ve never regretted that first sip.
Now I have favorite coffee-tea haunts in many north shore towns: ZUMIS in Ipswich, kaffmandu in danvers, and atomic cafe in Beverly.
But it’s not so much the beverages as the relationships flavored by each cup’s presence. With beloved friends and my own family, I’ve sat and played games, talked heart to heart, or walked countless steps, steaming frothy cup in hand.
I often tell hospital patients a piece of wisdoms that I was once told. “Trauma touches trauma.” When we experience an extreme event, it can trigger similar past events, so we have complicated reactions in the present, too, that involve reactions to our histories.
Why do I think of tea and trauma? I’ve often celebrated with tea. Yet tea also helped me cope with years of emergencies in our family, often life-and-death medical situations with our daughter.
Holding a warm cup in my hands makes me feel safe, but also sometimes sad. Sensory memories can be layered by emotional and psychological responses to scents and tastes and sights.
Today i feel the intimate presence of love in my life, warming my palms via a simple cup of tea. Some of the love is living and present. Some of it is here only in memory. Some of that love abides in an intangible existence to which I remain connected. Just as this cup of tea is more than the mere beverage and vessel in front of me, but the symbol of past sharing and connections, and hope of bonds that continue to grow and deepen.
Yes, trauma touches trauma. And love touches love.