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K&Co. Story: Charlene White

August 14, 2021

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I love hot beverages. Cold day? Hot bevvy. Warm day? Hot bevvy. In-between day? Hot bevvy. Perhaps it’s the Doctor Who-watching, cuppa-drinking Anglophile in me, but I love hot beverages so much that I even have a menu of specialty teas that I’ve collected and organized by tea type, all printed out onto two sheets of printer paper and regularly updated so that guests can decide if they want to try something new. 

“Now, feel free to smell anything that sounds interesting to you,” I’ll say, doing my best to imitate the tea experts at my local shops. Personally, I always get a kick out of smelling new teas, even if I end up sticking with my tried and true–a simple Earl Grey. I’ve found that those I’ve hosted are usually similar. People are generally delighted by the many choices on the menu (and may even smell a few new ones!), but most will usually settle on something that feels familiar. 

And that makes sense to me. There’s something about a hot beverage in a cozy mug that’s just so comforting, especially when life’s not great. 

This year’s been hard, y’all. And one of the hardest things about it is that we couldn’t be together. In August of last year, smack dab in the midst of heavy quarantine and a pre-vaccinated world, my husband and I relocated a thousand miles away from our previous home of ten years. Not getting to say goodbye to so many of my close friends in person (or at least, not in the way I had imagined) is something I’ve had to grieve over the past year. Leaving the comfort of a community that I had grown to love (and be loved by) was so, so painful. 

But thankfully, like many others, I had the privilege of going on virtual tea and coffee dates, where somehow the sharing of hot drinks was still possible in the midst of disconnection. I spent hours and hours every week staring at my screen, realizing how unflattering Zoom and FaceTime cameras can be (ha!), but still so grateful for the technological advancements of the past twenty years that have made even this level of connection possible. While it certainly was “not the same” as getting to share a blanket on a couch with a friend, I still experienced deep bonds with people I dearly love, sharing updates, frustrations, small victories, fears, and laughter. Perhaps best of all, we passed the (virtual) baton of encouragement around and took turns hoping on each other’s behalf whenever any one of us found it difficult to have hope for herself. Somehow, we were still able to feel special, connected, kindred. 

Somehow, we were still able to feel special, connected, kindred. 

Since I’ve been fully vaccinated (thanks, Fauci!) and restrictions have eased, I have readily embraced the gift of gathering once again. I’ve gotten to break out my tea menu for some new friends in our new city, and I’ve even discovered some kindred spirits. Though I’m still discovering my new community here (which I know will never replace my old one), I thank God for the privilege of connection this past year, even when it didn’t look the way I expected it to. May you, too, in whatever season you may find yourself, experience connection with friends, old and new, near and far. Perhaps over a hot bevvy.

PS: Shop the mug Charlene is referencing here.

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