Friday, February 08, 2008

Musings Over a Warm Mug

Glug, glug, sputter, pshhh…glug glug…the coffee was brewing.

My son, his hastily packed lunch, my daughter, her buzzing cell phone, and my frazzled husband were miles down the road en route to school and work.

I was alone. This is an important fact to file away at this point, because momentarily, you’ll want to foist responsibility for subsequent phenomena upon someone—anyone actually—in an attempt to maintain your sense of structure and order. But I’m going to take that from you here, at the outset, because I never had the sense that what happened inside my kitchen cabinet was normal, so I’m not going to let you think, or even suspect, it , either.

Because it’s simply not normal to reach into your cabinet for your favorite coffee mug, the one you always reach for when it’s clean because your daughter got it for you when she was seven and it makes you smile—it’s just not normal to wrap your hand around the mug and discover that it’s already hot.

I’m not talking maybe-some-stray-sunbeam-seeped-in-though-a-crack-in- the-cabinet hot. I’m talking just-came-out-of-the-kiln hot. So hot that the shelf beneath it is warm to the touch and the surrounding mugs have soaked in its heat sort of hot.

Now, of course, the first thing I’m thinking is fire, because it’s not like I haven’t been right in that very spot of the kitchen, warming leftovers with my walls on fire. It happens. And I’m feeling a little more confident about fires ever since I met a new friend at church who is a firefighter and says he’s totally got my back if I ever set the kitchen aflame, as I'm so prone to do. So I’m kind of looking for the source of the fire, wondering why I didn’t have the presence of mind to put Firefighter Friend on speed dial, when I realize that the cabinet is adjacent to another cabinet containing nothing but--what else--books— in this case stone cold books. All the other dishes in the burning mug cabinet—pots, pans, glasses, and plastics—were all behaving in their typical, cool-to-the-touch manner on the surrounding shelves.

Curious, I cradled the mug in my hands, enjoying the mystery of it’s warmth—which, I must note, did not measurably subside during the entire time I waited for my coffee to brew—even after I poured cream into the bottom.

See, as disturbing as it is to have an inexplicably toasty mug in my kitchen cabinet, I know better than to question the event. No good will come of it. There are no answers, any more than there were during that disturbing incident in the late eighties when I dozed off while watching a daytime drama and awoke to find that a wardrobe—complete with all my clothes, on hangers—had appeared in my dorm room.

It didn’t matter, then, how many times I retraced the events of that afternoon, meticulously interviewing witnesses and establishing timelines like a Crime Scene Investigator on a tricky case—there were no answers to be had. Yes, witnesses could verify that my clothes had been draped over chairs and heaped in corners for weeks prior to the arrival of the Mysterious Wardrobe. Yes, others had been watching the same daytime drama, and verified that indeed, I’d missed mere minutes of the eposode. Yes, everyone could plainly see the large wardrobe and my neatly hanging clothes, situated in the room. But not a single soul knew how, or when, it happened.

It’s the same now, with the mug. It’s one of those mystifying events in life that defies rationalization. I’ve decided to embrace this ambiguity, and count it among the blessings of life. The random, unexplained events of life keep me interested and engaged—on my toes. In fact, if there is an explanation, I don’t think I even want to know. I'd rather spare myself the discovery that life might be mundane, because I’d find the news unbearably devastating.

I’m currently not inclined to view the semi-burning mug as any sort of sign. If I wake up tomorrow to find my bushes aflame, I’ll reconsider.

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