I’m sipping alpine tea, a daily ritual I have been trying to commit to and practice. Seems simple, the act of turning on the faucet, filling the kettle, flicking on the gas stovetop, and waiting as the water begins to boil. But in the before time, where seconds were compressed by a commute, a calendar, a competition, even that felt like too big a hill to climb. I stare at my cup. A few wisps of blue cornflowers have slipped out of the tea ball and are swirling around at the top. They remind me of my mom.
She always dreamed that her eyes would be that shade of blue. Instead, she sardonically refers to them as dirty dishwater blue. A light shade, not quite crystal and not quite sky, not even midnight or deep ocean. But I remember as a young girl, thinking that if I blinked hard enough, maybe my dark brown eyes would become blue like hers too. Blue, such a multilayered word, peeling it down and down to its heart. Blue. I feel it, a deep and soulful sad. Maybe that’s why they name jazz clubs “the Blue Note” with their low saxophones and drawn out bass notes.
We are talking on the phone, it’s still early here. I woke with a start, an urgent need to call her and hear her voice. Imagining her pacing around the house for hours now, checking in on my dad and making sure he’s still breathing, doing all the things she planned for the full day within only those first few hours of morning dusk, leaving the rest an open, seemingly endless ellipse. She picked up on the first ring, and said she knew I would be calling. I guess this is one version of motherhood.
We jump right in to the important stuff. What are you eating. What did you read. Who did you hear from. Are you still in your pajamas, if so which ones. Did you get that picture I texted you of the garden.
I tell her that on my neighborhood walk, I came across a perfectly sprouting row of tulips. She tells me how my aunt and uncle planted several hundred and are patiently wondering, waiting to see if the fat neighborhood squirrels left any of them alone to grow.
Tulips. I love tulips, I think. Their hope, the bursts, their impact, their multiplicity, so many identities that are an annual surprise – the purples and whites and yellows and reds and pinks and zebras. But instead, for reasons I don’t yet want to explore, I say, aloud, tulips make no sense. They grow and grow, a singular life, their long fragile stems folding, bending, snapping because they are not sturdy enough to carry the weight of the bloom on top, the thick petals, the abundant sepals, pollen-laden stamens.
She’s silent for a few minutes. I imagine her blue eyes darting back and forth, most active when she’s deep in thought. She’s lifting her tea bag in and out of the hot water as it steams up towards her face, a free facial, she always jokes.
And she replies to me, nothing makes sense.