I recently was sent an old digital photo (hence the resolution) that despite the blurriness, hit me sharply. Initially, of course, it was vanity- because I could see myself drinking tea.
The picture is from a years-ago trip throughout Europe with a slew of touring musicians, and I suddenly realized that this was the first time I was exposed to the ritual and daily enjoyment of tea. My obsession was then still embryonic, but I noticed the way I cradle the drink, thousands of cups later, hasn't changed.
And then I thought that the photographer, and one of the subjects, are no longer here. These old friends both passed away last year, both well before their time.
We didn't get to drink enough tea together, so I made two cups this morning in their memory.
Assam, for my friend from Detroit. Sencha, for my friend from Japan.
Both were incredibly creative, musical spirits. The most time I spent was with them, actually, was on that trip in the photograph. I remember crunching through deserted, icy streets in small Swiss towns with Ichiro; his English was superb but he was very quiet, and the rare times he would speak the words were thoughtful and deliberate as poetry. I also have vivid images of running all over London with Dan, who had a digital camera- this was 1997, so it rather astonishing technology (even if we utilized it to no serious end, like documenting the size of a slug next to a pence lying on the sidewalk)- and having endless cups of milky, sugary tea at everyone's home who hosted us.
The attempt to honor them with words is impossible, at least for this unskilled writer, and I know the tea cannot conjure them. All it can offer is a moment of respect.