Monday, June 21, 2010

The "Perfect" Cappuccino


A couple of days ago I was craving a cappuccino – a “real” cappuccino in a large squat mug with foam – a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. I don’t want it in a paper cup with a plastic lid that I bring to my mouth with trepidation, never sure the temperature, and then having that creepy foreign feeling of plastic against my lips. There is something about holding that cup with two hands, gently blowing the heat away, rippling the foam, and sipping from porcelain. There is more of a ceremony to it all. Such a simple but beautiful tradition behind it. I can’t think of anywhere to go in town for that experience. Yes, I am sure, if I went to a nice restaurant for dinner, I would be offered a coffee or espresso afterwards. And there I would get the cup of my dreams, even though the contents would probably leave much to be desired. I want the coffee house experience. I don’t want to sit through the “herb crusted lamb chops with apricot relish” beforehand. Just a simple almond cookie with my espresso would be perfection.

I’ve been thinking a lot about perfection lately and I have been reading up and trying to absorb the concept of “wabi sabi”, the Japanese art of appreciating and finding beauty in “imperfection” – something that of course we all are. There is no perfect, at least in the terms of perfect that we have set for ourselves. There will always be room for improvement and sadly, always room to bash ourselves for things we didn’t do right, for the things we want to do over. And I find all of this guilt giving to be especially abundant when reviewing our parenting skills. Yesterday was Father’s Day and we drove up to Tahoe to spend the day with my Dad. Driving up to my parent’s house I started crying when a Counting Crows song came on. It filled me with such emotion and a sense of sadness that it was almost painful - not sure where it came from. All I could think about was my daughter. And how I wished I could have more “do overs” with her, given her more love when she felt unlovable, more compassion when she was hurting, more giggles and laughter when she was sad, more patience when she was challenging, more of a “family”.  I left the “home” that she had known shortly after she left for college, uprooting her roots. And she wore a brave face, and always told me it was okay, that I was okay, but I know it hurt, and still does.

I wanted her to have that same security and sense of family that I was given. My parents were solid – they both had incredible strengths. My Dad was serious, had high expectations, had a strong work ethic and made sure our life was without many wants. My Mom was a brilliant homemaker, math wiz, had our backs, loved us no matter what, opened her doors to anyone that needed help and loved her family above all else. That we knew. About both of them. They loved us above all else. There was no competition for us – we didn’t have to compete with their careers, friends, personal fulfillment, their own wants and desires. We never did without so that they could take a trip to the Hamptons, a ski trip to Aspen, no new cars, no extravagances. They made sure we had everything we needed first. They still do.

I look at my brother and sisters and in each of us I see different qualities that we took from our parents. My brother was given the gift of independence, determination and a will of steel. I was given the gift of trust and optimism, knowing things turn out okay, a marshmallow safety net. I always knew and still know that I could try anything, and if I failed I would still have that soft place to fall. I can see in my sister Pam that she took away the importance of family, of home, of putting her children before herself. My sister Korri has a deep sense of tradition. She gets that from my Mom. She likes a solid foundation and keeps her family together. She, like my Mom, opens her doors to anyone that needs help. She is a true friend. All four of us share one gift, a family that would and will do anything for each other. When it comes right down to it there isn’t a doubt in my mind that we will all be there, when needed, not out of obligation, but because of love.

If my parent’s have ever questioned, “did they do enough, did they give enough”, they can’t even begin to comprehend that they couldn’t have given us anymore. That their parenting skills, their love and dedication to us and our family, was and is a gift that cannot be improved upon. To me, it is wabi sabi in a porcelain cup.

1 comment:

  1. You're such an amazing writer....how you segue from Cappuccino to parenting, perfection to love and appreciation! You make me cry :) I want to have cappuccino with you!

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