One Sunday morning, dressed in the clothes my mother picked out for me, I squirmed my way into a booth at Friendly’s for family breakfast. The waiter asked what we would like to drink and my parents responded in unison, “coffee.” Now, I knew I couldn’t order coffee, but I could order something similar-something like coffee. “Tea, please.”
A few minutes later our waiter returned. My parents arms shifted around the table moving the creamer, milk, half and half, sugar, and sweetener according to who wanted what. I looked at my tea cup placed on its little plate and saw a lemon wedge. I also noticed the milk had made its way in front of me. I can’t remember which one I put in first, but I realized later it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter which one went in first because lemons and milk were never destined for each other.
The juice from the lemon curdled the milk, but at the time I didn’t understand this. Chunks in my mug danced around like leaves in the wind and I thought it was okay that this happened, even fun to watch. Until my mother ushered the waiter over and ordered me a new tea.
As I got older, whenever I made tea for myself, I faced the decision: lemon or milk? And it kind of became this larger motif for me, it went past just what I chose to mix in with my daily dose of caffeine. Because, sometimes you have to pick-stay at home for college or go away? Save your money for a house or go on your dream vacation? You just have to figure out what is more appealing to you, the surprising electric shock or the creamy, safe softness?
Besides decisions, it’s good to recognize when you are curdling into oblivion. For example, I would be in this really toxic relationship and I’d have the “ah-ha” moment that it was a lemon and milk situation. It didn’t matter who was the lemon or who was the milk, we just didn’t go together and that was okay. It was okay to realize that. It was okay to make a change in my life.
Look deep into your mug of tea today and do a little self-evaluation. Are you happy with your choices? Are you making the best ones for yourself?
Don’t let yourself curdle, and if you find one day that you did-order a cup of something new.