My husband is currently a vampire.
By which I mean that he has shifted into a work-all-night sort of schedule for the last few weeks, because he thrives on it and does great work.
What’s kind of nice about this is that in the past, he would get up after me, so I’d spend the first hour of the morning tiptoeing around quietly. But now, when I get up in the morning, he’s still up working and awake and happy to see me, and I’m the sleepy one.
Also nice: he has recently gotten into making good coffee, carefully, with fancy methods involving scales and pouring over and things he learned from Seattleites and the Internet, and when I get up he makes me a cup, which is the biggest luxury I can imagine.
This morning, though, I got out of bed with a thick, scratchy throat and that feeling like you were run over very gently but a zillion times by a truck with big treads on its wheels all night. As I got into the shower, he appeared at the door.
Can I make you coffee? he asked.
Tea, actually, I rasped out, and almost asked for a shot of whiskey in it (the only thing that works on a sore throat) before I realized it was not just before five pm, but before eight am.
He gave me the cup of tea four minutes later in an owl mug, and I sipped on it and burnt the tip of my tongue and eventually moved it to another, bigger mug and put an ice cube in it.
It was peppermint tea, of which we have great quantities, because peppermint tea makes him think of some days in college and me think of high school, when I drank peppermint tea while perched at the desk in my bedroom where I completed all my studies. (I was homeschooled.)
The house I grew up in was kept warm with two toasty wood stoves, but though I loved this in concept, it was a problem for me: I am allergic to trees (which you burn to make fire, as you’ll recall), and also, my bedroom was directly above the only insulated room in the basement, which meant the heat did not rise. But it was the quietest spot in our house, which was perched on a few acres a long way away from anyone else’s house.
Peppermint tea: I could clutch it and drink it and let the steam rise, and the coolness of the taste counteracted the heat. Also, peppermint tea is one of the few types of herbal tea that really, really tastes like what it is, instead of a watery version of something richer. Peppermint is richness. It is health and vibrance and happiness, in a cup.
This morning, as I downed the tea, no lemon, no honey, and certainly no whiskey, I was grateful.
Because I am no longer in high school.
Because my house is warm.
Because I get to crawl out of bed and feel a little sick, but what I must do that day is give a final exam and watch a movie and grade papers, and that is work that I can do, even with a scratchy throat.
Because a husband greets me with a smile, one that crinkles the corners of his eyes, and gives me something cool and warm to drink.
Because I would not have dared to dream this life for myself, perched in my cold bedroom, clutching a cup of tea, wishing to be 15 no longer.
Because I am the luckiest girl in the world.