I

love a good tea party.

Not when I was little—at least, not that I can remember. And not at home now, either. We have some boxes of tea but The Three enjoy making hot, messy cups more in our kitchen than I do. While they boil and brew, I hang back, available for any serious spills and all of the disasters kettles and their contents might bring to bear on the otherwise merry proceedings.

As an adult, though, I can’t seem to make enough time for tea out in the world. I have taken the children on several occasions to the St. James Tearoom, Albuquerque’s remarkable oasis for tea and sympathy in the desert. This, I’m sure, accounts for their comfort with the time and small trouble that making tea involves. There is no button for them to press to initiate the tea-brewing process but they know that already and, for them—Roy especially—the making of a cup is at least half of the pleasure of drinking.

My first exposure to the poetry of tea was in high school. I’ve realized somewhat belatedly that my best friend was, for all intents and purposes, British, and on Christmas she invited to be a part of their afternoon tea on the holiday. There were small things to eat and delicate cups and a lot of sharing about who’d gotten what earlier in the day. It was familial and cozy but for me it was an event.

Part of my ongoing work in my life is to slow down. I do a lot of things quickly—unfortunately, sometimes faster than I can think them through—and it is more because of this than a late introduction to tea that makes it difficult for me to make time for it on my own. There is a ceremony and a deliberateness to the process that is separate from me. I enjoy it. I even believe myself to benefit greatly from the time taken out of the day to be still and sip. But if it is left up to me to find the time to do it on my own, I’m not sure I ever would.

Thank heavens then for reservations and the friends that make them—and, of course, for having a place at which to enjoy them.