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Buffalo in Late January
And Comfort Tea
I flew to Buffalo this past weekend. It’s not something typically-saned people do in late January, but I was flying with my son, Thing 2, joining up with my other son, Thing 1, to be with our chosen family as we said goodbye to a beloved friend.
I tell you this to demonstrate that there are worse things than Buffalo in January, and to explain why I might have been distracted.
JetBlue had done the thing where they simply eliminated the flight I’d booked, and so re-booked me for a flight twelve hours later without letting me know. I found out when I tried to check in and was told I was “too early.” This led to a scramble for replacement tickets - until then I’d had no idea it was even possible to fly Boston to Chicago to Buffalo, or that someone could keep their job after designing such a route.
We ended up flying Friday night instead of the Saturday morning we’d originally planned on. We drove to the airport together, and Thing 2 smelled particularly antiseptic when he got in the car, which led to me finding out that Fresca now makes pre-mixed cocktails.
Few things take me back to a time of being young, skinny, and free like Fresca. Just the name conjures flashes of sitting in the summer heat sipping on a sweating, iced glass of fizzy, citrus-like effervescence, while hormonally volatile boys hurled themselves around me and my friends with a not-quite-equal chance of getting lucky or maimed by their own antics in an attempt to be noticed.
We checked into Boston Logan with time to get Thing 2 some food. I’d already picked up a bottle of water and my requisite 100% calorie-free airplane candy and was waiting for him at the standing bar separating the food court from the main walkway. On the other side of the walkway was a brewery restaurant.
I was lost in thought when a very handsome man walked from the brewery to the other side of the standing bar where I was leaning. Well-built, dapper in his vest, suit pants, and dress shoes, maybe thirty years old, he walked up and said in a lite Barry White voice, “What are you doing tonight?”
The actual amount of time it took me to touch the stars and then crash to earth was probably a millisecond. That’s also the amount of time it took him to then say, “Oh really? Where?” Which made it obvious he was on his ear piece. Talking to someone probably not a member of AARP standing across from him in an airport concourse pretending a Butterfinger had no calories and waiting for a son roughly the same age as him to help carry her luggage because her arthritic hands hurt.
Crushed, I described the series of events to Thing 2 who consoled me with, “Oh mom, I’m sure you could have pulled that in your day,” to which I kept repeating, “Yeah, I could have pulled that. I totally could have pulled that,” in ever-fainter declarations as I hobbled toward the gate.
1970s hubris was never questioning how long the days of Fresca would last.
2023 hubris is thinking I can manage without a roller bag with these hands.
The days of Fresca were replaced by the days of coffee and harder substances, and then more coffee and baby bottles (for the kids, not for me), and good wine, and teas and lesser quantities of better quality beverages.
On one fateful day, the cute cashier guy I thought I was flirting with at the liquor store called me ma’am. He didn’t card me.
Lost along the way were illusions of boundless choices and infinite “maybe somedays.” Also lost were many of the friends from those Fresca, baby bottle, and bourbon days. Some were swept away by the hands of the clock and distant moves, many more faded or imploded due to my failures or theirs, often both, though I suspect they’d disagree.
But some precious friendships remain, intricate relational knots of messy interactions, looping threads of laughter and frustration, phone calls and visits, meals, tears, careers, children, parents, and commiseration woven over time. Not always together, we are always there for each other no matter how far apart or for how long.
These are the friends who will laugh with you at your lost Fresca days, and testify to your children that indeed, you could have pulled that.
These are the friends we cannot lose, yet nevertheless we sometimes do to the things none of us can control.
There are worse things than Buffalo in late January.
You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. ~ E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
What’s your comfort tea?
For as long as I can remember mine’s been Constant Comment, which is black tea with orange and “sweet spices” that are a family secret and absolutely not probably cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamon, and orange peel. Because it’s a family secret and therefore unattainable.
In order to remain comforted I never look at the Bigelow “Meet the Family” page because that’s one of the scariest things on the internet. But the tea remains delicious and nicely… placid. That’s not the same as boring. It just doesn’t smack you around, and that’s a good quality in a comfort tea.