Monday, November 3, 2014

The pleasure lesson I learned on my honeymoon

Things are a bit different when you marry at 40 and it's not the first rodeo for either of you. You may not spend the honeymoon having sex while swinging from the chandelier, but that's only because you've already learned you get better traction from a fully-adjustable door-mounted pleasure swing with padded back support and optional bondage cuffs.

My gentleman friend and I were lucky enough to honeymoon in Belize for ten days following our September wedding. While I make no comment about how we spent our time in the boudoir, there's one important life lesson I brought home to savor long after I'd shaken the sand out of my bikini bottoms.

I developed a taste for English-style tea with milk and sugar back when I was a wee lass who got her thrills looking up "penis" and "intercourse" in the grade school encyclopedia. My mom would take me out for "lady time" to an English café in Salem, Oregon where we'd sip tea and nibble cucumber and salmon sandwiches while pretending to be refined and dignified.

My fondness for black tea laced with milk and sugar continued into adulthood, but something got lost along the way. Over time, I transitioned from sugar to an artificial sweetener, followed by a switch to some sort of all-natural sweetener that tastes vaguely like rotting fruit. The milk, too, fell by the wayside after an allergy test revealed I had a mild intolerance to it. While I still savored my tea every morning, it was a watered-down version of what I loved as a kid.

That all changed on my honeymoon. Our oceanfront suite was stocked with black tea and an electric kettle, but the only sweetener to be found was real sugar. There was an array of powdered creamer, but a quick trip to the corner store saw it replaced with a pint of whole milk.

How I drank my tea (and did some writing)
every morning of my Belize honeymoon.
Since I'm an early riser in contrast to my gentleman friend's night-owl habits, the morning hours became a treasured little pocket of time I used to work on the book I'd recently been contracted to write on a fairly tight deadline.

(Sidenote: Yes, I know it's f**ked up to bring a laptop on your honeymoon so you can work. It's even more f**ked up when the book you're working on was partly inspired by the divorces you and your new spouse experienced prior to your union. In my defense, I love what I write, and I love this book in particular, so getting up and working on it each morning was almost as enjoyable as crawling back into bed afterward to wake my other half).

So back to the tea.

Every morning, I rose early and pulled on a pair of cotton shorts and a tank top. I brewed a mug of tea, added milk and sugar, and padded barefoot out to the balcony where I'd spend the next hour sipping my brew and hammering out a new scene with the backdrop of turquoise waves lapping at the shore. Everything about it – the writing, the tea, the scenery, the fact that I didn't have to wear shoes or a bra – was exactly what I always fantasized about when I imagined becoming a romance writer.
I wasn't kidding about the jellyfish. Here's the mark to prove it.

Of course, reality beckoned in the not-so-distant future. There were day jobs and pets and power bills and all the trappings of real life waiting at the end of our ten days in paradise. We headed home with fresh tans and fresh knowledge of what happens when you're twined together in the ocean with your legs wrapped around your new husband's hips and you happen to brush up against a jellyfish.

But the most important lesson of all was in the tea. Or rather, the fact that I enjoy my tea so much more without the gritty dollop of almond milk I added because I worried a tablespoon of milk might upset my stomach, or the nasty-tasting fake sweetener I used because somewhere along the line, I decided I didn't deserve those extra couple calories each morning.

Tea with milk, sugar, and my favorite mug
(courtesy of author Chuck Wendig)
These days, I drink my tea with real milk and real sugar. I wake up in the morning thinking about it, and I savor the ritual of steeping that teabag and blending in just the right amount of sweetness and light.

The lesson goes beyond a mere fondness for better tasting tea. It's a reminder not to stray too far from the roots of what made me love something in the first place. It's a kick-in-the butt that let me know it's okay to enjoy little indulgences that might add a calorie or a pound, but also add flavor and substance and pleasure.

So here's to honeymoon lessons. I raise my mug in a toast to all of them – the big ones, the small ones, and the ones that leave you breathless and smiling two months later.


Melania Tolan said...

YES. *nods in accordance and then sips her tea* Love my English Breakfast Tea.

inkgrrl said...

Huzzah for the simple things! And Congrats again on your new life!

Sarah Jane said...

Tea according to Jane: straight black Assam, a tsp of half and half and one spoon of sugar.

Angel Nicholas said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful honeymoon and brought a few things back that won't fade away with the tans and jellyfish marks. Congratulations! :-)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Congratulations on the wedding and the honeybout tmoon (though I'm sorry the jellyfish). I like your description of tea, though I've always been a coffee addict (my dreams are filled with coffee beans).

Michelle Wolfson said...

When my kids were babies we gave them whole milk and oh, my coffee was so deeee-licious then. For a while after we had to switch them to 2%, I continued to buy whole milk just for my coffee, but eventually there stopped being room in the fridge. Maybe when they go to college.

Deborah Blake said...

I don't believe in artificial or replacement sugars (mostly poisonous, as far as I can tell, and I'm allergic to stevia, which is okay because it tastes like cat piss). I use the less processed sugars (like turbino) which still have a little bit of their natural goodness, or mostly use honey or maple syrup if I am making something like granola.

And I will happily put half and half in my tea if I have it in the house, although usually it is 1% or 2%.

Sugar in moderation is okay (in large amounts it is the devil, unfortunately) and fat isn't the evil it has come to be considered.

Life it too short to put crap in your tea.