When the winter in Wisconsin grew harsh, we had tea parties.
Not the political gathering or marijuana smoking tea parties, but the tea parties where you make green or black or oolong tea and then you drink it together.
The kind where you light fires, and let the ghost sounds of Bon Iver fill the cracks in conversation, and wait for the whistling tea pot to raise its voice.
We had that kind of tea parties.
The parties had started out small. My roommate Parker suggested we have some people over for tea one night, so we did.
And we thought it was fun, so we had people over for tea the next week. And the next week and the next week and the next week.
We invited everyone we knew and the friends of everyone we knew and everyone we knew that didn’t have friends.
And what started out as five people grew to ten, and then twenty, and then fifty.
We served tea by the gallons. We met new people. We talked about deep ideas, and we talked about shallow excitements, and we laughed at the ways we were different.
We were reminding the winter that we loved it, but it would not conquer us.
We were showing our busyness that we were stable and gentle and perhaps even made of glass.
We were telling each other that our stories were important, and that there was a place for us.
And these tea parties, they were good. They felt right.
But soon, they started to dissolve.
The people stopped coming, the conversations limped, and it wasn’t long before the tea parties ended for good.
Sometimes I wondered what happened, why people stopped coming. I wondered if busyness had crept in through the spaces between the floorboards, or if the cold weather had found its way inside the door. I wondered if I was an awkward host, or if should have done things differently, or if people stopped liking me.
And maybe it was one of those things. I don’t know.
But I think it was probably just a result of the fact that good times come and good times go. Excitement turns into idleness and things that were going so well get stuck.
And things that feel right? They often end.
And there isn’t a rhyme or reason to it. It just happens.
Yet, we blame ourselves. We wonder what we could have said differently, or how we could have loved with more of our hearts, or how we could have been wiser or cooler or less of an idiot.
But the truth is, all things break. No matter how perfect or imperfect we are, no matter if we deserve it or not, things break. And it sucks.
But the other truth is, all things get put back together.
The good times go, sure. But they also come back. Maybe they come back in different forms and don’t look the same, but they come back.
And things that die resurrect, and things that are broken are restored, and things that once felt right get replaced by things that are right.
In this life, we experience the ups and downs, the comings and goings, the endless circle of beginnings and endings. We experience it deep inside our bones, and we carry the scars and pictures and memories to prove it.
But someday, there will be no endings.
There will be no breaking and there will be no self-blame and there will be no wondering what we could have done differently to make the good times last.
There will only be beginnings. There will only be eternal goodness. There will be ups without downs, and comings without goings.
And we will have parties. Not the kind of parties that are awkward, or that limp or dwindle.
But the kind of party where we remind heartbreak that we are free.
Where we show anxiety that we are strong and vulnerable and perhaps even made of the foundation of the universe.
The kind of party where we know that we are valuable, and loved, and have a spot at the table, forever.
That kind of party.