The Postscript

A perfect cup

Carrie Classon

It’s important to have a good coffee cup.

My husband, Peter, makes the coffee, and has since we were married. We will be celebrating nine years of marriage this spring, so you might not be surprised to hear that I no longer remember how to make coffee. This is called “learned helplessness” in psychology circles, and it is certainly true in my case. Peter makes the coffee, and I drink it. This seems to me like a fair division of labor. And having the proper cup is essential.

I am reminded of this every time I return to Mexico, because I do not pack a coffee cup.

Our little furnished apartment has a perfectly fine selection of matching white ceramic coffee cups sitting on the shelf. But none of these cups is my cup. And so, usually on the first day, I will head out to the market where handcrafted items are sold in search of a perfect cup.

Walking through the market, it is surprising how relatively few coffee cups I see. I suppose most people do not have a cup sitting beside them all day, or at least for the first six hours of every day. I don’t think this is nearly as common in Mexico as it is in the U.S. But still, there are a lot of nice cups and, eventually, I find my new cup.

“What do you think?” I ask Peter when I triumphantly return with my new perfect cup.

“Isn’t that the same cup you had before?” he asks.

Peter does not understand. He drinks his coffee from a white ceramic cup. He does not realize what a wonderful feeling it is when I find my new cup. I do not take my new cup for granted for a moment. I admire it as I drink my coffee. My cup is usually colorful and always hand-painted and, once my new cup is sitting on my green Formica desk, all is right in my little world.

In six weeks’ time, I will have formed a bond with my new coffee cup. And when we return to the U.S., I cannot bear to leave the cup behind. Because this cup holds more than my coffee. This cup holds the memories I am making, day by day, sip by sip, as I sit at my desk in Mexico. It holds the bright markets and the feel of the round cobblestone streets beneath my feet and the smiles of the countless friendly people I meet every day.

So, when it is time to leave, I take the new coffee cup with me, and I use it every day I am in the U.S. until we leave for Mexico again. Then I put my new cup away in the cupboard, and when I arrive back in Mexico, I start the process all over again.

Some people (people like Peter) might detect a potential flaw in this routine. Over time, my cupboard in the U.S. is becoming filled with beautiful Mexican coffee cups.

But it seems to me there are worse problems a person could have. Every time I open my cupboard, I am reminded of markets and streets and smiles.

Today, I am enjoying a beautiful new cup I bought just days ago. It is several shades of blue, and I already know there is no possibility I could leave this cup behind. Because this perfect cup holds things I want to keep forever. And I know for certain my coffee always tastes a little better when I drink it out of a perfect cup.

Till next time,


Carrie Classon

is a nationally syndicated columnist, author, and performer. She champions the idea that it is never too late to reinvent oneself in unexpected and fulfilling ways. Learn more about Carrie and her memoir, “Blue Yarn,” at