I have an awesome collection of Starbucks mugs-mostly the travel kind, no handle, double wall. I think they are all limited editions. I didn’t know they were limited editions. I didn’t even know there were more than a couple of designs. And I really didn’t know this would be a story worth telling until today.
I got my first mug about three years ago. I was meeting a friend for coffee and I saw the mugs for sale as we waited on line. Starbucks never stood out as a place that carried unique items, nor anything fun, interesting, or particularly useful to me. As we stood waiting, about 7 people deep in line, I turned to my left and on a shelf at exactly eye level was a very colorful woman staring at me from the side of a coffee mug. She was actually more of a mermaid or siren, and for some reason she just made me smile. Being a siren, she must’ve called out to me.
My friend offered to buy her for me. I certainly didn’t need a fancy coffee mug, and when I saw the price, I definitely wouldn’t let him. After he insisted, the only way I thought to prevent this (because I didn’t want him thinking this was more than just a friendly coffee!) was to buy it myself. So, I sucked it up and paid the $20 for the cute little travel mug.
I either really loved her, or I just wanted to get my money’s worth, because I used that mug almost every day. I found reasons to take my coffee in the car with me. I’d bring it to Starbucks and have them fill it directly. I’d get compliments on her wherever I went. One friend even took a picture because she wanted to get the same mug for her sister as a gift. I told her not to worry, it was Starbucks and they would have an endless supply.
A few days later my friend informed me that she couldn’t find this mug anywhere. I was a little surprised, but I figured she hadn’t looked very hard, found something else and moved on.
One morning I was cleaning up from breakfast, turned too quickly and knocked my happy woman into my sink (that damn mug had to be hand washed, and using it every day it was a wonder this hadn’t happened until now). She was still whole but a crack now ran all the way from the lip down the inside and around the base. The cup would fill but liquid would get trapped and the outside would get hot when filled with coffee. I now understood what double wall meant. Bummer! I don’t get attached to too many things, but I began to really like her company in the mornings.
I figured I’d easily get another, but when I looked, I found my friend was right. There were none anywhere-not even online! I have never collected anything before and now learned why “limited editions” are such great marketing ploys!
Re-enter my friend from the coffee shop. Remember him? Well, by this point, he was more than just a friend. He knew how much I loved that stupid mug and the very next time he saw me he brought me a red gift box. I saw Starbucks on it, and “limited edition,” and I got excited. It was…NOT her, but a similar mug, gold and white, with some sort of mermaid representation on the front. He was smiling, “I got you a new mug. They didn’t have the one that broke.” I can’t believe he even remembered. Maybe it wasn’t the same, but it meant so much more this time around!
Months passed. That same sweet man, who was now a much more integral part of my life, brought me another present out of the blue. He was thrilled that he noticed that the new Starbucks holiday collection came out and they had the same mug again! Well…almost the same, but not quite. Of course I loved her just as much—colorful and happy as she was. And that he thought of me. Again. My heart felt huge!
Now I had three mugs (though one, unusable), and I was becoming known to carry one around at all times. For my birthday I happened to be at Starbucks (you’d think I live there-I don’t!) with a friend and she saw a “perfect gift,” a beautiful bronze colored mug with a scale pattern. She said it reminded her of me. I tried to talk her out of it, but it was lovely… And now I had four.
Mid winter of the next year, well past Christmas, not even close to Valentine’s Day, Scott comes over with a gift. (I know, I was already spoiled by this point.) I recognized the red box. I thought it was funny now—Starbucks mugs as gag gifts. I opened this box over a year after my original beautiful siren had broken. Starbucks was now far into many further marketing iterations of her image, yet there she was! Unbroken, new in plastic, and staring right up at me. The same face that stared back from the shelf so long ago. How in the world???
There is a long story about a connection he had with Starbucks and a request for this very mug made many, many months before. It involved a letter and evidently a very determined employee! Months after he was told she didn’t exist anymore, someone found my girl in the back of a warehouse in Seattle or maybe in the stack of leftovers in the backroom of a Starbucks in Tuscaloosa after the Christmas sale was over. Whatever, I don’t care. I was so thrilled to see her, but so much more than that silly little mug that I never would have bought in the first place, was what that mug meant.
This man whom I had now known for well over a year, who came into my life at possibly THE most inopportune moment, who waited patiently and put up with so much, who loves harder and truer than anyone I’ve ever known, had taken this silly siren and turned her into a symbol of how far he would go for me, and for us.
Though I try to consciously count my blessings every day, be present, breathe and meditate, sometimes I forget how much I take for granted in this life. This morning when I was at Starbucks with a friend and she admired my siren, I felt warm when the story behind the mug came rushing back. I am far from materialistic, and I try not to get attached to the physical, but sometimes a mug is not just a mug.