Year before last my friend Tobin gave me a coffee cup. It was big and white enameled and insulated steel. It said “Yeti” on the box, which I’d never heard of.
I almost tossed it because 1) I had a coffee cup and 2) more junk. But I didn’t because it was a gift from a very thoughtful person. Tobin isn’t random or impulsive like me. So I stuck it in the back of the cupboard as my life was fragmenting and forgot about it.
When my lease died last July and I became officially unhoused, I culled everything I owned. There were three categories: Dumpster, storage, or going with me on my bike. Storage items all fit into a few cardboard boxes. Dumpster items were even fewer.
Impulsively, I hooked the Yeti onto my rack. It was too heavy, too capacious, and really belonged in the trash. But I was going to give it a chance to prove itself to me before chucking it. I owed that much to Tobin.
Who knew that on a journey outdoors, or rather a bikeabout of indeterminate length you might need a cup?
The cup stepped up on Day 1. I had camped illegally and needed to drive in tent stakes. No pounding device and no rocks nearby. “Okay, Yeti, you’re at bat.”
I pounded the shit out of the stakes and terribly dented the unused cup. Then the next morning I made coffee and learned that these cups keep things boiling hot. It has something to do with insulation or magic and etcetera.
Over time, my cup and I became pals. Hot coffee, hot oatmeal, hot coffmeal, instant soup, and never again abused as a battering ram. Clipped to a carabiner and stowed in the mesh on my backpack, my Yeti has become grimy, scratched, and de-enameled from the bitter daily work of travel and camping by bike.
Of course now I know that Yeti is a BRAND and a STATUS SYMBOL and A SIGN OF THE RUGGED OUTDOORS. But the cups I see all look shiny and clean and new. The campers I meet who have the same cup … well, they simply don’t have the same cup.
The uglier mine gets, the more I like it. I take care of it but don’t worry about the grime and the scars. The more beat-up it gets, the more tightly I hold it close. The more I appreciate it. And here’s what’s funnier: every time I look at it, drink from it, or clip it to my pack, I think with gratitude about the person who thought enough of me to make it a gift.
What if all gifts were that special?
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