Approaching J-Tea, one unaware of what it is may find their self lost; an oddly futuristic, modern architectural establishment that few would mistake for a tea shop. All the same, that’s what you get when you walk in — more teas than perhaps you’d ever seen mixed with tiny clay pots for sale on brightly polished wooden shelves. The light is dim, but not dark, and chant-like, massage parlor style music chimes just out of the foreground.
Two middle-aged women, presumably Eugene residents — thick fleece, sandals with socks, an unusual affinity to sometimes seemingly endless rain — sit at the bar chatting. They are the only ones here beside the tea maker and me. I steady pen and take on the I’m not paying attention to what you’re talking about look.
“It’s not a matter of money,” said the darker-haired of the two, a bit sarcastically, as if it really were about money and she just didn’t want to seem the type.
“I know, I know,” her friend in the tan cardigan reassuringly responded. “He’s been taking adavantage of you like this for years.”
I wondered whom, found that I was leaning, albeit obviously, to find out. Who was this character that they were gossiping about, and then…
“I mean, he’s my son, I want the best for him–”
“–but he has to figure that out for himself!” burst the triumphant friend. “He leans on you and leans on you and pretty soon you’re not there and he has nowhere to lean. You have to believe that he can take care of himself, you know?” And on she went with her advice about tough parenting, not just giving in and how if you do that you just create a co-dependent.
“He gets so down and puts himself in these awful situations. I want to help him. I just want to help, but I know that the way I help is not helping him. It’s just a lot,” she said, shaking her head in what appeared to be a dismal reluctance to walk away from her son’s problems and perhaps a sense of resolve about how to act. “Things have to change,” she said, resignedly.
Her friend in the tan cardigan reached a hand behind her friend’s back and placed it gently on the shoulder. She closed in the gap between her own mouth and the ear of her friend and whispered for a moment, indecipherable. Though I couldn’t make out what the lady in the cardigan said to her dark-haired and troubled friend, it seemed to help, and before I left they’d gone on to talk about little nothings and daily life in a more cheerful tone.
J-Tea resides on a sunny corner, sky lit through the ceiling, a calming, relaxing place to come for quiet, or with friends, to enjoy myriad and all new kinds of teas.