Back in the late 1980s, I bought a pottery mug during a lunch break from my summer clerking position at a Baltimore law firm. Harborplace, then a vibrant destination filled with artisans and food stalls, was only a quick walk away from my office. That’s where I found my mug waiting for me. The rounded shape felt good in my hands. The mug was both eclectic and practical, and we bonded instantly.

So much was changing. I was two months pregnant, and my husband and I had just left our much-loved downtown apartment for our first home a few miles north. The clerking gig was my foray into the professional world. If I did well at the law firm that summer, I’d have a job when I graduated from law school at the end of the next school year. A “work mug” seemed appropriate, especially since I drank coffee in amounts measurable in vats rather than cups.

Both the mug and I returned to the law firm after graduation the following year, where it lived on my desk between trips to the coffee station, other offices, and conference rooms.

We both came home for good a few years later. The mug transitioned seamlessly while I learned that women toting briefcases got more respect than women toting baby carriers, and that tasks completed at home would not stay “done.” We navigated toddler ballet, preschool, and a new baby. Each morning, before everyone woke up, my hands would slip comfortably around the mug as I let it remind me that I had once practiced law.

We moved to a different house. The mug accompanied me on car rides to new schools and new activities. It provided boatloads of coffee as I shared my kids’ experiences and discoveries. Most of the mug’s glaze had worn off, and it was starting to lose heat more quickly. Still, it remained “me.” Nobody else every reached for it or even asked if they could use it. I started to joke that if the mug ever broke, I would probably collapse as well. We were intertwined. We shared memories of another place, another time.

My girls graduated from college and shot out into their own adventures. Traitorous thoughts of replacing the mug occasionally crossed my mind, especially when my coffee cooled only minutes after I poured it. I found beautiful mugs in pottery stores and at craft fairs, but I never pulled the trigger. Even though the memories that came with the mug no longer tugged at my heart, letting go of it still felt like a big goodbye.

But life changes constantly, sometimes in big ways, sometimes infinitesimally. If we’re lucky, we get to evolve. We get to build on past experiences and facets instead of clinging to them as if they’ll fade away the second we stop reminding ourselves that they once existed.

One day last summer, my daughter and her wife gave me a gift basket. Among the wonderful and thoughtful items in it was a mug.

It took only one look.

My original mug is still here, hanging on the kitchen mug tree should I ever feel like using it. I rarely do.

The memories are lovely, but it’s time to move on.