Addiction Recovery Story #34, Blue Vervain: Small Comforts for a Blue Lady

Alice Garbarini Hurley
6 min readMay 21, 2021

I can weather the elements. I can bloom after winter darkness. I can seek beauty and light, and small creature comforts —fashion, makeup, flowers and coffee — can help me along the way. This is #34 in the story series I started 1/31/21.

Straight from her Nature Journal: Blue Vervain, watercolor, Annie Hurley, July 2020. Proud of our daughter — biologist, botanist, artist and good person — headed to University of North Florida in August for a two-year cyanobacteria research fellowship. This art brings beauty. It was not always that way. As I do, our beloved Annie has faced dark times.

I could fall flat on my face now, or curl up in donut position (a term I coined when our white Sugar furball curled up into a tight, tucked round on the sofa).

My heart is heavy over some sad realities in my life #atthismomentintime. They are a burden to hold.

But rather than retreating, I am sitting at a small, round wood Starbucks table in The Mills at Jersey Gardens, the Elizabeth, New Jersey mall with a fancy name. It is eight minutes by car from the program our Brunetti attends every weekday. Rather than barrel along the Turnpike on the 35-minute trek back home, when it’s my turn to drive, I pack lunch and my Rose Gold laptop, zipped in its neoprene Lilly Pulitzer case.

I come to the mall to write.

I have always enjoyed working with other people, in an office. I thrive on personal connections. For today, I sit with my back to the glass Starbucks storefront, where the friendly, helpful young women work. For today, they are my co-workers, scanning my rewards bar code, asking if that’s enough half and half. They and the travelers with rolling suitcases, like the ones sold here at Tumi and Kipling—they are my colleagues for today. Many speak languages I do not understand.

I hear canned music. I see shops and kiosks: Japanese QL, Swarovski, Torrid, Banter by Piercing Pagoda, Flying Fantasy II balloons, Helzberg Diamonds Outlet and Candy Dream. We are so close to Newark Airport that in the parking lot, we can see planes soaring loftily, like toy plastic jets.

Annie (blog name Figgy) must have seen Blue Vervain somewhere. I think I’ve had it in our hit-or-miss garden. Fig has her eyes to the ground for plants to sketch and paint, and her ears to the sky to listen for birdsong and the tiny feathered friend on our neighbors’ tall tree trunk.

I think I have Pink Vervain in our back garden. But I can’t verify that. What I can report, according to, is:

Alice Garbarini Hurley

Magazine maven, craft coffee lover, legal guardian. Passionate about fashion and lipstick — though it may not look that way when I dash to the supermarket.