So, artists in any fashion are often joked about as being drug addicts and alcoholics and generally messed up people. A lot of the time, this is true. lol.
But this is not one of those stories!
The people who are closest to me tease me about being a wino, but the alcohol content has absolutely nothing to do with why I love the beverage. Over the years, it has become a ritual of relaxation for me–there is nothing like coming home after a hard day of work and taking a bubble bath while listening to some music and drinking a glass of red wine. It is also something that, from a very young age, I equated with success. And yes, I know that sounds really negative for the psyche, but let me explain.
One of the people I admired very much while growing up was my best friend’s mom. She was tall and statuesque and had spent her life in the theatre business. She would have parties for the kids and their parents at her luxurious two-story home and would walk around laughing and mingling, glass of red wine in hand, her black clothing flowing like living art as she walked. To a thirteen-year-old with a love for the arts, it epitomized everything I wanted to be when I grew up. Artsy, beautiful, successful…and a glass of red wine seemed like the perfect symbol that stuck in my naive teenage brain.
Too bad I thought red wine was horrendously nasty by the time I was 18, and the only way I could stomach it was if it was a glass or Arbor Mist with maybe a splash of Seven Up. You can imagine the damper this was putting on my future goal of being a wine-wielding arts aficionado.
Enter my mother and her best friend, who I commonly refer to as “Aunt Michele.” My aunt Michele had done freelance housecleaning for years, and one of her longtime clients had moved to a placed called Cambria, CA. It was right on the Southern California coast, and she would let Aunt Michele come and spend vacation time there as so long as she cleaned the house before she left. So, basically rent-free, all things considered.
Mom and Aunt Michele asked me if I wanted to come along during the summer I was 18. What a silly question that was. Of COURSE I wanted to go! I adored the ocean, and I reveled in any kind of traveling I got to do.
So, for ten days, I was was able to explore the California coast with two of my favorite people, taking in such sights as Hearst Castle and Big Sur, San Luis Obispo and Salmon Creek. They let me drive the convertible Mustang they had rented while rocking out to Metallica and we had a whole floor of Aunt Michele’s client’s beautiful home to ourselves, which was right across the street from the ocean. It was like being at the best resort.
But the thing that I really took away from this experience was my love of wine.
We had gone wine-tasting one day, and while I never expected to get served anything, the sommeliers kept giving me amounts to taste, obviously knowing I was with two adults. How awesome was that? Made me feel super important at the time!
And while I didn’t start really loving red wine until I was around twenty-four, we all found a wine at EOS Estate Winery that suited all of our palates at the time: Muscat Canelli.
It was sweet, crisp, and refreshing, a desert wine, but one that we all adored the flavors of.
But the wine was not what really mattered after everything was said and done.
That evening, we went back to the house, ate dinner, and finished it off with a glass of Muscat Canelli, each of us with our own, and we went out onto the balcony that overlooked the ocean in the distance. It was sunset, and it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen up till that point, the sunset highlighting everything in purple, pink, and gold. And we were laughing, the three of us. Laughing about all sorts of things. And I remember thinking to myself how happy I was, and how this was what relaxation was, this was what peace was.
And later that week, after I had been peer-pressured into going to some beach party kegger with a bunch of Cal Poly kids who were three years older than me, and me being the only one strong enough to help the one guy with us beforehand carry the keg, and with some random guy spilling beer in my purse after trying to pick me up, and after I had spent the night feeling completely awkward and out of my element, I much preferred that tranquil feeling I had gotten drinking wine on the balcony with my family.
And as the years went by, my love of the sweet wine transferred to a love of white zinfandel, which then transferred to a love of dryer but juicy white wines, and then eventually to a love of most all things red. I still credit that sunset on the balcony. Because as much as I would like to say it all went back to my friend’s mom, it really didn’t–even though I DO flow through my house in artsy attire with my glass of red wine during dinner parties, I also wander around in my sweats. It’s all in perspective. The memory I think of first when someone asks me why I love wine was that one night–so peaceful, so perfect, so full of laughter and light and innocence.
That is what I feel and remember every time I have a glass of wine.
And I sometimes wonder if that is what relaxes me instead of the alcohol.