Each weekend that I’ve escaped the city and the confinement of my supermarket’s warehouse has emphasized how voracious I am for pause and sunlight. Winery hopping, for me, is not about a profligate’s drunken afternoons; I get a sense of calm when walking through vineyards. The way the tendrils of the vines wrap around the trellises. The way the soil sinks beneath my feet. The way blocks are aligned systematically by grape but the clouds, weeds, and deer don’t care. The way each bottle’s contents can tell you what happened that year, historically and in the ground. The natural progress of a vine and the desire to pump out millennial-targeted gallons of fruit-forward elixirs is the simulacrum of our impatience for growth. I’m reading this book and there’s an excerpt that nailed what wine, beyond being a time capsule, does:
“Hell, wine teaches us this. If we’d only listen. It teaches us to take things as they come. In the vineyard, but also in the glass. Slow down, sip, savor.”
We forgot, or maybe just I forgot, how to do this. Even my writing – which has been a mental stretching exercise that allows my thoughts to flow into digital tributaries and gives me a sense of personal decompression – has taken a backseat to the barrage of professional epithets on my attention span. My mind is so tangled, so terrorized, poked and prodded like a dead jellyfish carcass sprawled out on the sand or trapped in a shallow tide pool. It feels good to type again.
Even in these strangely, wet summer days, the curvy, sexy silhouette of glass bottles coated in condensation gives me a second of focus. Watching a drop of water slide down the neck of foggy existence makes the world around it freeze for half a minute, like when your autofocus blurs the surroundings enveloping your subject.
The death of Anthony Bourdain, world-traveling foodie storyteller of the page and screen, has stung deeper than expected given our mentorship was rooted in my imagination. I’ve been pouring over articles written by and about him and podcasts that commemorate his raw soul. Those that ask questions about suicide, excess, hospitality, and happiness. Even in his passing, he explores layers of the human condition that we have yet to understand and introduces bridges to the unknown that we haven’t had the courage to cross.
Sharing a meal or a glass of wine can bring about the feel of coming home. Eating a fried ball of kibbeh dunked in molasses left over from the plate of marinated soujok or a winemaker’s latest white whom they treat like they’re introducing their child to the outside world, a parent letting go of their baby’s hand before they walk into their first day of preschool. Their children need time to mature while they’re out there unarmored. Let it lay down refers to how a bottle needs to rest for years for the complexity to find its place, let it breathe to give it time in its environment, give it a sense of where it now is. It’s about patience for that unfolding, that extraction of pleasure that can come from touching every edge of a carafe, more surface area of discovery. Maybe each of us is a bottle that needs to lay down, that needs to breathe, that needs to be consumed by another in order to come home.
If you need to talk to someone, we have a suicide prevention hotline.
If in Lebanon, call 1564. If in the US, call 800-273-TALK (8255).