Yesterday, in an animated fashion, I was recounting the details of our 8-course degustation meal had in the Barossa Wine Region over the long Australia Day Weekend (I ate pigeon! It was quite good, lean and beefy and not at all gamey, though I was disappointed in myself that I could not quite get over the fact that I was eating a flying rat). I concluded my anecdote by saying “It was fun. I felt really grown up.”
Then it occurred to me, that I am 41 years old. 41 years. Yet, I only ever ‘feel’ grown up on rare fleeting occasions. Most of the time, I feel like a confused little kid, constantly befuddled and amazed by the workings of the world and always uncertain of my place in it. This thought was quickly followed by the revelation that if I don’t feel grown up by now, I likely never will. Which made me suspect that most people probably feel the same way and those few people who do feel grown up all the time are probably the very people I typically classify as boring.
I remember the first time I felt ‘grown up’ I was 17. My grandfather had given me his old 76 Ford Pinto, and I spent the day purchasing insurance, getting a smog check, and standing in line at the DMV. At each stop, I wrote a rather large check from my account that had been funded by working extra hours at the library (among other more creative and less taxable means of income generation). It was an immensely satisfying feeling to run around town taking care of business, one of responsibility and maturity.
It occurs to me that people become addicted to that emotion, which might be why people create incredibly busy lives for themselves - because even insignificant activities, like wallpapering the bathroom, arranging fake flowers, or shopping for undersized odd-shaped pillows that perfectly compliment the red highlights in the bedroom drapes can provide a sense of accomplishment. Fortunately, my own addictions tend to be more meditative than industrious. Nonetheless, I still enjoy those ephemeral moments of grown-upedness when I ever-so-briefly feel like an adult steeped in self actualization.
And that is why I love going to wine country.
Even more than drinking wine itself (which, don’t get me wrong, is absolutely wonderful), the rituals and culture of wine and wine making are the embodiment of the process of cultivated maturation which seep into my psyche as I learn about the challenges of viticulture, the turmoil of harvest, and the complexities of ageing. As I practice using the language of appreciation, I develop a sensation of mellow profundity. Contemplating the multilayered metaphors of enological traditions, I become the embodiment of wisdom and gain a deep understanding of the subtleties of the human experience.
Then, after the third or fourth glass, the spell is broken, and once more I am a giddy little child with a remarkably low threshold of entertainment: