It began an evening not unlike any other evening; we had returned from a wine and cheese tasting at Whole Foods with our friends, Chad and Anna (Channa), and had learned all about cheeses made from sheep’s milk. As we pulled into the garage, we divvyed up a few household chores and made plans to relax and enjoy ourselves. We walked in the door; Sonja turned left, toward the office, and I turned right, heading up the stairs toward the bedroom. Sonja never made the office, however. On her way there, she had to walk past our makeshift wine-cellar-slash-tasting-room in the far corner of the basement, and she urgently summoned me back.
“How in the crap did that happen?” she exclaimed, and I knew I was expected to turn around and find out what. When I joined her, however, I felt that perhaps her verb-age had been far understated. “F@#%,” I thought, surveying the wreckage. My immediate impulse was to blame the dog, but Mollie was upstairs in her kennel, impatiently waiting to be released. Slowly, things came into focus. The crime was certainly a grave one, but the only suspect on the list was gravity.
Being “wine people,” many of our wedding gifts reflected our passion for viticulture. Included among these were a beautiful set of crystal wine glasses embossed with our last initial (“G”), our first set of port wine glasses, several lovely bottles, and two gorgeous wall-mounted wine racks to help store all of these new treasures. Overnight, a beautiful collection was built up, and we always enjoy using these special items when we entertain guests.
What Sonja had discovered was the wreckage of so many of these gifts, which had seemingly exploded off the wall – we found crystal shards more than ten feet away from where the glasses had landed on the carpeted floor. In addition to our broken crystal and glassware, autographed bottles were toppled, several of my imported Trappist beer glasses had taken a dive, the couch was covered in shards, the hardwood bar was deeply scarred – even the wall seemed worse for wear (you know, where the screws and anchors had been pried out at a sharp angle.) All said, we figure it was well over $1,000 in damage.
Yet ultimately, it became a chance for reflection. I believe that Sonja’s first impulse might have been to cry, though she held back the tears. I watched sadly as my wonderful wife put on the best face she could, though I quickly asked her to retire to her work in the office and let me clean up the mess. Later, after the big chunks had been gathered and the vacuum run over the immediate area repeatedly – the sound what you would expect if you ran a Dyson over a gravel road – she joined me and we tidied up the last of it and together we reflected.
To drink from fine crystal is a luxury, as is to drink the lovely wines we are so fortunate to enjoy together. In a world in which there are still millions of people without clean water to drink, what we had lost could be summed up in one word: stuff. “It’s just stuff,” my wife said softly, tiny remnants of tears still in the corners of her eyes, “just possessions, I keep reminding myself.” She reminded me as well. It is disappointing to lose so many items, many of them special things from our wedding that we had hoped would become heirlooms, items that will be difficult if not impossible to replace. But Sonja is right. At the end of the day, they are mere possessions. We were fortunate to have such nice things, and we will still be fortunate people tomorrow after the garbage men have taken the pieces away. And in a manner almost unsettling, we find ourselves with a few less things, yet somehow feeling a little more blessed than we did an hour ago. Tonight we’ll drink our wine from cheaper, thicker glasses, and this will in essence be the full extent of our inconvenience. There’s no need to complain any further. After all, we still have wine to drink!