I’ve been standing at something of a precipice for many weeks now, maybe longer. Yesterday at Easter, I was just slightly on edge all day, having spent part of my morning working through a pros and cons list that ultimately was only a little revealing. I’ve been asked to apply for a new job, a job I would profess do being a “dream job” of sorts, though the truth is I feel often that I may already have my dream job — I’ll thank that select handful of readers with intimate knowledge of my workplace to use discretion, and allow me to be the one to say something more specific to a broader audience if and when such a thing is necessary. Yesterday, spending time with family, I couldn’t get it off my mind. I had told Sonja we needed to have a long sit down talk when we got home, even before we had walked out of the house for church I told her that, and, as ever, my faithful wife agreed.
The afternoon was spent with copious amounts of wonderful food (though sadly little wine) in the presence of family, and from time to time I almost forgot about what was weighing me down. My mother-in-law had purchased an inflatable mattress that, much like the cushions from my grandmother’s couch in my youth, became a thing of imagination for our kids. Titus was told it was a boat, and wanted everyone in it with him, along with all of his toys, while Zooey strengthened her muscles by devoting herself to climbing in and back out repeatedly. It was a joyful afternoon, and I even got a nap in. After a dinner of leftovers however, and borrowing my wife’s step-dad’s concrete tools for work on the patio this weekend, we headed home. Once in the door, I grabbed a bottle of wine from the cellar and we put our kids to bed, then put away our groceries (which HyVee had attempted to deliver for reasons neither of us understand, then left upon the back step) and began our “meeting” about the decision I have to make.
The wine had been out of the cellar for a full hour, but hadn’t warmed to room temperature in that time. I had forgotten how long it could take. Annoyed but with few options, we took turns sitting on it as if it were an egg. I felt as if the conversation could not begin until the wine had been poured, so patiently we bided our time. When at last we had warmed our chick to near hatch, I took the eighteen-year-old-egg into the kitchen to perform a lobotomy on its aging shell.
I have always thought that people were more inclined to regret the things they don’t do, rather than the things they do, ultimately being gratified by the risks they choose to take, and I’ve counseled people in this manner several times. That being said, a family man must think differently than a man who lives simply in fear of regret. This bottle of wine was a gamble, selected deliberately for the occasion, and symbolic in that way. A producer I know mostly for low-end grocery store plunk, I had gotten what seemed like a good deal on a half a case of mixed old bottles of their higher end stuff, ranging in vintage from ten to twenty years of age. I profess to being a gambling man, though thankfully I seem to know my limits and can thus far be counted on to exercise self restraint. Truth be told, from poker to fantasy football to blackjack to betting on games, I lose a lot more than I win, yet like so many others I remain enamored with the thrill of sudden, massive payoffs. The most important principle I have is that I never bet more than I can afford to lose — but if a career change could be considered in terms of a gamble, then it is a high stakes wager indeed.
In the vein of gambling, after I removed the foil on the neck of the bottle, the cork looked gorgeous, and solid, so I decided to set aside my osso, which was in-hand, in favor of a traditional corkscrew. “You dumb son of a bitch,” I muttered to myself as the cork broke off halfway down the neck of the bottle, precisely where my tool ended, leaving an unretrievable stub in the neck that I fumbled after with my osso in vain for several minutes. Not all gambles pay off. Most don’t, in fact. In the end, I required the assistance of a strainer and a kabob skewer to get wine out of the bottle.
Eighteen years ago, when this wine was made, I was making choices that still effect me today. I chose my career field most importantly, one that I’m still in today and still love a great deal. Though there are no shortage of trying moments, what I do on a daily basis still brings me great joy and, I would like to believe, does similarly for my students as well. These thoughts were not far from my mind as I pondered and discussed things with my ever-patient wife last night, over this bottle of wine.
A nose of currant and leather, dark earthy funk abounds with a faint chocolatey undertone rounding out the bouquet. Bricking has occurred substantially on what was once a dark, purple body. On the palate, plum and blackberry, lingering tannic structure, notes of mild pipe tobacco and forrest floor. The finest pieces of sediment, almost undetectable individually, combine to thicken the wine and provide a plush, velvety mouthfeel that is enjoyable, at least to me. That sediment lingered in the bottom of my glass after I took my last sips. The wine evolved over time,opening up substantially and coming into its own. This is not the $8 Zinfandel I associate with this producer. This was really something quite nice — a gamble that paid off. They don’t all.
By the end of the evening, and the end of the bottle, Sonja and I had come to consensus about what was best for our family, as well as for me personally, as it related to this most difficult of decisions. I felt comfortable in the option selected mutually, knowing we had arrived at our conclusion together, if slightly uncomfortable in the knowledge that I have a few tough conversations to have in the coming week — in addition to my usual obligations, commitments, and distractions. But with the kids slumbering high above us in our house, nothing is more important than knowing I am acting on their behalf, putting the family first, and as usual, attempting to do what I think right. I slept well last night.
Cheers to making tough decisions,