“On cellars and money,” Warning, this post is about beer (sort of)

Sonja and I have two very different schools of thought when it comes to money. She’s a saver on the level of zealotry, and purchased the last car she bought with cash. I, on the other hand, view money as a means to an end, the two noble purposes of the otherwise root-of-all-evil papers and silver being to help other people, and to provide myself and my loved ones memorable experiences. To me, a noble use of money is to give it to a homeless person, and another good use would be to, for example, fly to my great friend Matt’s wedding in Ireland next year. Sonja doesn’t dislike charity at all, much less travel, but we do have to make some compromises from time to time when it comes to how we spend our income.

At this point, I’ve probably got about five hundred bottles of wine in my cellar — and I hope over the years to drink most of them. I realized at some point that this wine is a lot like money in this regard, my cellar like a bank. What’s the use of having a well-stocked cellar when I die? It will be about as useful to me as a billion dollars when I’m busy feeding worms, and my opinion is that a better use of the contents of my cellar is to enjoy those bottles with friends and create memories while I’m alive.

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This spring, another great friend of mine with the same name as the one getting married in Ireland brought his wife and infant child to stay with us one night. He brought with him some cult beers made in Chicago where he lives, beers I know and really enjoy. Bourbon County is neat stuff — aged in bourbon barrels, the stout becomes even more malty, with strong notes of molasses and some coffee notes, dark sweet fruits, and a touch of bitters. When Matt gave me these beers, I put them in my cellar knowing they would age and saving them for a special occasion. I didn’t have to wait long.

Logan and Kyle are two of my best friends, and they are brothers. Logan is one of those friends whom I think of often but speak to less. Once roommates, since he graduated undergrad he has lived in Hawai’i, Djibouti, and Mons, the last one in Belgium being the closes to my home in Nebraska. After the military he moved to New York, but I still see him only on special occasions. Whenever I worked in Rwanda while he lived in Mons, actually in Binche, I’d route through Brussels and we’d either hang out in Belgium or go see another country together — usually France or Germany.  It was on one of those trips that I visited Vouvray, and met Logan’s now-wife, Deb. Those are special memories to me.

Last night, Logan and Kyle stopped by, Logan being back in Nebraska for the weekend on a rare visit. For Logan’s bachelor party and wedding, these two, Matt who is getting married next year, and I spent a lot of time enjoying the great beers of Belgium and Germany, so beer seemed like a good offering to these guests last night, and special beer seemed fitting for such good friends. In the end, we only drank the 2014 and 2016, sitting in the brisk autumn air on the front porch, sharing a little tobacco — mine from a pipe, which seemed to compliment the beer, and catching up after far too long. It became yet another special memory, and perhaps a little more special in that we weren’t sharing a Coors Light. Don’t keep your cellars, nor your bank accounts, too full, my friends.

Cheers to helping others and to creating memorable experiences with those we love,

Mark

 

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