Months ahead of Day 297, my friend Emily informed me that she had just purchased a Fusebox wine blending kit during a Woot Off. She suggested I buy one too and blend my own wine as the thing I've never done before.
A now-seasoned "Wooter," I didn't ask many questions. I like wine and I like Emily and I like parties. Clearly I had nothing to lose. The next thing I knew, we'd planned a hypothetical wine blending party, time and place TBD.
Websites like Woot.com and Groupon have been so helpful in my journey to try new things. Unfortunately, since they've also encouraged me to make a lot of impulse purchases (wine blending kit, wha?), they’ve not been so helpful in keeping me debt free and financially sound.
Allow me to answer the popular question I’m always asked: "Is doing 365 new things expensive?"
Without a doubt, hell yes.
“Oh well, who cares, I'll pay my bills when I'm 30,” is what I usually tell myself. But at the rate I'm going, I could be 40 before I pay for all of my 29th year adventures.
But the wine blending kit sounded like a fun activity, so I bought it. It arrived at my apartment a few weeks later, and I did what I was doing with all of my mail at that time, and I put it on my kitchen table. And that's where it stayed for weeks, months even. The box, that was large and heavy, was like a centerpiece on the table. I’d stack my other mail on top of it, prop my purse up against it. And before long, I forgot the kit was even there.
That is, until Emily reminded me at work that we needed to start working out the details for our party. So we settled on a date, sorted out a guest list and began to plan.
For Emily, this party would be an opportunity to host a party at the condo she had just bought (which is so fabulous and wonderfully decorated and one of the reasons I am always contemplating buying my own place), and an opportunity for the both of us to introduce our friends to each other. A precursor to the “World's Colliding” birthday party I'd planned in my head.
Oh, and also an opportunity to blend wine, Day 297's thing I've never done before.
Emily and I laughed on Days 295 and 296 about how completely unprepared we were to host a party. We had barely talked about food, and I hadn't even checked the Evite to know who all was coming. But I know me, and I knew Emily and I wasn't concerned; I knew we'd pull it off.
We met at Publix after work, and shopped for food for our guests. The kit suggested we provide the wine blending participants with plenty of crackers and other bread so that they can cleanse their palate between tastings, but made no mention of what other foods might be appropriate for a wine party. So we bought what we liked.
Cheese, crackers, summer sausage, tomato, mozzarella, and basil sticks, grapes, brownies, chicken fingers.
Who said chicken fingers can't be paired with wine?
We rushed back to Emily's house to start setting up and I marveled her wide array of serving platters and decorative dishes. If we'd had this party at my apartment, we'd be eating food off of a broiling pan or a cookie sheet. Thinking about that, as I was chopping vegetables and sticking toothpicks in tomatoes and cheese, I began to feel a wide array of emotions, none of which had anything to do with a wine blending party.
When Emily told me a year ago that she was buying a condo, I remember feeling so proud of her, and so impressed that she, two years younger than I, had made such an adult-decision. And standing in her kitchen looking around at all of her pretty things, I couldn't help but smile that her home is such a perfect representation of her personality. It's elegant and classy, but welcoming and homey. I wouldn't be surprised if I walked into her home unannounced and found her wearing a fabulous outfit and posing for a Southern Living magazine spread. But I also wouldn't be surprised if I walked in to find her in lying on her couch eating ice cream and wearing her pajamas in the middle of the day either.
Being at Emily's house forced me to consider why I, in the almost six years I've lived in Atlanta, have yet to muster to courage to lay down roots in a place of my own.
A few years ago, I almost did. I made up my mind that I wanted to buy a place; I looked at dozens of houses and condos with some of my real estate friends, and found several that I liked. I spoke to mortgage brokers about home loans and was almost ready to make an offer on a place, but flaked at the last minute, letting someone else swoop in and get the house. Looking back, I know I wasn't ready for the financial and personal responsibility of home ownership, but I also know that wasn't the only reason I backed out.
For reasons I haven’t completely identified, I have been reluctant to establish financial roots in Atlanta. Buying a home of my own makes me feel anxious, like as if doing so means that I’ve trapped myself in a place I’m not sure I want to be, and one that I’d never be able to escape. But why, I wonder? I have so many friends here, a good job, and there’s tons of stuff to do. Yet, when I look at my own place I can’t help but feel ashamed that, while full of charm and character, my apartment hardly looks like it belongs to a girl who has established herself in a city; no, shamefully, my place looks like a college dormitory, full of hand-me-down, mismatched furniture. So why not settle into a nicely decorated home that I own, with matching utensils and decorative serving trays? Doing so would make my mother so happy.
I'm suspect that some of my reluctance to bite the bullet and buy something has to do with the expectation I had that when the time came for me to settle somewhere, I would be doing so with another person; and the seemingly overwhelming decisions of whether to stay or go, rent or buy, would be all be shared ones.
So there's that.
But shouldn’t “that” be a good thing? The power, the freedom and the wherewithal to do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want? I suppose, but for some reason, knowing that the sky really is the limit, is crippling me. I’m afraid to move, leaving everything and everyone that I know, and I’m afraid to stay, settling on my own and giving up on ever living anywhere else for a while. So I teeter that line of never really planting my feet, but never really exercising my wings.
I realize that what I’m about to say will likely set the woman’s movement back 50 years, but there is a part of me that finds having so much power debilitating. I’ve been in the driver’s seat of my own life for 29 years and I’m exhausted. And there are days when I'd gladly relinquish the keys to the right person and happily ride shotgun for a while. But not for the whole trip. And I get to choose where we eat. And what music we listen to.
Speaking of driving somewhere, I've lived in Atlanta for six years, and I feel like I’ve been thinking and talking about leaving for five of them. But if I was going to go, wouldn't I have gone already? I feel like I’m waiting for a sign that will tell me it’s time to move on, or time to stay, and it’s not coming. Why is it that the older I get the harder it is to identify what I want and go after it? Shouldn’t it be getting easier?
I recognized these are not party preparation normal people thoughts, so I tried to shake them out of my head and focus on the tasks at hand, feeling eternally grateful that this was a wine party and I’d be drinking with my friends very soon.
I don't know how, with our complete disorganization and my crazy internal commentary, but at 6pm, the time the party was supposed to start, Emily and I had everything set up and ready to go. White wine chilling, red wine sitting, hot chicken fingers plated, and our faces fixed, hair brushed.
And we waited.
And then we waited some more.
I went upstairs to Emily's room and posted a blog while we continued to wait.
We chuckled about what we were going to do with all of the food if no one showed up. Luckily we didn't have to because just as we started to consider our options, Emily's friend Elizabeth arrived. And then my other friend Emily came. And then Maribeth.
Shelley and Kyle were the last ones to come, arriving straight from their tennis lesson. We'd all already had some wine, so we were appropriately loosened up. I could sense apprehension coming from them, though, so I poured them each a glass of wine. They grabbed some food and then joined us at the table.
"So," Shelley said, taking a seat, "Is this like some sort of pyramid scheme?"
I almost spit my wine out onto the table.
"What?!," I laughed, "No! Why would you think that?"
"Oh you know," she went on, "People invite you over for a 'wine party' and the next thing you know you've signed up to be a distributor and they're making tons of money off of you."
I knew what she was talking about; I'd been invited to parties like that before too and I did not appreciate it. Certainly Shelley didn't think that I'd get involved in something like that. But I'd like to think if I was, I'd at least be a little more transparent about it.
I had anxiety for the rest of the night that some of my friends thought that I was dumb enough to get involved in a pyramid scheme, and terrible enough to get them involved in it.
Emily and I together tried to explain what we were going to do, which was a challenge, since even though we forced ourselves to read the instruction manual minutes before the guests arrived, we didn't really understand. We knew right away that we didn't have enough wine glasses to do it the exact way it was intended, so we made up the rules as we went along.
The Fusebox kit included several bottles of wine, recipe cards of blends, pipettes and a mixing cylinder ala chemistry class. The idea was to blend and try some of the recipes to determine what flavors we all preferred before going on our own and creating our own blends.
Going to wine country in northern California is on the list of things I cannot wait to do in my life, but I'm starting to wonder if the experience for me would be more about the gorgeous scenery than about the wine. Because after a couple of tastes of our concoctions, everything started to taste the same. They all just tasted like wine.
In front of each of us were paper place mats, provided in the kit, so that we could write down comments about each of the blends pertaining to their aroma, taste and finish. I don’t think anyone wrote anything down and the chances of us ever being able to recall what we drank or how we blended it are pretty much non-existent.
After a few recipes, we abandoned the blending and did what we do best when it comes to wine: drinking. And talking, mainly coming from my crazy friends. Poor Elizabeth and Emily. My friends dominated in numbers, and in volume, and everyone left with gray-stained teeth and purple lips.
I came to grips with the fact that “hosting a dinner party,” is probably not going to happen for me as one of the 365 things I’ve never done before, since lack a place large enough, and nice enough, to host outsiders. But thanks to good friends who are far more emotionally and financially responsible than me, who are willing to help me co-host parties, I still have a little bit more time to figure out where I’m going.
Or if I’m staying. Or going.