Transitions, Constants, and Wine

Every day seems to go by faster than the last. In hindsight, I always like to take inventory of what stays and what goes — friends, locations, feelings, interests, disinterests, things of the sort. I like to reflect on these transitions and analyze what has triggered each catalyst of change.

This year my biggest change was space. I signed a lease and committed to a new home. Not only a new space but my own space. I was so excited! After years of sharing my space with someone or many someones, I was ready to truly experience living alone. Except no one told me that moving alone was a challenge within itself… A challenge that required a bottle of wine sometimes!

For the first couple of weeks, I was sleeping on my air-mattress. Day by day, I was recording the spaces of my new domicile, getting a feel of my latest quarters while gently plotting what kind of interior I saw myself living in. And day by day, as I sorted through my things, I finally had a chance to “see” everything I owned and assign it a value. “Haven’t used,” “Won’t ever use again,” “Throw away,” “Give it a wash,” “That’s where that was,” and “Donate!!” — have all been keywords I used to navigate my items. Amongst my items, were my beloved books that are like souvenirs of who I was as a person at that time. Scary novels, Italian 101, zines, informative wine books, philosophy concepts, rugby superstar catalogs, Chinese poetry, you name it and I’ve probably read it! I ran my fingers through pages of forgotten memories, read random passages, and was instantly hit with a wave of nostalgia.. The last book I picked up was “The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the 13th Century,” collected and translated by Burton Watson. I opened the book in half, skimmed through a few pages, and found this poem:

Don’t go hide in the deep mountains
You’ll only come to hate it
Your teeth will ache with the chill of dawn water,
your face smart from the bite of the night frost.
Go off fishing and winds blow up from the cove;
Return from gathering firewood to find snow all over the cliffs.
Better come drink wine with me;
face to face we’ll get mellowly, mellowly drunk.
Don’t go off and be a farmer
You’ll only make yourself miserable.
Come spring and you’ll be plowing the lean soil,
Twilight and it’s time to feed the skinny ox.
Again and again you’ll be hit for government taxes,
But seldom will you meet up with a year of good crops.
Better come drink wine with me;
Together we’ll get quietly, quietly drunk
Don’t go climbing up the blue clouds —
The blue clouds are rife with passion and hate,
Everyone a wise man, bragging of knowledge and vision,
Flattening each other in the scramble for merit and power.
Fish get chowder because they swallow the bait;
Moths burn up when they bumble into the lamp.
Better come drink wine with me;
Let yourself go, get roaring, roaring drunk.
Don’t go into the realm of red dust —
It wears out a person’s spirit and strength.
You war with each other like the two horns of a snail,
End up with one ox-hair worth of gain.
Put out the fire that burns in your rage,
Stop whetting the knife that hides a smile.
Better come drink wine with me;
We’ll lie down peacefully, merrily, merrily drunk.

This poem is named "Better Come Drink Wine With Me." Poems, like wine, are subjective and may have many interpretations but to me, this poem shows how wine can serve as a kind celebration after overcoming small or even large defeats. It struck me as ironic as it was written before the 13th century and is still relatable. I found myself doing the same — every piece of heavy, moved furniture, every mis-purchased return, and the few pieces of lost glassware were all celebrated with friends who helped me move – and, of course, a bottle of wine. That is what I like to consider a constant. For hundreds of years, and on a completely different side of the globe, wine symbolizes accomplishment and brings people together. It serves as a signal of completion, achievements, and unity — a constant throughout the centuries and all around the world.

For my first dinner alone, I celebrated with a glass of Gamay!
After helping me move and pick up many pieces of furniture, I gifted my friends a bottle of Centaure
For my housewarming, my friends and I celebrated with a glass of Rose!


And once everything was more together, when the girls came over for brunch, we celebrated with Chasselas for brunch!

Get It Here 

Of course, over the years, I have filtered through some of my old books, but the ones at hand were mostly my “constants” — things that I love and are relevant to me, no matter how long ago and regardless of the other changing variables in my life. A ten-year student of Mandarin, my affection for wine, and playing on a rugby pitch are all things I’ll love no matter the transits in my life. My constants have been my passions and interests, which have led me to new people, new locations, and new experiences! And as I keep transitioning through new phases in my life, I’m sure to take my love for wine with me.

Signing off,

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