What We Remember

I woke up to the news this morning that one of my school friends passed away.  He was the funny kid, rambunctious, and always smiling.  We were children together.  We passed through each other’s lives at a time when everyone is young and stupid, and made up of lunch table gossip and homework and crazy dreams.  I wish now that I’d known him as an adult.

Sometimes it’s that missed opportunity that makes you sad.  I’m sad that I’ll never know his grown-up smile.  I’m sad for his family, too, and all of his friends and everyone who loved him.

Thirty.  I am thirty.  He was thirty.  That’s still young.  Plenty of time left.  Or not.

Do any of us ever really have enough time?  I don’t know the answer to that.  I do know that not one of us makes it out of this alive, even the best of us.  So what matters in the end?  I think – that you loved, that you were loved, that you smiled and made people smile, that you made the world a little better and not a little worse, that you laughed and made other people laugh, too, that you dreamed and lived and never lost that spark of wildness you had as a child.

Today, I’ll think about a little boy with a contagious smile who delighted in making people laugh, who liked ninjas and once suffered through a Katie J. original short production of “The Highwayman” (playing the title character and being the only good thing about the whole mess).  Today, I’ll be grateful I knew him, even if it was only for a little while.  Because in the end, that’s all we get.

We’ll go out like lights, but we can shine bright until the end.  It’s the shine that people remember.

Making Dumplings

Life is a lot like making dumplings.

There aren’t exact measurements to get it right.

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Sometimes things get messy before they get better.

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Just keep at it.

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Because it’s okay to be a little rough around the edges.

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And it’s okay to be unconventional.

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That’s what makes you beautiful.

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Don’t stir the pot.

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Just let things rest sometimes.

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Add a little spice.

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And always savor every bite, because chicken and dumplings never last long.

Thirty < Sixty (Or, Why I’m Drinking Rum Tonight)

Happy birthday to this guy!

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The best dad in the world, and my favorite partner in (musical) crime!

It didn’t sink in for me until I was in my mid-twenties that, when I was born, it meant he had a child and turned thirty within one week.  That’s adulthood punching you in the face, right there.  But he seems to have coped pretty well, seeing as he is the best dad in the world.

This might be a shock to learn, but neither of my parents likes wine.  At all.  My mom won’t even touch it, and my dad will politely taste it, make a scrunched up “how can you drink this stuff?” face, and then promptly hand the glass over to someone else (usually me).  So in honor of his birthday tonight, I wanted to indulge in something he does drink:  rum.

We bought a bottle of Amber Rum from Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery in Middleburg, VA about a year ago, and I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to open it.  If my dad’s birthday isn’t the right opportunity, I don’t know what is.  Now, my dad’s favorite way to drink rum is to mix white rum with Coke over ice, but I decided to get a little creative tonight, and make my favorite cocktail with a rum twist.

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Yeah, so I made an Old Fashioned with rum.  Hopefully, I won’t soon be chased down by an angry mob of rye whiskey devotees, because I drink a lot of wine and I eat a lot of pasta and running isn’t really my thing.  I’m also not sorry, because this is a delicious cocktail, and it’s the perfect way to celebrate my dad’s birthday from across the state.

Usually, when my dad and I get together and have a drink or two, this is what happens:

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Since it’s just Graham and me tonight, we’ll have to settle for raising our glasses in a toast.

I wish you the happiest of birthdays, Dad, today and for many, many years to come!  Cheers to you!

 

Post Script – Regarding Mt. Defiance:  They make a wide variety of ciders and spirits, they’re located right on the main street in Middleburg, and their rum tastings are really fun (they make mini-cocktails!).  Here’s their website, if you’d like to learn more, or plan your visit:  Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery.

A Thought for Thirty

Thirty.  It is official.  I am thirty.  I’ve been officially thirty since 6:01 this evening.

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Happy birthday to me!  I am older, but not wiser, I think, and that’s okay.  I’ve done some reflecting, though, on these first three decades of my life, and I do have one kernel of wisdom to share.  It’s just this:

Embrace the fear.

Do what scares you.

Don’t let being afraid stop you from being amazing.

Jump off the cliff, and build your wings on the way down.

Okay, I’ve got to thank Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut for that last one, but it’s a good sentiment.

Life moves fast.  A day becomes a week becomes a year becomes ten.  Don’t spend any of that precious time allowing fear to hold you back.  It’s harder to do than to dream, but it’s better to regret than to wish.  You’ll always be afraid of something – for me, it’s airplanes (and heights, and elevators, and snakes, and ladybugs, and failure, and many, many other things, too) – but fear should never, ever dictate your actions.

If you’re afraid, then be afraid, but act anyway.  Take what scares you, and let it motivate you.  Let it light a fire in you to overcome it, to best it, to kick its ass.  Be frightened and fabulous.  You are not a deer in the headlights.

Embrace the fear.

Once more, with feeling.

EMBRACE THE FEAR.

Embrace it, and build your life around all the little moments you could have stopped, but didn’t, could have cried, but didn’t, could have given up, but didn’t.

Life is too short, too valuable, to let fear stand in your way.  So don’t.

Embrace the fear.  And live.

(The Last) Twenty-Nine Wine

Tomorrow, I am thirty.  I’ve mostly come to terms with thirty.  I’m even sort of looking forward to thirty.  Thirty will be okay.  But tonight, regardless of my accepting that thirty is imminent, I plan to thoroughly enjoy the last moments of my twenties in a way that will surprise no one (who knows me) – by drinking wine, writing stuff, singing songs (after the wine, of course), and watching cartoons.

I wanted to choose a special wine tonight, since this transition is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I looked through our collection, and decided on Domaine de Marie’s 2013 Viognier.  Spoiler…this is not a Virginia wine.

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I opened it tonight because it brings back memories of the absolute best thing I did in my twenties.  Graham and I got married in 2013.  Marrying Graham is the best decision I’ve ever made, and the three years that we’ve been married (not to mention the nearly eight that we’ve been together) are my favorite years of all my twenties.  I’m looking forward to many more.  I think we’ll be fun old farts together when we get there, not that we’re in any hurry.  But I digress…

Moving on, La Bastide de Marie, a quaint, comfortable, elegant little hotel outside Ménerbes in the Luberon region of Provence, was the first stop on our fantastic French honeymoon.  Domaine de Marie is their attached vineyard, and I can’t tell you how many bottles of Domaine de Marie wine we enjoyed in those first few days of what turned out to be a romantic, unforgettable trip.  It feels appropriate to live in those memories for a little while tonight.

I love a good Viognier, and I’m in luck, since Viognier is grown prolifically in Virginia.  This Viognier, though, is a little different from one I could get here in the Old Dominion.  It’s bolder, richer, and sweeter, not quite as smooth, and with minerality that becomes a little more pronounced with each sip.  A nose of apples, honey, and hints of apricot gives way to honey, honey, and honey on the palate.  The honey becomes less prominent a few sips in, allowing for hints of apple, and there’s a pleasant pop of minerality, as well as a long finish.  Every time I take a sip, I’m right back in Provence, a newlywed again, excited to explore the countryside, enjoy hearty food and wine, and relax with my favorite human in the world (Graham, just to be clear).

There are those, I know, who will say that it’s silly to focus so much on the last days of my twenties and who will tell me that, in ten years, turning thirty will seem like just another day.  To those people, I will say this:  You have been where I am, and I will eventually be where you are, so let’s agree that in this thing called life, when it comes to aging, we’re pretty much on equal footing.  And hey, turning thirty in less than twenty-four hours is as good a reason as any to drink a little good wine and have a little fun.

Cheers!

 

Relevant Post Script – I’m certainly not trying to advertise, but if you’d like to check out La Bastide de Marie or Domaine de Marie, here’s the website: La Bastide de Marie.

One Year

The last words I said to my grandfather were, “I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.”  This was on a Friday afternoon, August 7th, ten days before his 91st birthday, and it was the last day I ever saw him.  He died only a few hours later, in the early hours of Saturday morning, August 8th.

And I still miss him, will miss him, every day.

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James William Osborne, Sr.
August 17, 1924 – August 8, 2015

 
“there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled

a space

and even during the
best moments
and
the greatest times
times

we will know it

we will know it
more than
ever

there is a place in the heart that
will never be filled
and

we will wait
and
wait

in that space.”

–Charles Bukowski