This is the last Thursday. The very last one. Here, I mean.
There will be a hotel my next namesake night, my home abandoned and swept clean of Me and Mine as it awaits its future partner, but it doesn’t count. It’s a hotel. It’s only a transition.
“Have you stopped blogging?” one correspondent asked. “Are you on hiatus?” queried another. No. I have definitely been bouchonné, in a sense (I love the broad utility of the French word for “corked”), because there’s a post I want to – no, need to – write, but I just can’t get through its abdomen, though the head and tail are long-finished. And in any case, I’ve been a little preoccupied.
Because the thing is, I’m leaving. Boston, you (and your dirty water, and your Charlie-swallowing M[B]TA) are no longer my home. As of eight days from now. And most definitely counting, as the ever-expanding, never-diminishing “list of things to do before…” stares back at my packing-reddened eyes.
Everything is, of course, fraught these days. Many decades of reminiscence. But I’m most struck, at the moment, by what cannot be reminisced. Places. People. Events. Things. Dishes. Drinks. None of them the path taken. All of those moments that I didn’t have in defiance of opportunity. And now, likely, won’t. Ever.
It’s not any given noun that’s set me on this path of…well, it’s not regret, exactly. I’m not quite sure what I’d call it. Reflection? It’s packing up bottles of wine, as any oenoanorak must do in preparation for a move.
Each bottle tells its own stories, long-acknowledged as one of the glories of the pursuit. But one of them – often overlooked – is the tale of its acquisition. The reason, the circumstance, the monetary pain a then-special bottle might have caused, the preferences – long-developed, or perhaps long-abandoned – that led to its companionship. So many years of browsing, of traveling, of savvy deals and what-was-I-thinking errors of quantity or quality. I could write an exceedingly poor-selling autobiography with just these bottles and their history.
As I said, everything is fraught. I can’t pack away a bottle without remembering then. Or there. Or why. Or who. The danger of being overwhelmed by something loitering at the intersection of Nostalgia and Proust is ever-present in these moments.
But this is what I wanted to say: these memories, these snippets of history, these moments that made me as much as I made them…they’re getting boxed up. Shipped. Reinstalled in a new setting, one in which new moments will be made starting from that very first installation. These bottles, heretofore ignored, will play a role in those new tales. And this is, I think, a fitting destiny for wine.
The story of a bottle is inseparable from its land, its grapes, its maker, and its history. It passes to a buyer with this story intact, whether the narrative is known or not. But then, a new epic is written. A story of an enthusiast and his or her wine. And that is a very, very different tale. Yet both make the wine what it is, and also what it will be.
So, Thursday. You’re actually Friday, now, as I finish this, and while I mourn your passing, I have hope. For downstairs, in more boxes than I care to count, are stories upon stories. A library of history, but also a library of the future. Each story familiar, each story new.
And some future Thursday – I don’t know when, but it will be soon – will not be a last. It will be a first. And the stories will begin anew.