I flew from Nashville to Jacksonville, Florida, on Southwest yesterday. I don’t know that guy behind me. But we had a good laugh!

There were 143 seats on the plane and 100 passengers, so everyone had a window or an aisle. Masks were required and I saw a lot of cute ones, especially on younger people.

The Nashville airport was strangely quiet but by no means empty.

Wow I’m grateful for a change of scenery. Yet we’re still in the time when we can – in good conscience – say no to everything, and stay home – and there is a beauty and pleasure in that too. We are in the in-between times…

Two friends recently sent me articles that made me think – I need to appreciate these strange times we live in maybe a little more than I do.

Brian Fitzpatrick in his wrist brace sent me a link to the most enchanting article written by Natalie Compton for the Washington Post. It begins:

It was the summer I got my braces off. I’d just graduated from the eighth grade, and my family was going on vacation to Europe, our third trip to the continent.

My journal from 2005 noted, “I’m 23 years old trapped in a 14 year old body help!”

This young woman (a girl, then) collected wine on all of her family’s trips for many years before she could legally drink. She is opening those bottles now and discovering the joys – and horrors – therein.

Here’s how she describes one bottle:

The wine: 2003 Loxarel Ops; organic, unfiltered; cabernet sauvignon, merlot and Ull de Llebre blend.

The trip: The summer of 2005, my family went to Spain and the south of France where I juggled my interests of seeing the works of Gaudí and eating gnocchi with buying phone cards to call my boyfriend of three days back at home.

Besides spotting Magic Johnson’s yacht parked in a Saint Tropez marina and reading “The Catcher in the Rye,” this trip was pivotal because it was when I decided to start collecting wine on vacation.

I had absolutely no idea what to look for in a bottle, just that it needed to be cheap and have a cool label. Fourteen-year-old me took four pages of my travel journal to write a short story about waking up at five in the morning, and yet I couldn’t jot down a single note about the wine I bought.

The tasting: It’s difficult to focus on the nuanced flavors and aromas of a wine when you are constantly picking cork shards out of your mouth.

I learned this when the cork of my watershed wine crumbled into pieces in my attempt to open it. As crumbled cork wedged itself between my teeth, I searched “is it dangerous to ingest cork?”

Search results said no, so the tasting went on according to schedule. If there wasn’t a pandemic making it feel ludicrous to go to the grocery store for something as nonessential as a coffee filter to stop the cork from pouring into my wine glass, this would have gone differently. What I’m saying is I’m now a person who eats cork.

I can also say the muddy brown liquid was tannic. I can say it was definitely red wine. I can say that it tasted a lot like if you dumped some Tabasco into red wine, and maybe some olive juice, too.

In short, the wine was not good.

And yet, the experience of drinking it was – memorable. Even – terrific.

We are in charge of at least some of the experiences in our own homes. Here are some ideas from an article my friend Jerry Williams sent to me… 

Jerry’s in the middle, receiving the Joe C. Kraft Humanitarian Award

From “No Company? Be Your Own Guest: Ten ways quarantiners are treating themselves like esteemed visitors” WSJ, 5/23/20:

“Our 9-year-old drinks Diet Coke out of our Tiffany wedding flutes. He said it tastes better, especially with ice in it. I’m not worried about them breaking – I’m glad they are getting use.” – Kelley Kitley, Chicago

“With six computers set up on the dining room table, a child doing remote learning, and a puppy, the uplifting sensory input of a diffuser has made home feel more luxurious and spalike.” – Christopher Totaro, Manhattan, NY

“Even pre-quarantine I would take an afternoon break with a cup of tea every day around 4 p.m. I would usually just have it in my ‘Mom’ mug. But I have broken out my Marchesa for Lenox teacup and saucer, and I drink a traditional English breakfast tea with a cookie or two instead. It actually feels quite regal.” – Jenelle Hamilton, Beverly Hills, CA.

What are you waiting for, friends? Open that bottle of wine and use your best stuff.

(Or book a flight on Southwest.)

Thank you for the gentle reminders, Brian and Jerry. xoxo


*      *      *

Spotted at BNA


Spotted by my younger daughter during the flight