I can’t explain why. I really can’t. All I can say is that the evening stood out. It was a first among equals night. It was one of those moments . . . a moment that as it happens everyone knows that it is destined to become a memory.
Ten of us had gathered. All of us were friends. Each of us had a strong connection to one or more of us. Yet none of us were childhood friends with all of us. Our interests were diverse – nature, health, the spirit, the spirits, enterprise, numbers, learning, teaching – with a lot of some and a little of others. We met at twilight – the time of magic between daylight and darkness on a cool crisp mid-winter evening.
Those hosting had planned and prepared and welcomed the rest upon arrival. Though all of us had seen each other over the past couple of months, our greetings were as if we had not. Handshakes, hugs, kisses, pats-on-the-back, smiles – it was a tete-a-tete for ten that started the evening out perfectly. Again, I can’t explain why, but from the moment our feet crossed the threshold of the door, the aura of the making of a memory began.
Our intent was simple – food and wine and conversation followed by more food and more wine and more conversation. The emphasis here should be, in particular, on the conversation about the wine, of which there was a great deal, for nine of us were learning from the one of us who was a master in that area.
For this year’s fine wine dine, the table setting included numerous wine glasses which to me looked like birds on a wire – straight, dainty, orderly and whimsical. In addition, each setting included two black goblets, mysterious in both color and shape. The first four wine flights to be served at the table had been pre-poured. So all was ready.
However, like most gatherings, our first moments were spent in the kitchen. We stood, and mingled, and chatted. We listened and learned about recent trials and tribulations that occurred in our lives. We watched as those cooking finalized the meal with brief finishing touches. We were served our first wine flight coupled with a much appreciated antipasto. Most importantly, we were pausing our busy lives for something beyond the ordinary. Worked stopped. Fun ensued.
As we moved out of the kitchen, we soon learned much more about the mysterious black goblets. Regardless of our viticulture ability – (me, a mere novice) – we were to identify each of the goblet’s contents without the ability to see it. A better name for this portion of the evening might be the fine blind wine dine, a puzzling, curious challenge that had nine of us laughing on edge.
And laughter kept coming, from beginning to end. We laughed at our ability or inability as hopeful wine connoisseurs. We laughed at ourselves, at each other, at our futures, at our days gone by, at everything and anything. At times, we laughed until we cried. We just laughed. For hours. For fun. With friends.
Hours later, as we all departed, we seemed reluctant to cross over that threshold and head in the opposite direction. If I had thought about my thoughts at that time, I probably was thinking about my luck – to be with a group of friends for a moment of fun on that mid-winter’s night.
I can’t explain why. I really can’t, but I am going to try.
Like everyone else, there are twenty-four hours in my day and seven days in my week. Of those twenty-four hours and seven days, the moments that I can recall are few and far between. I remember the spectacular – the weddings, the graduations, the holidays, the birthdays, the anniversaries. I remember the somber – the deaths, the funerals, the illnesses. Most of my memories revolve around my family who are the individuals with whom I share hours upon hours upon hours of my time. My mother, God rest her soul, has been gone for many years; yet, I can still hear her calling my name from the days of my childhood.
And somewhere in those memories now sits something a little bit different . . . unusual . . . unique. It doesn’t involve the spectacular or the somber or my family. It isn’t something of tradition or tragedy. It isn’t marked by a date on the calendar or tied to a sibling, an aunt, an uncle or my parents.
It is a moment in my life that I spent with friends, good friends, doing something rather ordinary in an extraordinary way – eating, drinking, laughing, talking – personified. The exact stories we told and why we laughed . . . I am not sure of it now. I think it was all funny, but . . . then . . . it could have been the wine speaking.
What I am a little more sure about is the value of good friends. I may not know my wines (to even the basest level of knowing the difference between red or white wine when placed in a black goblet), but I do know that friends are treasures beyond words.
Lesson learned. Enough said.