Today was payday and THANK GOD for that.
If my life were a movie, today might be depicted as such: me, fresh off my payday, walking into Dairy Queen, and ordering an ice cream cone. As it’s handed to me, I am so happy for I have not had the money even for a simple vanilla cone in two weeks, and the screen would fade to black and say “TWO WEEKS EARLIER.”
Two weeks earlier I am sitting across my friend at Ports Cafe in Geneva, NY and she asks me a question. “How can you afford to travel so much?” The truth is, I can’t. Most of the time I walk a pretty fine line between “when I’m old I won’t remember how much money I didn’t have!” and “shit, I can’t afford food for another four days.”
So I tell her my secret: “The trick to being able to afford to travel is don’t buy anything.” Just say no to shopping. Most of the time the things you buy just lingers around the house until it’s time to move and then you hate it anyway. I think a lot of (normal) people have a hard time believing me when I say I don’t shop. I am a twenty-six year old woman, after all. But, to me, no box of new shoes can equate to the thrill of that moment when the wheels lift off the runway.
I’m pretty proud of myself for pulling this whole thing off actually. Traveling regularly, on such a tight budget, I manage. Even as we have the conversation, we are sitting next to beautiful Lake Seneca in upstate New York. I hardly feel deprived.
But then, the Finger Lakes get the best of me.
The next day, my friend and I wake bright and early to visit a few of the wineries along the Seneca and Cayuga Lake wine trails.
The first winery we visit, Heron Hill, also happens to be the site of my very first wine tasting, and after all the personal attention bestowed upon me, I feel a little compelled to buy a bottle. And I figure, why not. One bottle of wine to bring home is a perfectly respectable souvenir.
And so it continues. And I sort of learn that I love wine tastings. I love learning about upstate New York, and how the climate and the lakes are very similar to Germany, which is why they specialize in white wines, and especially Rieslings. It is a hot day, punctuated occasionally by little spurts of rain, and the cold, light wine is so very pleasing to my limbs. The Finger Lakes region looks like something out of a storybook. Rolling hills, farms, grapes, meadows. Another winery, and another.
What I love the most about all of these wineries is that they all seem to have their own distinct personalities:
Herman J. Weimer Vineyards (Seneca) is the big man on campus, and knows it. A lady waits for you by the front door as you pull up and park. She escorts you to your tasting bar, taking you through a room well-stocked with various wines, on the way. This is the most expensive wine, but also the best tasting, and they have clippings from 1000 Places to See Before You Die and New York Times reviews like hung like diplomas, or badges, on the wall. I feel so honored to have made it past the front door, of course I purchase a bottle of Riesling.
Four Chimneys (Seneca) is America’s first organic winery and the ones I tried tasted like juice. One of the wine’s descriptions said : “tastes like an angel’s tears of laughter” or something like that. And, as a person with an English degree, I feel as though I must reward creativity, so I have them ring me up a bottle of their Honeydew Moon.
Hazlitt (Cayuga) is the one throwing the party. Loud music, young bartenders who openly admit they prefer beer. With wines called Red Cat and White Cat (featuring labels of cats in hot tubs and bikinis) I kind of get the feeling that this winery’s the fifth or sixth year senior, but the atmosphere is so fun, I play along.
Thirsty Owl (Cayuga) is beautiful without being snobby about it, and the views of the lake from the tasting room is simply stunning. I yearn for this winery’s approval in life so much I buy two bottles here.
Lucas (Cayuga) is like visiting all of these winery’s hokey-decorated, but sweet and well-meaning parent’s house. Their signature labels are named after the daughters of the founder: Miss Adventurous and Miss Chevious and Miss Behavin’ (collectively called the Nauties). Their portraits look straight out of the ’80s, and the gift shop/tasting room is full of bedazzled knick-knacks in pastel colors. But the wine is very good, and a bargain compared to other wineries. $8.99 for a bottle? Add it to the bunch!
Americana (Cayuga), the aw-shucks goof in the bunch, claims that none of the wineries are their rivals, and that they love everyone. (Seriously, I asked.) The all-in-this-together attitude was almost as endearing as their Apparition wine – which comes in a Halloween label and has no hint of an aftertaste. They also have fudge pairings! Chocolate and alcohol named after ghosts -that is what America is all about. And I think I love America, sometimes. And then I feel guilty for even questioning my love for the country of my birth, which has given me this day full of miniature tastes of all the different wines and I feel so happy, right, so tingly and happy that I might start dancing, so two bottles here.
Do you remember five minutes ago – when I told you I don’t buy anything, ever? Imagine my shock when I look at my box stuffed full of wine and receipts (which I like to think more of like “ghosts of my money”). The wine! The cause and relief of my suffering! For two weeks, until I got paid today, I had nothing but wine and many pairs of hole-y underwear and the same jeans since college. And today, an ice cream cone.
After all, I don’t shop. And I probably won’t remember being poor when I’m old.