Once upon a time, I wore straw hats and strappy tank tops while I tasted wine alfresco. I sampled champagne paired with complementary bites of savory food. I dined with my husband for as long as it took to finish that amazing bottle of wine just shipped from California.
Now I drink beer from the bottle.
The shift started somewhere during my second pregnancy. The mere whiff of a freshly opened bottle of beer would set me to salivating. I thought for sure I was having a boy since beer is not the drink that comes to mind when picturing a ladies’ tea. Plus, I never drank it. I would’ve fit right in with a bunch of teetotalling ladies in college. I didn’t really enjoy the taste of any alcohol.
But, as they say, it’s an acquired taste. A glass of wine with dinner here, some fruity drink there. By the time I came home from my honeymoon in Napa, I was well versed in obnoxious adjectives like full-bodied, oakey, and well-rounded bouquet. Eventually I branched out to ‘heartier’ reds. And by then I was ready for lagers, ales, and now, even the occasional stout.
It only makes sense, really. If someone were to tell me on my wedding day what was coming down the pike in the next three, five, seven years, there would’ve been no way I could’ve handled it. Three babies? Who one by one spirited away a little bit more of my independence? No more travel? No more carefree weekends? No more Monday-night-kill-the-bottle dinners? Agonizing self-doubt? Guilt? Depression?
I started out with the light, fruity stuff; the bright, refreshing tastes of youth. My tastes changed as the years went by, the experiences deepened. Spicy zins for when things got dicey. Bitter hops when the shit hit the fan. Luckily, I never hit the hard stuff.
I’m not a fine bottle of wine, getting better with age. I identify more with the wizened old man sipping his beer at the end of the bar, the lines on his face telling the story of where he’s been. I know my life is not refined as it may have once been. Lately, it’s been hardscrabble more often than not. But I might be okay with that. Now I can handle what life throws at me, more than I may have been able to at the start of this journey. I can enjoy the acidic bite following a sip of ale. And I can more readily appreciate the sweet in its stark contrast.