Winesgiving – Part I: Miss Mal

The Women of Winesday create a sacred space.  2011 has not been an easy year for Winesday — collectively, or individually — and as I have said before, I cannot do justice to the narrative of this group without occasionally letting each member tell part of the story.  And so…Miss Mal tells the story of her journey to Winesgiving, which was to be held at my house, while I rushed back from London:

“Do NOT come in here!” I shouted to JM as he walked in the door. “I exploded the cranberry sauce in the blender. The kitchen is officially a war zone.”

I was two-hours in to a Post-Terrible Haircut Meltdown, covered in fuchsia goo, and all but channelling my mother’s oft displayed pre-holiday frenzy. My usual salve of the Nat King Cole Pandora station while laboring over cutting boards and sauce pans was ineffective at calming the feeling of crackling and static electricity that typically indicate an anxiety attack.  The glass of chardonnay I gulped down at 2 pm hadn’t helped much, either.

Suddenly, I was overcome with doubt: Would everyone like my cooking? Would anyone horrible crash the festivities? Was I ready to begin three weeks of holiday, then business, travel? WHY DID MY HAIRDRESSER GIVE ME SURPRISE BANGS? Thoughts, freak outs, ludicrous possibilities all raced in my head. After three solid months of a full-time job search – and the ability to begin cooking elaborate dinners in mid-afternoon on a whim, typically with aforementioned chardonnay and Nat King Cole – I was spending my penultimate day of unemployment freaking the hell out.

Months earlier, I had walked out of a job with a steady paycheck and health insurance. It was a choice I made rationally and soberly — and it was made after neverending battles with my former bosses. That decision marked a major, jarring life change that was calmly and expectedly final, yet left me unexpectedly bereft. Even on days when I was overcome with feelings of failure, of inaction, of “not enough”, I came to Winesday to heal, to prepare, to laugh, to have human contact after hours and hours of staring at my resume on a computer screen.

After months of searching questions, I had come to the previous week’s Winesday after I receiving a job offer – I was headed to Winesgiving after accepting it.

Once at Meredith’s, I had pushed my panic attack to a back burner  – partly because the festivities had begun, partly because we needed the space to re-heat things. Guests and their potluck contributions arrived. We loaded up plates, filled our glasses, and took turns around the table to give thanks. I heard everyone else’s grateful, joyful, sorrowful, triumphant tidbits. Climbing mountains. Facing fears. Realizing blessings. Accepting happiness. We all felt thankful for Wineday – the people, the ritual, the dependability.

(We all needed Meredith to come home.)

I wondered to myself, “What am I so worried about?” I had just completed a near impossible feat: finding and being offered a dream job in three months to the day (“in this economy”, no less). My new employer had fast-tracked plans to fly me to their corporate headquarters in London for training; I’d leave less than 24 hours after returning home from a week at JM’s parents for Thanksgiving. I was happy, healthy, in love.

“What am I so worried about?” I had posed the same question to TFV at lunch over a large plate of carbs.

“Things are good. You just need to let them be good.”

It still hadn’t totally occurred to me that after a series of tragic, awful years – the death of my father, the un-ing of my mother, the rejections and difficult move to a new city, the massive heartbreak, the cancer in both remaining and wholly adored grandparents, the hospitalization of my sister – I had actually reached some sort of equilibrium, even a tip of the scales into the black. I could let things be good. I should let things be good.

Roo started to whimper and speak. The door swung open. She’s home! The final piece of the Winesgiving puzzle locked into place. Any final whispers of anxiety melted away. The worry gone, I was finally flooded with thanks. Genuine gratitude wrapped around me.

How perfect. How simple. How magical.

Let good be good.

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