Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sorghum Wine, All Around!

I discovered sorghum wine tonight. Damn you, Steven.

I've known the man for 15 years and somehow he still manages to subtly corrupt me. I was perfectly in control today until dinner in San Gabriel for his birthday. I can't believe I have now known him this long, first of all. (I was an even skinnier 18-year-old college freshmen when I met him, and we hit it off when he decided we should torture my then-roommate by setting up camp in my room to scare him off.) Secondly, I sat down next to him at the restaurant, already salivating because I could smell the Peking duck in the kitchen, and he shows me a bottle that looks like Log Cabin syrup but it's clear--and, oh yeah, in Chinese.

"What's that?" I asked him.

"Want some?" he said as a reply. When he answers you with a question, you know it's trouble.

So he pours me what looks like a sake cup full of what smells faintly of moonshine. But damn it tastes a lot better. Three "cups" later, I wasn't drunk; I felt like I was floating. At a table full of 12 people, I felt like anything could have happened and I would have merely blinked.

Thankfully, that drunk, floating feeling melted away before I drove home (but not before I ate jellyfish, which inexplicably the restaurant ran out of. really? does one just "run out" of jellyfish?).

I think Steve enjoyed himself. After all, he had a birthday dinner surrounded by friends who all had good senses of humor--a must to make a group dinner work. I did pour him more sorghum wine, so I think he was floating too.

Note to self: Find sorghum wine and learn enough Chinese to find the good stuff.

It's after midnight. I should be asleep, but I feel wired. I am thinking of being stuck on a plane for 15 hours; I am thinking of the fact my father would have been 66 years old today if he was still alive. Now that's a weird thought. To me, he's arrested at 45--a vague figure who is a mixture of memories, sights, and sounds. Ryan was talking to me about how we can't really remember people as they were; they become collages of sensations, in a way--a picture that is not entirely visual, nor entirely accurate. I got quiet, trying hard to remember a sharp picture, a crisp memory untainted by over two decades of absence. And I couldn't do it. It makes me sad in some ways, of course. I feel like the human brain should not do this to you. But I suppose it also blocks out the pictures of him being sick and the awful sterile hospital rooms I sat in all summer. (My sharpest memory is actually hearing "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper come on the radio minutes after I found out he had died, so there's still no way for me to hate that song.)

Sorghum wine or not, I am feeling a tad maudlin, thinking of what I have missed and what has yet to happen. Watching your friends (and yourself) get older, it's unavoidable I suppose. And yet I also feel like there is still so, so much more I have yet to do and experience--whether it be learning lawn bowling or visiting Mayan ruins in Mexico. I can at least cross "Eat Jellyfish" off that list.

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