Drive to Astoria, Drink Wine, Get your Ass back on the saddle, Repeat.

It’s about time someone opened up a wine bar on the pier in Astoria, Oregon.  What could be better than watching huge boats sail toward the Pacific while sipping on wine in the warmth of a little wine bar?  WineKraft is the name, and the list is full of gems from the Northwest. (I had a gruner veltliner, but I wished I had the whole evening to stay and drink more from their diverse and adventurous list!)

Sitting in the lounge chair, overlooking the Columbia River, I feel a sense of peace that I rarely feel in a food or drink establishment.  Part of it is from some lively banter by the bar-keep and her neighborhood friends.  I am not sure why it was peculiarly so peaceful to me on this day.

A new customer speaks adamantly about returning in the future, since it allows her to go out for a drink without running into the other half of her boat’s crew.  I love hearing snippets of the maritime life every time I hang out in this town.  This makes me wonder if I am a voyeur of sorts.  A voyeur of lifeways that differ from my big city, service industry bubble.

Astoria has become my habitual destination when I need to take a long drive to clear my head; always far enough, but close enough.  On these drives, I give myself a chance to worry, hate, ruminate, consider revenge, wallow in regret, sort things out, and feel pissy that life is unfair.  Once I find a place to post up for a drink and a snack, I wrap-up the thoughts that I had on the drive into town.  On the drive back home to Portland, I seek solutions and look toward the future.  I resolve to seek progress.

Sinking a little deeper into the lounge chair, looking out over the water, I realize it has been four years since I found myself floundering in the darkest waters I had ever seen.  The Grim Reaper comes in more than one form.  Grief is a bully.  But I’m still standing.  Four years after being heart-broken in more ways than one, all at the same time, confused, regretful; tripped up by timing, faltered by the unexpected, and distracted with financial desperation; I continue to jump back on the saddle, over and over and over.  I got through all that shit, so surely I can get through the shit that I thought about on the drive into town today.

Many words of wisdom have been brought my way by the people who have survived their falls.  I used to work at a restaurant in New Orleans, with the sweetest little old lady who worked pantry and salad line.  I’d say “How ya feelin today Miss B?”  And half the time, she would respond in a variety of ways such as “I must be doing good, because I woke up today”.   Another cook adopted the saying as well, and it comes to mind often.

At times, I lose sight of my course, and in some moments, I give up all hope.  But just for an evening.  Once or twice a year, I’ll post up on the couch with a full bottle of wine just for myself.  I give myself the evening to silently pout.

And as I imagine giving up (who am I to think I can breathe some kind of new life into the world of wine?!  Who am I to think I can infiltrate the wine pocket of the upper-class (a woman who pulled herself up and out of the poverty of her childhood, only to be taunted with poverty again thanks to college debt, rapid inflation, etc), my logic (and stubborn persistence) kicks back in, and I try again. Today, tomorrow, next week. One step at a time.  In Vino Veritas*, right? (*An old latin saying, “in wine there is truth”).

On a past trip to Astoria, I attended the Fisherpoets Gathering. Erin Fristad, a (former?) deckhand for commercial fishing and research vessels, caught my attention with her reading of a poem that spoke to my struggle.  I found her email a few months later, and I let her know the poem touched me.  She was kind enough to send a .PDF of the poem in her reply, with permission to share it.

I would like to share it with you here, although I wish yall could have heard her read it in person.  That evening, you could tell she lived the words that she spoke.  The room was captivated until the roar of applause.

Maybe this poem will offer you something, if you are feeling disoriented by the fog.  Please feel free to comment if this poem speaks to you too.  I would love for Erin to know that her poem has gotten some love.

And to my friends and readers, I want to encourage you to go check out WineKraft when you visit Astoria, Oregon. There are plenty of spots for beer, and we can always count on Albatross for a great cocktail, but it is refreshing to be able to go out for a delicious glass of wine without having to settle on the cheap basics that plague the wine lists at other restaurants down that way.

Thanks again Erin!


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