When I first decided to take this trip, I didn’t know what I was going to do, where I was going to go, or why. Luckily I’m not a person who requires any sort of schedule or plan to maintain my sanity, so the fact that I was preparing to take off and travel the world with only a backpack and a laptop to my name didn’t really alarm me. While I obviously have no issue with travel for travel’s sake, I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to have a more specific direction. So I thought about it. For weeks I considered what motivated me and what I was passionate about. I thought long and hard about what would allow me to become fully integrated in the fascinating aspects of other cultures, adding depth to my journey through knowledge, experience and different perspectives. I’m not really sure when I finally decided on wine, but I ran with it. I found out that the United States Sommelier Association was holding a six-week Sommelier Certification course in Miami, so I ignored any doubts that I had, bit the $700 bullet and signed up. I walked into the door that first day honestly not knowing if I had made the right decision…$700 is a lot to spend on one thing when you’re desperately saving every penny. But it’s been more than worth it. Next Saturday after the exam is over, I will walk away holding a certificate that says I am a globally recognized Sommelier. But what I will grasp tighter than that piece of paper is all of the intangibles that the class has given me: comprehension, appreciation, and passion for wine and the countries that produce it. Confidence in my decision to go down the path that I have chosen. And most importantly, eleven of the most fantastic people I have ever met, who I will think of with every glass that I drink along the way
Within the first few weeks of class, everything started to come together. I created an itinerary based on the top wine-producing regions of the world and made sure that my timing coincided with their harvest; I purchased my ticket a few weeks ago. A couple of days after that, I picked up a side job a few nights a week at Seventh Street Wine to save a little extra cash, have some fun, and learn more about wine; it’s been awesome so far. Even though all of this has fallen into place so effortlessly, it’s still unreal to me that, at 10:15 pm on Wednesday, March 14th, an Air New Zealand flight will be departing LAX…and I will be on it. Just a few hours later, I will wake up in Auckland, New Zealand, grab my backpack, leave the airport and step straight into the reality of my wine-laden dream.
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark. In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible; it is yours.” —Ayn Rand (If you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, you’re missing out :))