They shall know me by my barware

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Nine years is a long time to live in a place, particularly when it’s not yours but especially when you think it’s only temporary.

Long after I thought I’d be living on the West Coast, tooling through New Mexico and California before settling into organic, off-grid and probably not disease-free living in Oregon, I was still in Winston-Salem, within walking distance of Starbucks and Burger King.

I made the best of it, cozying up to management at my local Mexican joint, blowing my meager teacher’s income at World Market. Eventually, I started writing for Winston-Salem Monthly, and for some reason they thought it was a good idea to throw me the wine column.

In the meantime, my barware collection multiplied like Gizmo. I managed to accumulate two sets of white-wine glasses, one stemmed, one stemless, from Disney World; fancy red-wine bubble glasses as a Christmas present from relatives; various square and round rocks glasses, promotional items from liquor boxes; and a gazillion complimentary tasting glasses from area wineries.

My now-husband’s dowry to the marriage included cocktail and champagne glasses, two-ounce shot glasses, cocktail shaker and related accoutrements and more rocks glasses. Our massive bar area displayed backlit bottles and glasses hanging underneath one of the shelves — an illusion that our barware did not also extend into three kitchen cabinets.

I tried somewhat futilely to cull it into a manageable amount, not because we were moving but because I had a diminishing tolerance for stuff just sitting around. Like Evaristo at Papa Nacho’s, Goodwill employees practically knew me by first name.

My penchant for donating paid off recently when I packed up our glassware to move for the first time in nearly a decade. Of course, there was even more to give away; I’d told myself I’d wear every piece of costume jewelry I own while sipping from red goblets I’d bought in Salem, Va., and I did, once. But for the most part our core collection, the stuff that balances emotional significance and practicality, remains intact.

I set it all out on the kitchen counter of our new rental house, like a host preparing for an elaborate dinner party. It felt strangely comforting seeing it all at once, the myriad shapes and uses. It’s psychological, I know: I drank expensive wine out of a faded Ruby Tuesday kid’s cup in our old kitchen, and the taste was no different.

But there’s something about a pour of scotch in a snifter, the amber sparkle, the way my palm cups the base. Or a long inhale of blackcurrant and tobacco from a red wine glass, the first sip, the imagined Napa breeze cooling my pretentious brow.

We’re traveling to California and Oregon for the first time on Saturday. I promise I’ll come back, if only for my barware.