Tuscany Thoughts: Red Wine, Olivia Pope, and a Vespa

If you had told me that one day I’d be married to a man I’m proud to call my best friend, sipping red wine in the Tuscan countryside, riding Vespas around scary mountainous roads, and eating pasta every night, I would not have thought that it was my life you were describing. And yet, as I write this, that’s exactly where I am. I’ve just sat down on the patio with a freshly brewed cappuccino, the sound of birds chirping is the only sound around me, and straight ahead I see nothing but miles and miles of vineyards, welcoming the sun as it begins to rise.

god, that laptop needs a cleaning

When I opened my laptop, my first thought was just to write. It wasn’t to work (though goodness knows there are 100 emails waiting for me) and it wasn’t to go on social media to see if anyone “liked” my post.

It was just to write. It was what the peace and the calm of the scenery required. And so, I started to write. I didn’t overthink it, I didn’t lecture myself for not using the time to catch up on work,  I just did what I wanted. 

And so I started writing…

I thought back to all the things that I’d begun to realize about myself on this trip. There’s something about vacations and finally getting to relax that will show you who you really are. Without the stress, the self-imposed timelines, the keeping up. 

I thought about not only how I’d felt, but all the little things I’d suddenly been happy to embrace when I wasn’t staring down a deadline or feeling the pressure of what’s next. I felt relaxed, and I felt totally, blissfully happy, in the most unencumbered way.

It was a nice change of pace from the usual chaos in my mind.

I love red wine now

One of the first things I thought about was the wine tastings—of which there were many (Tuscany, after all—maybe this explains being relaxed??) I thought of how I didn’t even drink a few years ago, I hated the taste of alcohol. But at nearly 30, after months of binging Scandal and wanting to be Olivia Pope, I decided for the first time to try to get to know red wines. I wish I was kidding about why I first tried wine, but I really am that basic.

And so, I set out, gathering cheap wines and mini packs of Sutter Homes to try and decipher the taste. It was a futile mission, and it wasn’t until I met Jack and he began introducing me to more varieties and brands, that I really began to understand.

Now, I found myself in Tuscany, trying wine after wine after wine, and actually picking up on the different notes, understanding (sort of) the differences, and finally, maybe being able to tell the difference between Sangiovese and everything else. (It is an insecure wine that takes on the taste of every other wine and struggles to find its own identity. It is in fact, a chameleon wine that tastes a little bit like every other wine, and you will never convince me otherwise. However, I still love it and yes, I would like a glass thank you.)

The most adorable wine bar in Florence

The more I think about it, the more I realize that with wine, it’s as much about the confidence it gives as anything. And I don’t mean the liquid courage you get from drinking too much, I mean the confidence of holding a glass. 

When I hold a glass of wine, I feel powerful. Classy. Educated. It doesn’t make any sense until I remember. I remember Olivia Pope, sitting on her pristine, ivory-white couch, holding a glass of red over it with no trepidation, taking a sip as she plans her next move to save the world. She puts on the white hat and she goes off to fight for the good guys. It’s still who I want to be.

See what I mean? Also that bruschetta you see remnants of was delicious!

I also love controlled chaos

And then there’s the adventure of it all. Which I suppose in a way ties into what I was saying above. For as relaxed as I want to be, I do like controlled chaos. The rush of a deadline, the feeling of being needed, the thrill of being on the edge of something great.

And yet if you asked me, I would say that I am not terribly adventurous, nor have I ever been someone who is spontaneous. I don’t do things that could get me hurt either physically or emotionally, which as you might imagine, doesn’t leave a lot of options. I’m happy to just curl up in my shell and stay there, observing instead of living.

Or at least, I used to be that way. Used to live in my shell. Used to be happy there.

Now, I welcome adventure. I crave curated spontaneity (hey, a girl can’t change overnight). I get restless without a little adventure, and I find myself craving and embracing the things I used to run so far from. 

On the edge of adventure

But mostly, I love who I’m becoming (and that involves a Vespa)

So, getting on a Vespa and flying down the windy mountain roads of Siena… is not something 2019 Angela would have done. It’s something she’d have dreamt about, and wished she could do, but in the end would have totally chickened out.

And yet, when I heard myself say to my husband “I want to ride a Vespa” and he looked at me like “who are you?” I knew it was the right decision. And you know… it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Me! on a Vespa!! Who would have thought??

I will remember that feeling, forever.

I will remember how I held Jack’s waist as we zipped around the corners, stopping only to look at the map and eat lunch in the tiny town of Gaiole in Chianti. I’ll remember the wind in my hair, the way the vineyards looked all around me, and the way my husband excitedly beeped and waved at everyone that passed—the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Beep beep!!!

And I will remember how peaceful it was. How everything felt ok in that moment.  I was totally unencumbered. Totally and completely…happy.

Final thoughts

What I’m saying is, life is sort of funny that way. You have all these expectations for your life, all the different ways it’s going to work out, all the ways you think you’ll be happy…and in the end, we’re almost always wrong. We don’t really know what will make us happy half the time until we’re experiencing it. 

I guess that’s the gamble. You don’t get to know what will happen or how it will work out, but you have to do it anyway. You have to live, experiment, and experience. And trust it’s all leading you where you’re meant to be.

The greatest love of my life. (besides my dog Sawyer. Obviously)

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