There But For the Grace of…


The irony that I started working in a liquor store just a few weeks after Noah died is not lost on me. Where else would I come in contact with such an endless parade of lost souls while still collecting a paycheck and using my knowledge of grape varietals and appellations? Where else would the lost soul I was when I first started, feel so at home?

Technically it is a wine and spirits store. But that really is just a nice name for a liquor store, isn’t it?

Let me introduce you to a random smattering of my top seven souls, lost and otherwise, I’ve encountered…

  1. He’s a walking heart attack. Once a day, two 1.5 liters of Woodbridge Chardonnay. He’s sweaty and paunchy but professionally dressed. I think this giant bottle of wine may be his first thought when he wakes up every morning. As we exchange hellos and $22.42,  I calculate in my head how much chardonnay I could drink on any given day.
  2. He’s an odd character. Really odd. Mid 50’s. He has a an electronic cigarette hanging out of his mouth. His hands are always moving. Two cold bottles of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio every damn day. $43.16 thrown on the counter like it all can’t happen fast enough. He sprints out the door to his muscle car with a racing fin on the back. We have theories on where he may be going with those two cold overpriced bottles. I saw him in the pizzeria the other night. He was by himself.
  3. She’s in daily. In the mornings. She flat out says she can’t keep liquor or wine in the house because she will drink it until it’s gone.
  4.  She’s in almost daily. She’s a sweet little grandma. She tries to keep her hands steady as she hands over the money for the cheap pint of vodka. It’s ok. You don’t have to tell me about the penne vodka you’re pretending to make. We talk about Miriam and her granddaughter who’s about the same age. She’s smiling with her tired eyes and rosy cheeks. Her hair is just a little too askew for comfort.
  5. He’s convinced I change the price of his vodka every time. He could’ve sworn it was cheaper yesterday. “Let me see the receipt!” He’s really angry. I just feel sad after interacting with him. He’s so angry  it makes me want to ask so badly what happened. And I really do want to hear about it.
  6. He graduated Julliard. He can play any instrument. He toured with Louis Prima and Keely Smith. He wears a heavy coat and gloves unless the temperature is in the 80’s. He’s as sharp as anyone I’ve ever met. His whole family were accountants and his mother didn’t want him to go into music. His voice is Humphrey Bogart-ish and we talk about Broadway shows sometimes. About twice a year he buys a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label for $179.99. It’s always because “he got some good news” he tells me. I adore him.
  7. It was the week of New Year’s Eve. The worst year of my life was coming to an end. My mother and my son died in 2010. Ring it out. Ring in 2011. The lost year. Two pretty ladies in their 50’s came up to the tasting bar where I was working. Lucille was tall and doe – eyed pretty. Sheila was short and blonde with pretty delicate features. They were best friends. It oozed out of them. True sisters by different misters. We started to talk as they tasted the wines. They both had a shitty year. They were happy to see it go. Lucille’s fiancée died. Pretty suddenly if I remember correctly. Sheila had gotten divorced. I listened to their best friends shorthand language they obviously shared. They were so sweet together. I thought of my best friend Stacy and how amazing so many other friends were at my worst time. I agreed that 2010 was a terrible year. Sheila then asked “So what happened to you this year?”  We have been friends ever since.

6 thoughts on “There But For the Grace of…

  1. Dammit, Erica! I have been reading your blog for a while now, and I want to leave a comment just about everytime, but I can never find the right words. But, I always find the tears!

    This one really made me cry…that last line. A moment ago I was sitting here sobbing into my yogurt and granola. It was a good, cleansing cry. Thank you.

    Your words are so honest and clearly from the heart. How your words can make me laugh and cry at the same time is a true gift. Don’t stop. God bless you and your family.


  2. Same feeling. Just want to keep on reading and reading. Your perception of and caring for these people gives value to a situation you are surely going to get out of soon…. with a book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! My dream has always been a one woman show. But I cry even thinking about having a real live book in my hand. I’m working hard to make it happen! I appreciate everyone’s support more than I can express


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