by S.T. 8th
It was Passover and I was in 6th grade. The sun had set not too long ago, (most Jewish holidays happen after the sun goes down) and I sat at my Aunt’s grand table feeling out of place and uncomfortable in the harsh light of the living room. My Mom sat across from me, focused on looking through the Seder book. I remembered the story of Passover while I sat. A short summary would be that the holiday retells of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.
“Here comes the drinks!” My Aunt called from the kitchen as she expertly balanced four glasses of wine. She also brought a cup for grape juice for me but hesitated when she set it out in front of me. “Actually… Sarah, would you like some wine?”
“I’m eleven!” I exclaimed, shocked. “I'm too young to have alcohol.”
“I know… but I will water it down for you… It will be fine.” My Aunt always talks like she is relaxing in a hammock, worry-free. “Only if you want to.” She added with an inviting smile.
I looked up at my Mom, asking for permission. My Mom nodded her head encouragingly and said, “Its Passover.”
I wasn’t really confident in my answer, but I shrugged and said, “sure”, It can't hurt to try.
“Look at you, doing grown-up things.” My Aunt said as she poured half water, half wine into my glass.
After a little while, we said the blessing for the wine and everyone took a big sip. I smelled the drink first and the scent of cleaning supplies wafted into my nose. Then, I tentatively sipped and held the drink in my mouth to savor the flavor.
I still don't know a lot about wine, just that it is made from grapes. That is why I prepared myself to taste a flavor similar to the grape juice I would have been having. It did not taste like grape juice. It tasted sour and bitter. I remember feeling as if I was drinking something so old and awful it had lost all of its original flavors, just leaving the rotten, gross taste behind. Almost as if, as it moved down my throat, it would corrupt my mouth with rancid flavors. It was bitter grapefruit, old, raw broccoli, chocolate without sugar, and a smidgen of vinegar all in one drink. It was disgusting, disgusting, and disgusting. This is the time I discovered, there is nothing nice about wine. Adults always look so calm when drinking wine but in reality, they are tasting this! Why do adults like wine? I guess I will know when I am older. I cringed and crinkled my face up, disliking the liquid in all ways possible. I must have looked like I had smelled a skunk.
“I guess you didn't like it.” my Aunt said and everyone chuckled at my odd face.
“If this is what being an adult tastes like, I never want to be an adult.” My words received an uproar of laughter from the adults in the room.
“No one does.” My Aunt laughed like it was the most hilarious thing in the world.
Later that night, when the lingering aftertaste of the wine was finally gone, I sat, digesting the whole experience. I had said that I never wanted to be an adult but in truth, I did not have any control over that part of my life. After all, the wine was for adults and grape juice was for children. The fact that I had been offered wine meant that I was growing up. A year ago, I would not have had the opportunity. Not just the offer of wine mattered, also the fact that I had accepted meant something. Some part of me wanted to grow up faster and do grown-up things, or at least try them. At the same time, I wanted to be young and enjoy my freedom. I had to remind myself that this is something everyone faces in their own way and that I don't have to figure out now. This was just a part of growing up.
Oakland | East Bay, CA