This is what I like: I like the moment when the wine gets you to the point where you are no longer afraid to tell the story. But, I should add, still coherent enough to tell it. It’s the story you walk around in every day and try not to think about until there is a woman sitting across the table saying, please, please, just tell me more.
Suddenly I’m not afraid to ask and you’re not afraid to tell. Out come the details that could land you in jail, or at least on the wrong side of polite society. Here is where we are real.
I live for these instances—the moment after the pause, when the person sitting next to you decides this is a safe zone and it’s okay to finally be honest. Is wine required for this type of authentic sharing? It isn’t, but I find that others have a hard time getting there without the help of a light intoxication. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing
I had waited months for this story. And now we sat there. He’d had the beer, I’d had the wine. There was nowhere else to be.
I said to him, “Tell me the story.”
“There are volumes and volumes that could be told.”
“Then start at the beginning.”
I strained to hear the soft pitch of his voice through the Beatles playing in the background. He told his story— his childhood in Mexico, his harsh father and his compensating mother, the dreams of being a pilot or a soccer player, the story of crossing the border, the coyote and how much he paid, getting caught by immigration, waiting in jail, being sent back, the three days and four nights of spanning the entire country of Mexico on foot, finally making it to Philadelphia.
As we sat and talked, the lights grew dim as the sun disappeared until we were sitting in complete darkness. He said there were things that didn’t need to be mentioned, sadnesses that didn’t need to be spoken of. I let him keep some of his secrets.
After these nights you both walk away somehow more human because you are known in a way few other people have known you. You are exposed, yet still safe. There is another soul who knows the truth of who you are and they love you not less but more. You are given permission to hold your head just an inch or two higher.
Listen to someone’s story. Sit with them in the darkness, pour them the last of the bottle and ask them the hard question. Let them give the hard answer. You may be the only ear that ever asks the privilege of hearing the response.