• Elizabeth Buckner

Glow Wine

Growing up in Southern California, I was a good daughter. I never drank my dad's bourbon or my mom's vermouth. I never drank on a date, not even on senior ditch day, graduation or grad night. I was a goody-two-shoes in my blue or brown and white saddle shoes and black Mary Jane flats. I attended the University of Oregon at Eugene my freshman year of college. In 1960 it was a very Greek school and there were many too many rules of do's and don'ts. All freshman had to live on campus in dorms unless they were married, over 21 or lived in town. Therefore, it was best to pledge a house. I didn't and, after a difficult year, transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles. But I digress.


A few days before the beginning of the school year, I boarded the Southern Pacific Train at the Glendale Station, and took my seat in one of the "college cars" with the other soon-to-be students. I had a matching set of Samsonite luggage, acquired with green stamps, a steamer trunk full of homemade clothes sewn by yours truly, a $50 a month allowance and a pocket full of dreams. The train was full of eager youths, apprehensive yet excited, or vice versa, and full of bravado. We were ready to take on the world with our newly gained independence, paid for by Mom and Dad.


The train trip to Eugene took 24 hours and some where along the route, someone told me that anyone could buy drinks in the bar car. Since I had never had a drink before, I decided to go for it and found my way to the bar car. When it was my turn to order, the over-worked bartender asked, "What will you have?". I froze. We both knew I was too young, only 17. I didn't know what to order and a beer seemed too easy. Everyone was jostling, pushing and crowding the bar. As I frantically searched my mind for the name of a cocktail, the bartender became impatient. Suddenly the song, "Scotch and Soda", by The Kingston Trio popped into my head and so I ordered one. I took a sip and was disgusted by the taste. I poured it down the sink in the ladies' room. Yuck and double yuck. I don't like Scotch or Soda to this day. I finished the trip sober but did kiss my seat mate and a stranger as we crossed the California-Oregon border. Of course, it was his idea and I never saw him again.


The first time I got drunk was in a dorm at the University of Oregon. It was a Saturday night and I walked downtown with some girl friends to get soft serve ice cream hot fudge sundaes. It was buy-one-get-the second-one-for-a-penny weekend at the Dairy Queen. We returned to the dorm and someone had a bottle of Vodka. We got Orange Crush from the soft drink vending machine and made Screwdrivers. I drank a few, got the spins and passed out. I woke up with my first hangover on Sunday morning. I felt horrible.


I also had an English composition due on Monday morning which was yet to be written. One of the girls suggested I sit in front of an infra-red heat lamp for a few minutes because the heat would help reduce the hangover pain. She just forgot to tell me to close my eyes. I don't remember if it helped but my sight was temporarily impaired for about 24 hours. I could not see to write. What about that for a don't-have-my-homework excuse? I have not drunk Vodka since.


Hard liquor and I have always had a hard time; these days I prefer weed and wine. In my opinion, a sip of communion wine didn't count and I had not yet become acquainted with marijuana but sure did love to wear my Mary Jane shoes


As I write this piece, I realize that these were rites of passage experiences in my early search for the subtle world connections. During my teens, I had totally missed the spiritual connection with the sacrament of communion wine. The sacraments of Scotch and Soda and Screwdrivers marked the ending of childhood and the beginning of young adulthood, but I wasn't ready for the wide, wild world. The devas of the grains, grapes and especially the water, were calling but I did not hear them.


Fast forward to December 21, 1963. I was in my senior year at UCLA. I shared my first apartment with a young German woman named Kris. She had immigrated to the USA as an au pair a few years before. She had graduated to a day job with a phone company. Kris was a child during the Second World War and because she had endured starvation and suffering, was wise beyond her years. I was in the ups and downs of my first real relationship with Max, a fellow student, Russian Jew, and amateur photographer/poet. He was full of anger and angst. We were involved in a passionate affair; after all, he was my first love.

My parents had just moved from one town to another in Southern California. They were 35.5 miles and, including transfers, at least a 2 1/2 hour bus ride away. I had promised to help them unpack. Kris had offered to assist. Max had not. But I digress again.


Here is another poem from my "Spirits" series. I realize that I really did connect with the subtle world forces on this auspicious evening of my 21st birthday on the Winter Solstice. Through the sacrament of the Glow Wine, I communicated with the forces of "chiaroscuro", the dark and the light, as I do every year on this day. I have come to understand that my burden, my journey is to shine a light into the dark corners of my life and make a cosmic connection with the subtle world forces.

Here is another poem from my "Spirits" series. I realize that I really did connect with the subtle world forces on this auspicious evening of my 21st birthday on the Winter Solstice. Through the sacrament of the Glow Wine, I communicated with the forces of "chiaroscuro", the dark and the light, as I do every year on this day. I have come to understand that my burden, my journey is to shine a light into the dark corners of my life and make a cosmic connection with the subtle world forces.


GLOW WINE


Midnight on my 21st birthday

I walk into a liquor store in West LA

and buy a bottle of booze because I can

I don't drink but my lover gets drunk

greets the day with an angry hangover

He says,"Don't touch me!"


Kris, my German roommate, and I

ride three buses across town

to help my parents move

from one So Cal suburb to another.


In the late afternoon Mom and Dad

change clothes and depart to his office party

"Hey", I say, "What about my birthday?"

"My 21st on December 21st?"

But they're too busy for my birthday

it's always too close to Christmas


At dusk Kris and I stop work

and to celebrate my special day

she makes hot drink of red wine

citrus slices and exotic spices


Then we toast, we drink

we dance, we sing

we laugh, we glow

to bring back the light

on this Winter Solstice night


What exactly did the subtle world forces want me to share with the world? Both my inner and outer journey through words and images. As an innocent 17 year old, I was primed and ready to find my inner light, but missed the connection. I was searching for the spirit-light that I didn't find in church or at home. I was born on the cusp of the shortest day/longest night of the year in the Western Hemisphere. This particular day begins the annual journey of the return of the light. In my life, I have experienced many long dark nights of the soul and have been gifted with the ability to eventually find the portal of light, the faint glimmer or glow that shows the way to the full light of day. I was searching for that portal and tried to find it first through alcohol. I found it once with the inner glow I felt when I drank Glow Wine on my 21st birthday.


Today, I am learning to look at my life from a different perspective. There have been many doorways that opened for me, but I usually chose to live in the shadows that led to suffering. With a little help, no, a lot of help from my friends and other-world forces, I eventually found the light, transmuted and transformed. Today, instead of dwelling in the shadows and then turning toward the light, I am learning to look for the light in the darkness. It's not easy to change my perspective, but once I view my life from this alternate angle, sometimes I even laugh at myself, or, I should say, with myself. May we all shine on.


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