So here I am. More than six years later. Fully bearded, gainfully unemployed and a few pounds heavier than the Army would allow, punching out a blog from my childhood room in my parents’ house like the combination cliche of a TV war veteran and a stereotypical New Jersey Italian kid. This time though, it was all part of the plan. Ever since my second tour in Iraq, I dreamed of becoming a winemaker. In my off time I read the books. I absorbed volumes of information, without touching a drop of the precious juice in that dry desert. After leaving the Army, I looked past the head hunters and corporate jobs to work in a wine shop, stocking shelves, tasting, and writing. I went back to school, brushing up on my Microbiology, Botany, and Biochemistry. For years, my journey was a winding path seeming to lead anywhere but the rows of vines and cellars of the winery. Now I am at the pivotal moment when years of war, study, and travel have finally pointed me in the right direction. Tomorrow morning, I will be packing the last boxes into my VW Passat and heading to California.
For a long time I knew when this day would come. What I didn’t plan for, however, was the seemingly daunting circumstances that I would face. Unemployment in the wine producing states of California and Oregon exceed 10%. Months of fruitless job applications and talking to many wineries have only validated my suspicions that competition for seasonal winery jobs is very stiff. Now, with no job and no home, I will simply head west and see if I can make things happen. Yesterday, while going to lunch with my grandparents, I was reminded of one of my grandpas favorite phrases “Live the good life and keep the faith.” In his own words this is really about eating good food and going to church, and I am not sure he would appreciate his own advice being used to “move so far away from the family,” but I have to say it really is the perfect theme for my long journey, and always has been.
This blog will track my journey, meandering into memory, philosophy, and maybe even a bit of comedy, while I figure out how to track down my American dream in the 21st century.