Six months ago I made a pretty bold decision. I left the comfort of a life I took two years to build in New York City – a stable job, a fabulous apartment, a loving family, great friends – and moved (alone) across the country to Napa Valley to pursue what makes me happy: wine.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – another story about how wonderful Napa is. Or, another story about someone fighting against the constraints of a corporate society and living “the good life”. But, I’m not here to tell you why and how you should and could do the same.
I may be living in the world’s most popular tourist destination next to Disney World, but I still sit at a desk from 9-5 (or these days, more like 8-6). Contrary to popular belief, I don’t drink wine every day. And the sun is not always shining, as evidenced by the three straight days of rain that recently had me doubt that giant ball of gas’s continued existence.
As a local of five months and counting (I have the driver’s license to prove it), I have accepted that Napa is a real place, a place where the line at the DMV is out the door just to get a number to get in the actual line, a place where you will inevitably sit in traffic for twenty minutes behind a tractor just to go two miles.
But, you won’t see that when you come here. When you come to Napa, you’ll be here for three days, a week, perhaps a month. You’ll wine and dine yourself silly at the best restaurants, tour the most famous vineyards and breathe in the fresh harvest smells as you drive up and down Highway 29, the valley’s main thoroughfare. And then you’ll go, back to your home where you work your 9-5 job and have to wait in line at the DMV and sit in traffic.
While I am certainly not discounting the inherent beauty and lifestyle that this little corner of the world has to offer – and will admit that the food and wine are as wonderful as people say they are – I’m here to argue that a large part of the appeal of Napa is the novelty of the experience. When you have limited time to see and do everything, when you’re in vacation mode, you make the most of each and every experience.
That’s why we love to travel. It’s that idea that we remove ourselves from our reality, that we see someplace different from our everyday lives, experience new places, new cultures, new people. And then we leave. We go back to the world we know, remembering our experience fondly – and looking for that next destination where we can create a new escape from reality.
Now, when I go back to New York, each visit is exciting because I know I will only be there for a short period of time. I don’t treat the city as a reality anymore; I treat it as an escape.
And, as for Napa – well, it’s still my reality. Fortunately, though, every now and then a visitor comes who gives me the excuse to escape – without having to hop on a plane.