Oversharing Over The BEST Red Wine Sangria
I know I’m going to hate myself in 10, 20, 30+ years for saying this, but I feel OLD lately. Well, maybe not “old,” but I’ve only recently become aware that I’m an adult. Like a real, full-fledged adult. I agree that it seems wonky that I HAVEN’T realized this despite the usual tell-tale signs: graduating college, working full time, living with a boy, worrying about things like paying bills instead of what I’m going to do on Saturday night etc., but seriously, time…take it easy.
Despite my adulthood denial over the past several years, a few things slapped me in the face with reality lately. First off, a couple weeks ago I talked to a college student who is turning 21 next month and I said something along the lines of, “Oh man, live it up now. I wish I had drank more BEFORE I was 21. It was way more exciting.” First off, am I suddenly an old man reliving the good ol’ days? More importantly, Katie, let’s be real; you were never a big drinker, and still can hardly have 2 beers without getting all giggly and wobbly-legged. As a side note, this conversation is strangely reminiscent of 7-year-old me warning my 6-year-old neighbor to enjoy kindergarden while she could, because WHOA did they hit you hard in first grade.
The second slap-me-in-the-face moment of adulthood clarity: my 5-year college reunion. I know anyone older than me is throwing their hands in the air saying, “Ohhhhhkay 5 years, big deal, kid,” but seriously where does time go? And why do all the other 2008 graduates still look exactly the same? And does that mean that I look the same? And why am I at the bar I used to go to on Thursdays for karaoke? And why did I not take social-lubrication vodka/rum/99 Berries (shudder…) shots before I arrived like I did in college? Oh right, adulthood. Dang it.
Thirdly, today marks ten years (a DECADE) since a game-changing moment in my life. When I was 17, I had anterior-posterior spinal fusion surgery for an upper thoracic curve (aka scoliosis). Most of the details from that day are lost in my foggy mind, but I remember a few random things quite clearly: reciting Finding Nemo quotes with my sister on the early-morning drive to the hospital, waiting in the prep room and hoping that the backup blood, which didn’t arrive on time, wouldn’t actually show up at all so I could just go home to a normal teenage summer, my mom telling the doctor, “You take care of my baby” before they knocked me out, and perhaps most clearly, I remember opening my eyes in the post-op room, holding up my pointer and middle fingers, and saying “Peace” towards my family’s faces, which quickly went from tired and anxious to relieved and slightly confused.
After I was diagnosed at age 11, I did everything I could to cover up my curve. I grew my hair long, rarely put my hair up in ponytails (only begrudgingly so for sports), wore hoodies whenever possible, and made sure to always position myself in pictures so that only my “good side” showed. Although people rarely brought it up, I felt as though I was trying desperately to keep a secret that everyone already knew. In 8th grade a friend gave me a hug, only to ask what was wrong with my back as soon as she touched my shoulder blades and noticed the discrepancy between sides. I have absolutely no clue what I told her, but I can guarantee it wasn’t the truth.
Although doctors discussed the possibility of surgery with me, my curve’s severity and location fell in the grey area where I had the choice to move forward with surgery or leave my back alone. I firmly decided just a few short months before my surgery date that I could not live the rest of my life with the fear and insecurity I had experienced everyday for six years, so under-the-knife I went. I couldn’t tell you where I got the balls to make that decision, since I struggle to decide what shoes to wear every morning, but I am thankful every day that I did.
Even after the surgery mostly corrected the physical symptoms, I rarely told anyone other than a few select friends about my back. If someone asked about my scars I avoided answering and changed the subject (not a smooth or un-awkward transition, mind you). I never explained the scars or talked about my surgery with anyone I dated until I went out with The Beast, who somehow got this closed-off girl to talk about personal stuff on the 3rd date (yes, he’s a keeper for sure).
Until recently, I felt ashamed and insecure about my scoliosis. I feared that people who knew my story would focus on my condition and how I differed from them physically. Yet here I am, 16 years after my diagnosis, and 10 years post-surgery, sharing it with invisible internet folks, because now I realize that although it’s part of me, it doesn’t define me. The scars that I used to try so hard to cover up now give me strength, make me proud of who I’ve become, and put even the worst of days into perspective. Moreso than any of the adult milestones mentioned above, this attitude shift has made me realize that I might actually be all grown up.
Ahhhhhhem. I think that’s enough of a trip down memory lane, don’t you? My main point here is that we should probably drink today.
Since I’m not in college anymore, and I am a
mostly responsible adult, I think today calls for a classy and beautiful sangria. I should mention that this sangria has resulted in less-than classy behavior on my part, and actions which The Beast will never let me live down. My friend Emily calls this recipe “Awesome Juice,” but I just call it good enough to drink 2 full Nalgenes of by yourself, yet recommend that you try your darndest to avoid doing so (not that I know anything about that).
In all seriousness (which is unusual for me), here’s to embracing our past, present, and future selves.
Now go drink your sangria.
The BEST Red Wine Sangria
A fruity and simple red wine sangria that's perfect for summer!
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1/4 cup gin
- Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup triple sec
- 1 bottle red wine (I used $4 organic wine from Trader Joe's)
- 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
- 1 lime, sliced into rounds
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 apple, cut into chunks (I used Granny Smith)
- Gingerale, for serving
- Combine the brandy, gin, lemon juice, concentrate, orange juice, red wine, and triple sec in a large pitcher. Drop in the sliced fruit.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This step isn't necessary, but it is recommended. Like all sangria, this recipe will get even better with time, but you can drink it right away if you can't wait (no judgment here).
- When ready to serve, fill each glass about 2/3 with sangria and 1/3 with gingerale (feel free to adjust this ratio to your liking).