Fort Worth, I Love You.

Travel

fort worthWhen I first decided to stay in Texas sometimes I would catch myself wondering why I was still there I’d graduated past my initial reason for coming here in the first place. I chose Texas Christian University based on the close proximity to my longtime boyfriend and because I looked good great in purple, but the least appealing feature of school was it being in Fort Worthless (as I used to call it). While I was a student I assumed the level of conformity necessary to survive at TCU. Joining a sorority and having a general care for the football team became staples, yes, but I was getting an amazing education I wouldn’t trade for the world – which was clearly how to handle myself at the beer pong table.

Kidding. Sort of.

Then, I found a man who introduced me to another side of this lovely town. He helped me to reacquaint myself with the very massive world outside of the TCU bubble. I found a love for the local music, for the mom-and-pop shops around town, for the plethora of amazing people who choose to live here because they like a city and not a campus. I stumbled upon a network of people who filled me with a satisfying joy because they were individuals who saw Fort Worth as a fast-growing opportunity for fun and personal growth. clearforkFort Worth has a hometown vibe that is undeniable. Fairmount, where hipsters run-a-muck between craft beer paradise and dive bars full of familiar faces. Jukeboxes full of melodies handmade down the block from the bars in a home with a fully functioning front porch. A tightly knit community, clearly evident from the literal knitted decorations adorning the bike racks along the street.

coffeeThen cruise on down to the Stockyards where tourists come and go by day, and locals swarm the same spots every weekend. See the same cowboy hats and know exactly which dance moves they’ll be spinning out on the dance floor that night. Get asked the same questions, like where to eat or what to see and give the same generic answers, knowing deep down you’re a little proud of the kitschy culture down here where the smell of cow pies litters the air with the sound of plucky guitar strings and country twang accents.

sundance sqaureDowntown is a beacon of Fort Worth, with Sundance Square the center jewel among the glittering tree lights that line the quaint streets. Local stores dot the cobblestone street of Camp Bowie, reminding usĀ  that everywhere in this city there is a collision of history, while forging onto new frontier. The dirty Trinity River glides throughout the city, but who can care less about cleanliness when you can watch a free concert from a tube at Panther Island Pavilion.

tube trinityOn a fortunate day off, I can wake up and grab locally roasted coffee from a barista who knows my name. I can go and sit in the Botanic Gardens or the Water Gardens. If by chance it’s a rainy day, I can go to one of the three museums nestled next to each other in the Cultural District and spend the day admiring a well-curated collection of artists from around the world. I have the option of going to a brewery tour, the zoo, bike riding, paddle boarding, or an outdoor concert on a small patch of green. The craziest part? The majority of these options are free because Fort Worth loves it’s people just as much as the people love it. It’s a mutually satisfying relationship that contributes to the friendly smiles, generous conversations, and general happiness you find threaded throughout this lovely city.

greenmuseum water gard botanic

Now, I realize it’s a no-brainer why I stayed. But somehow I still get questioned for my choice. This post is for those of you that don’t understand the wonderful nature of Fort Worth. Hopefully you don’t realize it is, in fact, terrific.

We don’t need it turning into Austin. I hear Dallas is nice.

What I’ve Learned Working at a Winery

Drinking, Personal

I graduated in May 2013 and since then I have not really made any progress towards getting a job relating to my degree. But it’s due to a lack of effort or desire rather than rejection.

I started working at winery while I was still in college and I fell in love with it. My co-workers brought me joy, my customers made me happy, and my product made me drunk. What exactly was there to complain about?

But like any job, people come and go, procedures change, and customers cycle out over time. It’s inevitable. I still love my job, but since becoming a college graduate and then taking on a role as an assistant manager I’ve come to look at it from a very different perspective.

The set up of our winery is a bar and we are located in tourist part of the city. I’ve seen people from all over the country and world walk in. I’ve met people who know about vineyards and wine regions to those who deem Moscato and Boone’s Farm to be the ultimate wines. Ultimately I’ve begun to judge people based on how they walk into the winery. Do they look confused and lost? Do they look thirsty? Are they wearing anything bedazzled? Is there hair teased? All these check marks mentally run through my mind as I causally greet them and introduce our little business model.

Boones Farm: Your virginity never stood a chance.

Regardless of these seemingly pre-programmed questions, I’ve also been taught and re-taught not to judge a book by it’s cover. The woman with the thickest redneck accent is the wealthiest and most generous customer who I’ve encountered. The rough looking bikers who have become close friends who encourage adventure and portray a beautiful image of high school sweethearts 20 years later. The loner male wearing sagging jeans who wandered in on a Monday asking for Chianti with an impeccable Italian accent who wanted nothing more than a glass of wine and for someone to listen to his time stationed in Naples, Italy. The woman who just spent three weeks away for work, whose first place she wants to arrive is the winery because it literally feels like home to her.

These people remind me daily how many beautiful individuals there are in the world and how lucky I am to serve them and help them bring a bit of blurriness to their rather hectic every day lives. Moments like these punctuate the day in and day out at work and remind me why it matters that I am here. Strangers: I recognize you, I listen to you, and I deeply care about how your day was when no one else really gives a damn that you had an eye infection that caused you to lose your dog and now you are crying into your glass of Merlot and I’m bringing you a napkin to wipe up your tears.

On the flip side, there are those individuals who make you feel ashamed for being a server. These people relish in the idea of being demanding and ordering someone around, dangling a tip in your face in exchange for a smile, a glass of water, conversation, three glasses of wine, endless questions about how the wine is made, and two bags of bottles later they scribble in the tip line a measly two dollars and scurry out after turning the receipt paper over to hide their gross injustice to you. These people are small and weak in their every day lives and want to make someone, just for a moment, feel as insignificant as they feel daily. I feel sorry for them because they see me as a pair of hands holding a bottle, rather than for a person capable of being much more to them.

Throughout the myriad of tasting glasses, empty clanking of bottles, spilled wine, drunken laughter, and handshakes I hope that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life even if it was for a moment. I hope I am part of story later on down the road. I have faith that I am more than just a lowly wine-tress because I believe that I am.

More importantly, however, is the fact that I allow people to become a part of my story. I enjoy seeing their faces and hearing about their lives just as much as they enjoy the wine I serve them. At this junction, over a year into working here, I have come to love the people more than my co-workers and the wine. When my time comes to a close here and five years later I am applying for a job and I’m asked to explain a gap in my resume, I want to simply reply, “I was busy learning how to treat people they way we all want to be treated deep down by strangers.”

And I truly hope that’s sufficient because I’m not sure that, “I was busy being a wine-o” will be.