Many moons ago, someone gave me a bottle of decent champagne. I think it might have been leftover from a holiday party. I didn’t have an occasion to open it at the time, and I’m not generally fabulous enough to pop a bottle of bubbly for no reason. It was around the time I first went on submission for the first time ever, so I thought, “I’ll save this for the day I accept an offer for my book.” (Which I realize now is a slightly obnoxious but not uncommon thought pattern for newbies on sub.)
The champagne sat in the way-back of my fridge. And it sat. It sat for so long that I started Googling things like, “Does champagne go bad?”
Oh, there were times when it looked like I’d be opening it. I’d open the fridge door to get some carrots and smile at the bottle. Soon, soon. Maybe I’d pull the champagne flutes out of storage and rinse off the dust, you know, just in case.
HUBRIS ALERT. The occasion to take out the bottle never materialized, despite coming painfully close to fruition.
On some days, that green bottle mocked me from its perch on the shelf. I stuck the Brita pitcher in front of it to hide it. My husband found it one day. “Did you know that there is a bottle of champagne in the fridge? What’s that doing there?”
“Nothing.” Saving that champagne was a stupid idea, I thought. The bottle is going to sit in there forever. I’ll be packing it up for every move. Each December, I’ll debate yanking it out for New Year’s just to get rid of it. If I ever have children and then someday they have to move me into a nursing home, they’ll find it and ask, “Mom, why is there a bottle of champagne from 20– in here?” But I kept it in there anyway. Because part of me always believed that I would, in fact, have the occasion to open it someday.
That bottle became a random symbol of determination, of the hope and optimism a writer needs when working on another round of revision or a fresh first draft. Maybe someday people will read these words I’m writing. If I really REALLY work hard, if I’m patient, and if I’m just a little bit lucky. When that happens, I will celebrate. I will pop that champagne, finally.
You probably know where I’m going with this. That heavy, green, EMPTY champagne bottle went out with last week’s recyclables. The cork is sitting on my desk. Dreams do come true, hard work is rewarded. Patience pays off, and so does optimism. And this is why it’s good to never give up.