I grew up in Sonoma County. Its proud heritage: wine. Whenever my parents’ friends would visit, the habitual, chosen destination comprised wineries. The Children (myself included) frequently trailed behind the adults at said wineries. Some of my earliest memories encompass us kids scampering through vineyards and tasting rooms, wreaking havoc at wineries. One particularly sun-drenched weekend afternoon my siblings, some children of family friends, and I conducted races on a winery lawn. The inebriated adults sprawled in the shade applauding the contestants … a.k.a. offspring. I galloped over and sprung repeatedly in the air until those older and wiser instigators (ages six and seven to my five) granted my participation.
Within minutes seven kids assembled and aligned. Our destination: the big tree on the opposite side of the grass. A girl screeched, “Go!” and then shrieked in mirth as her dad hoisted her in the air and looped her around. My body pulsating, I threw my leg forward at “Go.” I wanted to win. My competition fluctuated from three to eight year-olds. I scurried, my arms charging and my brain fleeting. I thirsted for victory. I darted a step ahead of the six and seven-years-olds. I would touch the tree. I would win. My eyes radiating, my mouth agape in a preemptive celebration, my fingertips extended… and my mouth ruptured with agony. I disintegrated on the grass a foot and a half from the tree. The ensuing minutes dispensed with me, tears ornamenting my face, trying unsuccessfully to persuade my dad that something was wrong with my mouth. He was convinced I was upset because I lost the race. I was convinced something had happened. As he informed me nothing was amiss, my cheek erupted, swelling viciously. I had been so elated by the idea I might win, I had released my lips into a joyous smile, and a bee had soared in and stung me on the inside of my cheek!