A long time ago, maybe fifteen years or more, I happened to catch an episode of Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days. The Monty Python alum had matured into a world traveler, visiting ports far and wide and reporting on them for his television show. In the episode I watched, Michael almost literally washed up on the shores of Hong Kong after an arduous journey by ship on the South China Sea. I didn't know much about Hong Kong at the time, just that it was an exotic, modern city of skyscrapers that either was or wasn't part of China. I'm much clearer on that whole topic now.
In the episode, Michael was picked up by car and whisked away to his friend Basil's apartment high in the sky. Basil was a cute Asian gentleman with nerdy glasses and a pretty wife carrying their newborn baby in her arms when they welcomed Michael in broad daylight to their home. Even though it was maybe lunch time, the first thing Basil offered Michael was a glass of champagne, which he happily accepted and they proceeded to enjoy the bottle on the balcony of the skyscraper apartment. I remember watching that and thinking it was about the most sophisticated thing I'd ever witnessed. I mean, who keeps a chilled bottle of bubbly on hand for visitors who happen to swing by? I was enchanted by the idea of a friend popping by to see me some afternoon and me suggesting we pop a bottle of champagne and sip the afternoon away. I vowed at that moment that I would always keep a chilled bottle of bubbly in my refrigerator, ready should a friend come by during broad daylight. I'd never seen that episode of Around the World in 80 Days again, but I'd thought of it often when I saw the bottle of bubbly keeping cool next to my butter and juice.
And now, more than fifteen years later, I still keep a bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge, just in case. Of course, I've never had the opportunity to casually pop open a bottle because my friends aren't really the pop-in types and I'm usually at work during the day, but still I keep restocking a new bottle when I inevitably drink the other bottle myself because I don't want it to get too old.
Fast forward to Hong Kong, March 2011. The country is now back in the possession of China after a long stretch under British rule and, more importantly, I'm going to visit for the first time to see my dear friend Lisa and her husband, who moved there a couple of years ago for her job. After ten long, hot, beautiful but challenging days in northern India, my parents and I arrived in Hong Kong where a car picked us up at the airport and whisked us off to Lisa and Kwesi's apartment high in the sky. As we settled into the comfortable leather furniture on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, Kwesi offered to pop open a bottle of champagne. My head started spinning, I had certainly never shared the Michael Palin story with Lisa and Kwesi, yet here I was in Hong Kong, in broad daylight, high up in a skyscraper overlooking Victoria Harbor, drinking a flute of champagne with friends. It was like my life had come full circle and some unintentional self-fulfilling prophecy had come to fruition.
Fast forward again to Minneapolis, April 2011. Upon returning home I shared this story with my sweet boyfriend, Doug. I told him how magical it was to feel like I was walking in the shoes of Michael Palin, going around the world and serendipitously repeating a part of his journey that had meant so much to me. Just recently Doug and I were out for a walk and went past the wine and spirits store in my neighborhood. We ducked in to see what looked good and Doug purchased a really nice bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne, even though I protested that it cost too much. When we returned to my place, Doug placed the bottle of bubbly on the counter and next to it a new DVD copy of Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days, so that I could watch the Hong Kong sequence once again after all this time and relive the magic that I had lived in real life just weeks before.
Feel free to stop by some afternoon, the champagne is on ice.