Cut the tags off 2020, sweetheart: We are proud owners of this new year, and there’s no reason to pretend we can return it.

Time doesn’t offer a refund. We don’t get to try on the future the way we try on a bathing suit and then decide we don’t like it once we see what it looks like in natural light.

We broke the seal on the new year, and it’s ours.

Every year has an expiration date, as does every lifetime. Even the finest wine can’t age forever.

Actually, since I had no idea what the best wine can do (being fond of the kind of pinot grigios that come with screw caps), I did some research — on the computer. I don’t live in the kind of place where you can go to a fine-dining establishment and ask to see their vintage wine list. If you ask a server for a seriously old wine in my neighborhood, they’ll look at you funny and then bring you a half-finished glass from somebody else’s table.

If you respond with a chuckle and explain that, according to the Wine Folly website, appreciating vintage is important because “good vintages have the best opportunities to get better with age and … vintage years hold some serious weight,” they’ll look at you funny and then ask you how much those vintage years actually weigh.


Anyway, it was online that I discovered there are drinkable wines around 300 years old.

I’m not sure how those taste tests work, exactly. Are you supposed to say, “Wow, this tastes exactly like what I thought 1727 would taste like, with hints of the Siege of Gibraltar, a roughness around the edges suggesting the Coronation of George II, as well as pervasive horse manure”?

Or is the idea is to be able to contain, however briefly, in one’s own system a museum-quality beverage, in the way a person might swallow an emerald tiara just to have it in their gut for a while?

While this action might be one person’s definition of fun, it is certainly everybody’s definition of how you can tell an individual has inherited far too much money.

What it also tells us is that what we prize is the concept of rarity. We want to possess what they’re not making any more, what not many others can get and what will distinguish us from others.

I suggest, therefore, that we grab the time we’re given in this new year and hold it close. I suggest we don’t let anybody steal it from us, especially if the thief is our worst self.


When I think about how I have tossed away my time, crumpled it and thrown it into the gutter, left it in trains and buses, forgotten parts of it in poorly lit rooms and abandoned it because I couldn’t be bothered by details anymore, I wince.

I once gave a copy of a valuable book that had been autographed by the author to a passing boyfriend — and I regretted the gesture almost immediately.

I feel the same way when I think of the time I’ve spent avoiding the inevitable, in self-pity, in self-inflicted misery, in wasting weeks or months mourning incidents that should have caused, at the most, fleeting distress. Why did I torment myself over haircuts, grades and uncomfortable conversations? Why did I worry about rejections that turned into lifesavers — and refusals that turned out to be rescues?

Until 20 years ago, I felt as if I had a ferret in my heart, clawing, gnawing and scratching in desperation to get out or get in — I could never tell which — and that creature of despair robbed me of years.

I no longer permit time to be torn apart in such a useless way. When I must grieve, I grieve; when I weep, I weep; when pain comes, I hold tight. Either it will pass or I will find ways to make it familiar.

Now in my 60s, I understand and accept that time is the rarest of all commodities, the greatest of all gifts and the most irreplaceable of items.


There’s nothing to do with time except bring it out from the cellar, open it to the air, share it with those who matter and drink in every moment.

This year’s vintage is best enjoyed this year. Let’s begin.

Gina Barreca is an English professor at the University of Connecticut and the author of “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” and eight other books. She can be reached at

©2019 The Hartford Courant
Visit The Hartford Courant at
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.