Today the air is clear and dry and tinged with the scent of fruit. It is spring, according to the cherry blossoms and the mornings alive with birdsong, the sunshine bursting forth over Mt Hood to bathe our Portland Metro in long-forgotten light.

I spent part of this spring day downtown in the posh suburb near the real estate office where I work. First to the local spa for a gift certificate, then over to the Domaine Serene tasting room in search of a suitable bottle of bubbly—two classic client closing gifts that say, ‘It’s been a road, now time to relax!’

I passed people at outdoor coffee shop tables taking in the day, ankles folded over knees, and a delivery person with a family of bubble gum pink balloons tied around her waist. Everywhere pale toes peeped out from under sandal straps, daring the suddenly mild air. Two nights ago we’d had temperatures in the 30s, but then that was two nights ago and it might as well have been last year.

Soft piano jazz and a hostess with a complexion like sugar sprinkled over cream greeted me as I swung open the tasting room door. The hostess nicely explained she wasn’t an expert on their full selection but would I care to take a seat at the bar while she hailed someone who was?

I actually didn’t care to take a seat at the bar for a couple of reasons: first, I don’t drink wine (I know, what’s the matter with me?) and second I’d had it in my mind that I could just grab a gift box of champers as if from a country store barrel, then get thee back out into the day where I belonged.

Belonged… That was my issue here, really. I don’t belong here, I thought as I squirmed sideways onto the leather stool and silently willed the bartender (winetender? I don’t know) to make it snappy.

What had changed? A moment ago I was sailing along on the blossom-scented breeze. Now I was pretty sure I was wearing the wrong sort of shoes and that my jacket—my favorite sporty one—was definitely more than a little outmoded. The piano kept on tinkling from somewhere unseen and a connoisseur with an expensive looking haircut considered his menu at a table by the window. At last the winetender approached, cleavage first, to ask if I was a member.

As it turned out, she just wanted to check and see if I was familiar with their offerings. I explained I wasn’t and made a quick choice between the sparkling wines and the bruts she offered up (naturally a brut, was that right?). She nodded and skimmed off to wrap the gift.

I didn’t know where to look or what to do with my legs. Cross them? Recline and sling an arm over the back of the empty stool next to me? Honestly it was like I’d just dropped into this body of mine sitting at this wine bar in this bougie little town I’d until this very moment thought of as home. Why was I so frigging uncomfortable? I began to sweat like a cheap bottle left out in the sun.

Then I saw the woman sitting alone at the end of the bar, four tasting glasses arranged beside her like friends. A bowl of oysters rested in their rippled shells at her elbow and she was contentedly scrolling through some photos on the laptop she’d unreservedly opened right there as if inhabiting her own kitchen island.

I watched her reach an easy hand toward the oysters, eyes still on the screen. The shell traveled to her mouth where she tipped it, swallowed, and deftly returned the thing to the bowl.

It was the most natural action in the world, this retrieving of glamorous foodstuff for the purpose of consuming it. Everything about this oyster-eater was natural, in fact, from the soft angle of her back where she sat slightly cocked on her stool, the toe of one ballet flat wrapped around her calf, to the casual upsweep of her salt and pepper hair. The half-smile on her face as she considered her photos, the unhurriedness of her, the bloody permission of her sitting there just doing whatever she pleased.

And it struck me. It could actually be that simple. Yes to sitting in a wine bar with oysters—or not—in a three-seasons-old sporty jacket—or not. Yes to whatever you wanted to do and wherever you wanted to do it. Yes to it’s okay your being here, even if a moment ago you were sure it wasn’t.

Did I leave the tasting room on a cloud of rarified air, trailing transcendence in my wake? Well no. I left it much the way I’d come in, but with something else as well, something like a little less space between myself and the allowing of that.