Alanah Davis: Year of Ferment

Photo by Paul Steuber for Unsplash

It’s the morning of Sept. 9, 2020, which means for Baltimore City Public Schools it’s the second day of school.

My children are still in bed, which is unusual in comparison to yesterday’s ferment. They were both up by 6 a.m. and in their uniforms for virtual school shortly thereafter.

Has the novelty worn off already? I know that it has for me.

Alanah Nichole Davis

I should be a bit more enthused than I am and the bottles of wine I keep on the bottom row of my vintage tea cart are staring at me harder than they should be. Glaring even. I’ve spent more time in the evenings alongside friends than is probably healthy with my hand clasped around the neck of a glass bottle in the hopes of finding some temporary peace in this turbulent year.

Maybe I should have picked up on something healthier like going to the track or jump-roping? Nah, that wouldn’t be as fun.

It’s the morning now, so — mimosa me. Only I don’t have orange juice, so I’ll just have champagne? Yes, I always have a bottle of champagne here.

After all, 2020 is truly a year of ferment, which can also mean excitement and trouble caused by change or uncertainty. Wine is a fermented drink that dates back to ancient China, and while I don’t know much else about its history, I do know that it excites me — that’s synchronicity.

In the fermentation process for wine, the presence or lack of oxygen alters its taste and texture. Given the number of times I have felt the world and its airways being constricted by a series of very unfortunate events, I’m guessing that 2020 is a glass of dry red? Best paired with a box of tissues and a plate of pasta? 

My only other questions at this point are who brought this bottle of dry red to the party and how do we dis-invite them in 2021? I’m guessing the partial answer to that is for us to vote.

The sound of a gaggle of 6- and 8-year-olds is now permeating my dining room table from two different electronic devices. I can barely think, and the bottles on the tea cart are screaming at me. I’m ignoring them, for now.

I did, however, just have a bagel, which also requires a process of fermentation, just doesn’t quite have the same effect.

If 2020 were a bread it definitely would not be a yummy cinnamon raisin bagel — it would absolutely be a failed sourdough. I think most of us are babbling at this point, myself included. The classroom is now playing top 40 songs sung by kids during a 4-minute class break. My youngest daughter is scowling at me and has logged out of her class. I don’t know why, and I really can’t blame her. I’m not going to ask. 

I’m bubbling over with uncertainty as I also venture into virtual classes for my Masters degree at Maryland Institute College of Art. How, as a single mother, full-time student, and freelancer am I going to manage this all? Wine, lots and lots of wine, and champagne. Definitely gin — and a good planner.

 

Alanah Davis
Alanah Davis is a Baltimore-based artist, community advocate, social change and arts consultant. She is an M.A. candidate in Social Design at Maryland Institute College of Art.