Saturday, May 8, 2010

Momma III

“Tell me again why you had to leave?” I asked my mother one night when she was talking about having to dress up to go to the grocery store in Paris. When my mother was eighteen and had just graduated high school her father moved their family from Downey California to Paris France for a work assignment. It was around 1963, my mother was an adult but she was included in the move and from what I could tell….she found a bit of her “wild” in Paris. She didn’t speak too much about it, not really, just little comments about seeing The West Side Story while living there, the grocery store dress up deal….the kissing. I remember this intently; she always said that French men were the greatest kissers on the planet. It was like listening to two different women’s stories when she would walk down memory lane; there was the girl that lived in Downey, wrote for the school paper, wore pedal pushers and fuzzy sweaters…the girl everyone knew would marry young….and well. Then there was the Paris girl, the one that began to feel more like a woman, found little ways to rebel against her very conservative parents, the one that swore off Rum after a night of over indulgence that ended with a Frenchman (probably a good kisser) holding her hair as she rid herself of the vile liquid into a trashcan on the corner of a dark Paris street. I learned at a very young age that there must be something magical about Paris, there was just a wistful romanticism that surrounded my mother when she spoke about being there.
“Oh my grandfather got ill and seeing as I was the eldest and not in school it just made sense for me to be the one to come home and care for him. I was ready to come home anyway” she would report, and that was what it was like….like she was reporting. Not explaining or sharing, retelling the facts of what happened without the addition of feelings, one of the only events in her life that she hid her feelings about. That was the first in a long series of things my mother would do because she felt as if she had to. Sacrifices, she made many.

I continued my exploration of beauty and purity through my palate at The Wine Country. Spending nearly everything I was making on wines from around the world, France my palate was starting to lean towards France with Alsace leading the way, owning my heart a bit as it was a wine from that region that first grabbed me…first made me close my eyes while I was smelling it, opened me, made me understand that I was kind of good at this and made me comfortable talking about wine. I was still buying California wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel (Yeah that’s right Charlie) Syrah and I loved them but my purchases were clearly shifting more to the wines from France. “I’m going to dinner at my boyfriend’s parents and she is making chicken soup, what should I bring?” I asked our store manager. She asked my budget and upon hearing that I wanted to impress them she walked over to the Champagne rack.

I’d had Champagne of course, liked it enough and figured it would make me look kinda sophisticated to bring some to dinner so I went for it. I remember very little about that evening, couldn’t tell you what we talked about, how the soup was, (I’ve had it hundreds of times now and it is delicious) if anyone but me drank the wine….didn’t matter. First sip, small talk. Second sip, pulling me into the conversation. Third sip, I was leaning in on my elbow…getting just a little closer. Fourth sip, the kiss…a French kiss. Fifth sip, hands under the blouse. Sixth sip, fingers slipping under my waistband and unbuttoning my jeans. 1989 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicholas Francois seduced me, shook me, left my skin covered in goose bumps, that little shiver that runs down your spine and me out of breath saying, “Oh fuck, let’s do that again”. That night, with that wine I found not only a passion that would drive me but a comfort and acceptance of my own sensuality that made me feel as confident as I ever had. A connection to pleasure, my own pleasure and how having those tiny bubbles tickle my lips, having that full flavor spread across my palate, the way that first glass seemed to rub that tight patch of skin between my neck and shoulders…the way it reminded me of how it feels to press your bare skin against that of a lover you have been aching for. My connection to wine, the real connection for me was to be one of sensuality…mine and the wine’s. That night set in motion the discovering of a voice that would champion the way wine makes you feel rather than report information. A voice that would, at least for awhile push my mother and I further apart.

I felt alive at work, alive like I never had before. My palate was awake and seeking but so was I. No longer cowering or deferring to my mother, when she would snarl, snap and say things like, “You sound like a slut when you talk like that” I would roll my eyes and shake my head. At first I would seethe with anger and pain sometimes so powerful it would have me sitting on the floor of the ladies room, back against the wall, knees shoved into my chest, my head in my hands….sobbing. Other times just walking away from her without acknowledging her at all, seeking refuge in the front of the store with the people that were happy about me discovering myself, amongst the bottles that brought me such pleasure…away from a woman that saw my happiness as a threat to hers. Her safe place, her cheerleader, the one person that never accused or demanded of her was beginning to search for a life of her own. She was terrified.

“I’m moving to Boulder”…….

Dear Momma,
Champagne, why didn’t we share more Champagne? This Mother’s Day I want to pop a bottle of R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, ($39.99) a wine that not only makes me purr but makes me proud. It was over a dinner at A.O.C (God would you love that restaurant) with an importer friend, (don’t I sound fancy) that I first tasted this wine. Mom he brought the bottles to get my opinion on whether or not he should add it to his portfolio….me, he was asking me. Stunning, both the asking and the wine and it is in small part because of me that this wine is here in California, unreal. Big Champagne, I think we deserve this big Champagne with all its richness. Baked apples and caramel, salty, buttery pie crust and a finish that goes on forever. Yeah that’s what we need, a finish that goes on forever.

To Be Continued….


Chris said...

It's difficult to relay the most complex of relationships-the mother daughter bond.

Sam, you have nailed it with your "Momma" posts.

Well done.

Charlie Olken said...

There was never a question about your ability to share your emotions with us or your ability to carry us in one direction, often dangerously far in that direction until our skins were buzzing for one punch line while you were readying an entirely different and beautifully rendered one in another direction. There has never been a question that you could do that to us.

But, here, the stops and starts, the seeming disconnects that are not disconnected because they are part of the big "whole" is just delicious to taste.

There is electricity here, and I like it. Thanks, Sam.

Sip with Me! said...

Once again, you touch my heart with your words. Should I be surprised? I've withheld comment on your mother series to the end, guess it touches a chord deep within me. I see so many similarities and so many differences but what you've inspired in me (us all) is to think of the story of our own mothers in perhaps a light which reveals rather than hides all those flaws, because that's all part of what made us become who we are. Well done Samantha, you really are a brilliant writer and while you may have an incredible palate, storytelling is your true gift to the world. Thank you for sharing yourself, you're beautiful!

Sip with Me! said...

And did you live in Boulder? I actually fled L.A. and went to CU for college.

Samantha Dugan said...

Very sweet of you to say. I have been overwhelmed by everyone's response to this little series. I've been getting emails like crazy, letters, pictures, stories...unreal how mom's can touch a cord. I was a bit nervous about doing this as I didn't want people thinking I was a mom hater, nothing could be further from the truth. Thank you for getting it and for following.

You are so supportive love. Simply cannot believe you see something here that keeps you coming back over and over again. Remarkable, it's remarkable to me and I am more flattered than you can know.

Sip with Me,
Well I am happy that you were touched lady. I'm not quite done yet but you are correct in my motives. To love, to truly appreciate, to truly must see it all. Thanks for lending your voice to the conversation and for reading of course. Story teller? Well sweet girl, I rather like being called that so thank you. Don't know nothing about gifts or beauty but I can say in all honesty that I have never felt more sincerely cared about by such a broad reaching bunch of wicked cool people than I do right thank you for that too, all of you.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

It's so much different being a daughter than being a son. My relationship to my Mom was far simpler than my sister's. And much simpler than yours to your Momma.

I once lived with a woman who hated her Mother. I don't mean she had a hard relationship with her Mother, I mean she abhorred her and had not spoken to her for more than twenty years. When that lovely woman died I tried to find her Mother, and could not. Her father tried to find her, her friends tried to find her, her siblings tried to find her, no one succeeded. I've never understood how her mother simply vanished, though I did come to understand the hatred between them.

I bring this up simply to say it is the struggle with our mother that defines us. Take away the struggle, no matter how tough it is, and life is unbearable. It certainly contributed to my fiancee's untimely death. Mothers give us life in ways we spend a lifetime struggling to see--your account of your struggles is riveting and lovely.

I love you!

Your HoseMaster

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
I am nearly speechless that you would share that story here. I of course know the story you are talking about, you have shared that with me outside the frames of this silly blog. I know how tightly you hold that part of your life and for you to share that here brought tears to my eyes. So here we are kid, Sam & Ron...naked. This is a gesture of love that maybe only I truly understand but understand I do. I love you and am very touched.

Sara Louise said...

I think you should write a book. There I said it xo

Samantha Dugan said...

You are too sweet girlie. Not the first time I have heard that and what an amazing sentence that is to write...but who besides the 16 of you that read here would read it?! Very moving of you to say and I am glad that you find something here worth wanting to read more about. Kisses to you

Nancy Deprez said...

Book book book book book!

This already reads like the kind of novel I read.

I didn't know your mom when to Paris when she was young.

Beautiful story.