Been one hell of an emotional couple weeks for me. Started last Sunday with me opening a Word document, the contents of which would set in motion a roller coaster of feeling that I have been strapped into and riding ever since. I sat at The Wine Country an hour before closing flipping the pages, the ones I printed out so I could focus on them rather than read them on the screen of the store computer. The pages containing a summarized history of the father I never knew. Much like I responded to the Uncle’s email I took if far lighter than the situation may have called for. Just hit print, even stapled the pages and began reading as if I were not at all attached to the story that I was reading. Got up to help customers on the floor, rang people up, answered the phone then went back to the pages like I were returning to some novel I had flipped face down, spine spread on my desk.
Wasn’t until meeting my husband at our Sunday dinner spot, Tracy’s Bar & Grill that the story began to seep in. I sat there watching him turn the pages, his face intent, eyebrows raising now and then, felling much like I were across from him, fingers slipping between the buttons of my top, fists gathering clumps of my shirt as I ripped the material leaving myself completely exposed. He slid the stapled sheets back in my direction while searching my face for some direction. My husband is the sweetest most patient man I know, I mean c’mon he’s married to this raving case, he has to be but, well heavy emotion and deep conversation kind of freak him out. I know this, respect this and truth be told I’m not much of a “Lets’ talk about our feelings” kinda chick so we work exceptionally well in that respect and yet….here I sat, the words I had read just an hour before becoming more real as his big brown eyes left the page and fell upon me.
I leapt into full rattle. Just jumped into the retelling of revelations and very faint memories, somewhat manic I suppose but I was sitting there so naked and feeling the twisted anguish of someone that loves me not knowing what to say to me. It was perfect for a moment, I was able to think not about what I was feeling and instead turn my attention to soothing him, reassuring him that I was fine….that was until one of those freakish coincidences slaps you in the face and leaves you wondering just who the hell is trying to reach you.
“Oh little Jeannie, you’ve got so much love” fucking jukebox. My heart started pounding like a fist inside my chest, like it had had quite enough of this ignoring bullshit. I was mid sentence and my words simply froze in mid air, my eyes watching my fellow Sunday night reveler, the one that had chosen that particular song, stroll slowly back to their seat at the bar. My mouth was still half open as if I had been hung up or searching for the next word but the truth was I had stopped breathing. I was holding my breath, jaw slacked and heart ripping away at my flesh. I turned back to my husband and had the wind knocked back into my lungs when I saw his face….his face looking at mine that was now streaming with tears. I hadn’t even noticed that I was crying but was helpless to stop it, “I am so not going to be this woman dude. I am not gonna be the crying in a bar chick. You get the bill, I’ll meet you at home” grabbed my backpack and made a beeline for my car.
Spent the next week with my heart and head wide open, devouring every bit of history my Uncle sent, stuffing the information in the gaping holes, coming to terms with the idea that bits of this story, my story will never be fully filled in now that my mother is gone. Been missing her a lot as of late, missing her and wishing she had been more honest with me, more open. Feels a little like trying to finish a T.V. Guide crossword puzzle from like three decades ago….so many of the answers no longer at the tip of anyone’s tongue…
I woke this past Sunday feeling like the Sunday before had happened months ago. Like I had spent an entire month in my head roaming, picking things up, blowing the dust off shelves and finding places to hang my father’s things; his almost photographic memory, his angst, his rebellious nature. Holding the two of us up in a mirror and seeing how we fit. Laughing as I realized that I was not so much unlike my mother, just much more like my father. I may never be able to solve seven across and four down but, well it’s really amazing to get just a little closer.
I popped on Facebook Sunday and made some comment about how I could skip my shower and be enjoying eggs, hashbrowns, steak and sipping a martini in 20 minutes. The first two “likes” came right away along with a couple people chiming in that they wanted to go. I sat in my jammies looking at the clock, could I really start my Sunday in a dark coffee shop bar? Um, yes, yes I could. Tossed the day-before curls in a loose ponytail, painted my face, sent a “Meet us there in 20 minutes” text and headed out.
Walked into Hoff’s Hut and went directly to the bar. I love this bar. Gotta love a bar when you are one of like five people under seventy right?! I was blinking wildly as my eyes tried to adjust, (note to self, get sunglasses dammit) and I searched for the other crazy chick that was down with wasting away in whatever-ville with me on a lazy Sunday morning. Found her sitting at the bar, (I would have gone for a booth God love her) sipping her Bloody Mary and waving at us. Took my seat and was there not two whole minutes before I felt a tap on my arm, “Do you remember when we were married?” older gentleman sipping a margarita with his buddy just to the right of me, “I do and I really miss you” I responded, the grin that he tried to choke down melted my heart and I let out the first of many giggles that I would share with my new ex-husband that morning. He told me “off color” jokes, I laughed and played along with being his wife, discussing the children…our two dogs of which he has custody and whose vet bills are the reason his alimony checks are late. I went back and forth between the ex and the people I had come with, my head far away from puzzles and sad stories, just laughing and feeling so vibrant.
“There is nothing sexier than a woman that can laugh like you do” such a simple comment tossed out by my ex’s buddy but even in my somewhat crazy headed state I let it hit me. Took his unbelievably sweet observation and the dreamy eyes with which he delivered it to my newly open heart. My husband, (the real one) and friend both shook their heads as I bid farewell to my ex-husband and his buddy who took their leave just as our meals were being served. Laughed my ass off as the hostess came into the dark bar, craning her neck before walking up to me and telling me, “I was asked to tell you that your husband just left” say what you will about bars and the people that might be found there before like noon on a Sunday but what I found at that Hoff’s Hut bar with Guy and Mike, well it was just the sermon I needed.
When I was designing my first tattoo, (only have the one but there is one or two more to come) I knew I wanted to include the motto that had seen me through many a dark day; the living on pancakes, the never quite fitting in, the being the mother of a biracial son that I wanted to make sure was never ashamed or in any way hurt by his differentness, the sitting in the front room of my apartment while my baby slept and I poured coffee for the police that were there to file yet another report. Strength in laughter. The one thing that no one could take from me was my ability to laugh, desire to laugh and find some bit of light in the face of things that I was unwilling to let crush or consume me. Took a couple of strangers in a dark bar on a Sunday morning to remind me but I started laughing and began feeling like me again…
Wasn’t even really thinking about it when I reached in my fridge and pulled out a bottle of wine. Don’t think I even really looked at the label, just removed the foil and drove my corkscrew into the neck of the bottle. The perfunctory motions of opening a bottle, the glugging sound as the liquid splashed into the glass, the replacing of the cork, the mindless saunter back to my little couch perch to peruse crap on the information super highway. Cigarette lit, television on, mind off and wandering as it tends to do. I reached down, my fingers taking their assigned places on the glass, the quick swirl, the half assed sniff, my lips parting as the cold lip of the glass slipped between them, the saturation of history….my history, the one that I’ve made for myself spilling across my palate. Francois Chidaine, Francois Chidaine Touraine….
How many times had I had this wine? How many bottles consumed with friends? How many cases sold? How many people now know and love this humble producer because of the words I’ve shared about him? This wine is just as much a part of me as any of the things I’ve learned over the past week or so, in some ways more. This kind of wine, the voice that exploded inside me that demands that I find, drink and share wines like these....this is the me that I know, the laughing me, the me that I think my parents would both be proud of. Could not stop laughing. Been so caught up in the before picture that I had lost sight of the after. I am a product of my parents, their love and passion for one another but it does not define who I am now.
I owe so much of who I am to people like Randy and Dale Kemner, owners of the store where I get to….where they let me thrive. Michael Sullivan, the importer that took me on that life changing first trip to Europe, answered all my questions, laughed with me, believed in me and my palate. Ron Washam and his undying love and support of whatever it is I do here, his finding some sort of beauty in this beast regardless of typos and horrific grammatical errors. Charlie Olken and his even knowing who this humble wine slinger and fumbling blogger was, in letting me tease his palate with grower Champagne, arguing and getting me to take another look at wines that I had long ago given up on. Eric Asimov for sending me that first message telling me that he read me and admired what I was doing here. Thomas and our shared and understood love of the fried potato. Alice and her palate that I understand, her relentless voice and strength when I know it’s not always easy. Jess and Dave for flying or driving out to visit me and partake of my tastings, you two have no idea what that meant and still means to me. Another Day of Crazy, chris, Kevin, Michael Hughes, Benito, Heather, Vicki, Andy, Bill, webb, Sara, John Kelly, Stephen, Alfonso, Nico, Jeremy, David and Wayne….the list just keeps growing and just so you all know, with your help and support, so do I. Thank you. Thank you all…
Just felt like I needed to get that off my chest
There, now you own it
Now I can get back to my silly nonsense