Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Give To Me Your Leather

“Sam, keep up in here, I don’t want to lose you!” Michael Sullivan grabbing my wrist and giving me a firm tug. One that would jar me from the spot where my feet had seemingly frozen to the heavily worn concrete, the “bang-bang-bang!” of the fish monger’s cleaver breaking through large seagoing creatures the likes of which I’d never seen, the market patrons with their wicker baskets overflowing with vibrant veggies, long stalks of golden flowers and still-warm-enough-to-be-aromatic loaves of bread scurrying past my dizzied frame on their way home to prepare the evening’s feast. Michael’s stern but playful tone, and the fear of getting lost amidst the flurry, enough to inspire one foot and then the other to move from the fish counter, weave my way into the river of moving bodies and quickly chattering voices, right behind Michael as he made his way to the corner of the market that housed the number one reason we were there, the black footed, “Illegal back home” ham that Michael said we all had to try. 

It was somewhere near day 20, I think, of my 25 day, first trip to Europe, the one I tried everything to get out of going on and the one that had changed me so much, already, that the thought of leaving would bring tears to my eyes. We’d been all over France for most of the trip; Champagne, Burgundy, Northern and Southern Rhone, through the Roussillon to here, a bustling market in a breathtaking city nestled in northeastern part of Spain. There to buy ham, roasted red peppers, wide, firm green beans, jars of delicate cured fish filets….rest and shake out our travel weary bones and suitcases. Michael had only recently purchased the 450 year old farmhouse and thought it would make a nice little stop before we continued on to the Loire. Rooms chosen, bags opened and airing out as we took turns with the washing machine, selecting only the most cherished of items to be washed in order to give everyone equal time and clothesline space on our two day vacation. 

Travel mates napping or simply enjoying some time away from our forced pack, Michael either off on his beloved bike or maybe preparing platters of snacks for us to devour before heading back into town for dinner and I had borrowed one of my fellow traveler’s portable cd player and headset. The sun hanging unusually warm in the sky, warm enough for me to wander about the property, not straying too far from the house for fear of my horrifically bad sense of direction, sleeves rolled way up so I could feel as much of that glowing orb on my skin as possible without going all nymphet, stripping down to my crunders and spreading out on the poor man’s lawn. I found a sun-warmed patch of soft, plushy grass, untied the nowhere near needed sweatshirt from my waist and fashioned it into a rudimentary pillow to rest my noggin and enhance my little grass nap. Lying there, the smell of wild flowers, freshly cut grass and sun drenched earth, my forearm draped across my forehead, eyes squinting from the intensity of the sun, my chest expanding and swelling so much with each breath that it would lift and arch my back before the deeply satisfying exhale settled me back, well back to earth as it were. Peace, a genuine sense of peace settled into my soul that afternoon…the terrified and insecure girl that had woven all the little intricate bits of trauma into a razor wire suit that kept things from getting too close to see how scared I truly was, well that trip, those people, the freezing cellars of Burgundy, the bustling market in Spain, the sheer beauty and wonder of it all…well they had been chipping away at my protective suit and now the woman I was becoming was starting to bang away at it from the other side. I felt my lips pull tight across my teeth and the corners of my eyes scrunch as a fantastically honest smile spread across my face before I hit the play button on the cd player to hear,

“Is love so fragile

And the heart so hollow
Shatter with words
Impossible to follow
You're saying I'm fragile
I try not to be
I search only
For something
I can't see

Lovers forever
Face to face
My city or mountains
Stay with me stay
I need you to love me
I need you today
Give to me your leather
Take from me
My lace

Give to me your leather
Take from me my lace" 

Stevie Nicks Leather and Lace…..exhale.

Ten years ago today I was on that trip that would forever change me, and in ways that I’m still discovering. Friendships. Love. Trust. Education. My Palate and My Voice…they came to be because if the things I saw, touched, smelled and tasted there and in just over a month from today I will be walking up to the door of that 450, well shit, we best make that a 460 year old farmhouse in Girona, ipod loaded with Stevie Nicks, heart more open than I could have ever dreamed. I will walk those market stalls, pick up the same jars of tender fish filets, pluck handfuls of wide green beans, load my bags with aromatic loaves of bread before heading back to the house, that house, to cook for friends and family. I got me this here ipod, my big dumb heart and now.....an unquenchable thirst for more. 

Thank you Michael Sullivan, for the ten years ago, the now and all the wine soaked bits in between. Oh and I promise, I shan't strip down to my crunders on your lawn this time either! Love ya Mister. 


webb said...

What a wonderful trip. You ARE taking your laptop, so you can blog ... right? Right!

Samantha Dugan said...

I so need it. Yes, bringing the laptop and the ways I hears it, he went and got him some internets and wifi even! So you can expect to hear lots from me...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
You were lucky to have a Michael Sullivan adopt you, and he was wise enough to recognize your talent and potential. The whole experience paid off for both of you in a big way. It's one of the best things about the wine business, that sort of passing of the torch, sharing our passions and wisdom with those we feel share our values and love for wine. So much of the rest, as demonstrated by the endless fluff posted all over the Internet, is hooey.

Any trip that involves You can only be a blast. And if you want to sit on Michael's lawn in your panties, I'm guessing he won't mind. But watch out for gophers.

I love you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Sweet Love,
Trust me, I've gained far more than Michael in the course of our friendship. The meals, the wines, tasting Lafon Montrachet while laughing in the cellar with Dominique Lafon? The level of wine I've been able to cut my teeth on is a gift to me each and every day and for that I will forever be indebted. To his calling me a peer and helping me see that this wine thing might be something I'm good at? For that he will forever have this awkward ace in his back pocket, there to call on should he ever need me....not that he ever would. He's a good person and I've been lucky to call him a friend.

Oh the only reason he wouldn't mind if I was traipsing about his lawn in my crunders is because he wouldn't be there and horrified by such an awful sight! Ick, all bad. Not too worried about gophers, with my fucked up history I've been nuzzled up next to far worse...and with more hair. Oh yeah, a trip with me is always a blast I'm nothing if not tons of fu....well just TONS.
I love you too.

Marcia Macomber said...

Marvelous post! You take us on an all-senses aware tour of France and Spain. Have a blast on your trip, m'dear!

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh it's still over a month away but I will enjoy it you betcha.

Romes said...

I'm continually amazed at our connections, as I too took my first Life changing European trip just weeks past 10 years ago. Of course it would be another five years before I fell in love with France, but that first trip definitely changed my life forever. Can't wait for the time we can be there together, wasn't there a plan with me, you and Dave Matthews visiting Sarah in LPV? When was that happening? I need something to plan and look forward to...
Love you

Samantha Dugan said...

A couple girlie friends, a country that loves food and wine AND Dave Matthews?! Fuck, I might never leave!!

I think part of our connection is our willingness to let some place, flavor, sound, smell, someone, take us over and change us...and I love you for understanding me.

Sara Louise said...

I am so hoping that I will be able to clink glasses with you in that 460 year old farm house!

Samantha Dugan said...

I have access to girl scout cookies...just trying to sweeten the pot as it were.