Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Plunging Back In

I pulled the thick black iron gate closed just as the security guard was walking up to kick any hangers on out and close the pool for the night. Jeremy’s old dolphin beach towel draped over my shoulders, hair slicked back with fat droplets of pool water swinging from the ends and dropping cold and refreshing on my neck. The skirt along the bottom of my bathing suit swaying back and forth, dispensing drops of water behind me, a trail of proverbial breadcrumbs for me to find my way back when I need it. 

A slight breeze hitting my still wet skin making it pull taught and covering me in a rash of tiny thrill bumps. I wriggled out of my wet suit, no easy feat I assure you, at one point I got my hair and left arm tangled it my soaked suit and actually contemplated just lying on the bathroom floor and waiting for the paramedics that would eventually be sent when I didn’t show up for work for a couple days. I huffed, wiggled and puffed and eventually freed my Willie like frame from my wet swimsuit. Still a little tacky with wet I slipped into my jammies, opting to not wash the pool water off me, and slowly walked into the living room and settled into the corner of my couch. Settled is too rigid a word, I melted into the corner of my couch, my skin chilly and perfumed with chlorine, the smell of my childhood hideout….deep under water and away from all the ugly that banged and barked inside the big fancy house my mother and I hid from our poverty in.

To this day I can dunk my head under water, feel my ears fill with gently sloshing silence, feel the water wrap around my flesh in that sensual way that reminds me of running my tongue along the inside of my cheek, and I can recall how it felt to run to that pool and wash off all the filth, anger, rage, pain and utter humiliation that was the cost of admission to live in that fancy place. The way I would hold my breath as long as I could, maybe longer than I should, and hope all the hate and ugly would just rumble by. I’d take some of the hits, I could handle the emotional bruises but on the nights when my brother’s father came looking for blood I’d scurry outside and hide in the silky mouth feel of the pool. 

Last night I slowly slipped my 45 year old head, full of all its own trauma, confusion, anxiety and sadness, under the cool crisp water. The blur of my vision, the act of filling my chest with as much oxygen as I could possibly suck in, the slow swaying of my hair as it drags behind me when I move….the achingly soft water wrapping around my thick body, lifting me and making me float in a manner of elegance I could never atain stomping about with my clunky frame on dry land. The thugish tone of the world around me quiet for as long as I could hold my breath. No Trump, no mass shootings, no murderous crushing of bodies beneath the wheels of a truck, no black men shot while lying on the ground, no police officers murdered, no Cancer and no heart attacks. Just the float of my weary body, the slosh, the smell, the me alone in the dark waiting for someone to come tell me it was time to get out. I only wish I could have spent another hour…or four.

I quietly closed my windows, already concerned that I’d been too exposed, my scented flesh smelling like a rare form of timeout, one it had been years since I’d been, sent to, I made my way to my fridge, more seeking and longing for quiet, hiding and an elegant float. 

It was late, my fingers were just beginning to reconstitute and plump up, my hair less drippy but still slicked back and clinging to my skull, I debated what to open to end this evening. Beer, well it’s inexpensive and refreshing. I love it and something about it makes me slunk into a deep comfort that makes me sleep like the truly stoned. No. Not what I wanted. Rose? I’ve consumed gallons of it already this season. The crispness and uncomplicated nature could easily have soothed me into that sexy quiet hum that sends me off to bed, likely seeking the next distracting float. Nope. Not what I was feeling. The politics of the day, the loss of not one, but two dear friends in less than a week, the memory of both…..their laughs, their fierce passion, recklessness and willingness to jump directly in the deep end guiding me, asking me to have one for them, I went for it.

At 10:30 on a “school night” I popped the cork on a bottle of N.V. H. Billiot Cuvee Laetitia. Fuck it, I’m all in. The chlorine still streaming from my pores I pulled back the foil, unhurriedly gave the gate of the cage a few twists, my thumb holding the cork in place as my wrist tilted the bottle and begged the cork to escape, for me. “Hissss” the whisper of relief as the wine spun past the cork and filled my nostrils and hopes with things to come. I could feel my heart thumping around in my chest and the sides of my tongue grow even wetter with anticipation.

Shuffling back to the couch I could smell the layers unfolding in the glass. The brioche, the graham cracker, the apples bubbling away in a hot pan full of brown butter. The narrative of the wine almost like a love letter from a never before touched love, full of promise, hope, sensual intensity and heart-ripping desire. I let the wine sit and wait for me. Grow warmer and more open as I slathered thick and luscious lotion on my skin. Felt the last couple week’s plagues of death, strife, angry words, confusion and frustration take a back seat to the ultimate inclination to choose pleasure over wallowing and regret. I even took a bit of masochistic joy in making myself bobble head in the rich heady aromatics for half an hour before I took the wine between my lips 

Body now dewy and wet from oily lotion, mind free of all the ugly, I reached for the glass and let the expansive, rich, chewy Champagne fill my entire head, from the very tip of my wanting tongue to the little switches that  flick on and off taking snap shots and taking mental notes. The Laetitia literally spread herself across my palate leaving my nose and tongue longing and plunging, searching and handcuffed to her next exposed layer. That wine, in that moment, well it owned me and I swear I have the lashings to prove it. Fuck, what a monster of a soul possessing wine. Exactly what I wanted. Moreover, exactly what I needed. You win. I’m most happily yours.....

Rest quietly and floating Tim Flynn and Steven Tualemoso, you will be missed and envied for your teeth sinking of this here life...and I will miss you so. 


Dale Dimas said...

Just adore your writing. Whenever there's a new chapter, the love affair begins all over, making me want to go back and re-read everything I've read before. You are a treasure, Samantha. Thank You!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I've been waiting for you to write again. I'm just terribly sorry it's about such a sad subject. I knew about Tim Flynn from you, but I didn't know Steven and didn't know you had suffered such a loss. If you liked and admired him, that's good enough for me. You're the best judge of character I know.

I think floating in a pool is a lovely metaphor for loss. We just float above grief. I'm so sorry, Baby. I've had my own losses lately, as you know. I wish I could be in that pool with you.

Wine, in this case Champagne, can bring us grace. I'm glad you found some of that in your chosen Champagne. I love you, and I wish you had seeked solace in our love.

You're a beautiful woman, and a gorgeous writer. This piece withstands several readings. We all miss your voice, and your guidance.

I love you so!

Samantha Dugan said...


Damn, I can't believe there are people still willing to take a chance on me! You have been a tremendous gift to me that is to be sure, and I even got to hug ya once! Your words warmed those parts that have felt cold without this place. I miss being here and I want so badly to come back and share my wines, story, life with those of you that are, for whatever crazy reason, are willing to come along for the ride. Knowing you guys are reading make me want to be better. So thank you so much for that. xoxoxo

Ron My Love,
Yeah, got hit over the head with the news of one of my favorite old time staff members,and dear friend, passing away last week. Found out Sunday morning and after the news of Tim losing his 3rd battle with fucking Cancer, well Steve's heart attack, at like 46 years old, well it felt like some cruel fucking punishment. Both men leave young sons behind which is just breaking my heart, for everyone. My loss is just one in a sea of many as both these men were exceptional. Adventurous, charming, funny, wickedly funny in fact, surfed, skateboarded, loved and lived hard. People don't meet people like those two very often, I feel lucky to have had two of them cross my path and be a part of my life. The thing that brought us together brought me solace last night, wine. An exceptional one.

I know you've been dealing with your own issues which is why, along with my own deflation and wanting to retreat a bit, is why I didn't want to add more stuff to your plate Love. I'm fine. Better than so many that are going to be crushed for a long time to come. I just took this as a sign, I need to do the things that make me soar, feel happy, feel alive, writing is one of those things for I came here. I hope I stay here. I hope you stay here too....

I love you too.

Joe said...

Lovely writing. Sorry for your losses, and thank you for wearing your heart on your sleeve.

Samantha Dugan said...

The loss is hardly mine alone and mine is infinitesimal compared to the others that were touched by those two men, but thank you. Have to wear my heart on my sleeve kid, my pockets are always full!
Nice to see you kid.

Thomas said...


Speechless, except to say: Thank you for your writing.

So sorry you lost people whom you obviously loved.

Samantha Dugan said...

Speechless again? Well shit, maybe I ought to write that book everyone keeps telling me I ought to. I am honored and humbled by your comment, and the fact that you are thanking me?! Well that's just nuts. Thank you for always being here my dear friend. Love you.

Thomas said...


FYI: After having written five books and co-edited one, I cannot find an agent interested in a wine and food memoir.

That's not to say you shouldn't write a book. It is to say the challenge is not in the writing, and yours is good enough for a book. The challenge is in selling the thing to the publishing industry.

Writing has become a devalued art and craft--just read the Internet for exmples of that fact. Still, a writer must write, and you are indeed a writer.

Samantha Dugan said...


Well years ago Alice Feiring said she would pitch the idea for me but I am sure that offer is now off the table. I have considered it, if only for the act of pushing myself to do it, but I simply cannot imagine who would give an actual shit...ya know? Book, no book, I'm just happy to be here again....I need it, and you cats.

Thomas said...


Writing a polemic usually gets someone's attention. Just ask Alice ;)

Valerie said...

Sam, While it was good to be back in my Colorado home this morning with coffee & yoga pants and a new post from you, I was truly saddened to hear that you lost two friends at once. My sincere condolences and a virtual hug from across the state lines. This was a beautiful tribute and a reminder that maybe we all need to feel the moments sometimes as we'll never have them again. Also, an escape from all the ugliness in the world is essential in order to not be sucked into it. Honestly, this was one of my favorite pieces from you, as it's brought you back to us! Way to plunge back in and hope you come back to this space for solace. xx

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks so much for the hug, the reading and the understanding. Sending hugs back your way and I too hope I'm back. I need to get my head, heart and flesh back in the game!