Four Score (no); Seven Years (yes)

Hello from 35,000 feet,

I am headed to Placerville and probably over Nebraska somewhere as I compose this post. It was seven years ago I spent my first real time in El Dorado County. It was the point where I fell in love with the art of enology and with what happens in the winery in general. Much like a déjà vu sort of moment, as I am flying to Placerville again (I actually drove there that first summer) there are so many things I can imagine because of past experiences. Fernando is still there and has become a winemaker, one worthy in his own stead. He has grown and changed significantly. Victor, Cheryl, and Isabella, consists now of Victor and an amazing young woman in Isabella. If I am not mistaken, Cheryl,who was really my initial contact to the winery, has been banished. Marco, who seemed destined for a life of bachelorhood, though Belinda was at least a known entity, is now married to her, and they have two beautiful children. Tara, who flew out to visit me, has moved from Menomonie to Hayward and has a child of her own. I no longer live in Wisconsin and am beginning a sixth year in Pennsylvania. I am bringing my two surrogate children (they are actually adults) and they were just moving to Hazleton from New York. At that point none of us ever anticipated our lives would be where they are, let alone even know each other. Last weekend as I began to plan this trip, a person I met that summer, and one with whom I was quite taken, sort of reappeared by text message out of no where. What amazed me about that was feelings, which I had imagined to be long since gone, resurfaced. However, in spite of the emotions, what I read in her text messages, I can see that little in her life has actually changed. I think she is all the way down in Sac now, which means they have moved numerous times, but the situation with Taud and her is really no different. I remember beating myself up back then, and still wanting to believe I took the moral high ground. What I would do? Should I meet her would it merely be torturous and that serves no good purpose.

What I know is I am a bit wiser and not as fragile as I was at that point in my life. It is interesting for me to ponder what makes me less fragile. I think there are two things. First, ironically, I think it is what I went through in my relationship with a former dean and knowing I had to stand up for myself. That happened two years after that summer. The second thing is actually through observation and learning to listen. One person in particular, through text and conversation has done more to help me realize my worth more than anyone or any single event- What I realized as I remembered things, there are only two people for whom I have written a poem: one is with me and the other is texting me – the manner in which that counsel has pushed me to see bigger picture and understand the power we have within ourselves has really transformed my life. I realized some of that in the course of a conversation I was part of last weekend (in fact, three conversations) I responded in those conversations much differently than I would have a few short months ago. In this situation of comparing now to seven years ago, I was told, “it is a test.” But what exactly is the test? To not see her and completely ignore the contact or it the test to be able to see her, listen and speak the truth if I honestly see no changes? Is this very conversation merely a justification on my part? It is a tug-o-war between thoughts and emotions. I know what I feel in my heart. I wish I could get to that first blog from that summer. So much of what I thought about that summer and how I felt like a teenage boy with a crush was a significant part of my writing. I remember the day I left here, driving back with Tara and speaking on the phone with Ann (that is her name) and I cried as I said good bye. It was probably the most I had ever fallen for someone. I feel like I am writing true confessions or something.

What I am realizing is that seldom does someone come along that anyone might find himself or herself so entirely enamored with or over. While I must admit to taking some razzing today, as I noted the feeling I had long ago buried are still present and even seven years time has done little as far as changing them. It is so much easier to just focus on other things, but in other ways that is merely running away. So what was it or is it ( she did send a couple of pictures) that makes her so attractive? It is a combination of her physical beauty and a gentleness in her spirit I think. It is a vulnerability that she has, not in a simple way, in fact, just the opposite. It is a playfulness about her that I remember. I still remember clearly the first day she spoke to me in that Starbucks, where I spent so much time that summer. I remember someone in Wisconsin I spoke with and had been spending some time with told me they could see clearly how I felt. I remember that I was totally blindsided by such a situation. . . .

It is now early Thursday morning and it has been a whirlwind two days. Wine tasting, a wine lesson (actually a lesson on enology) , a dinner with Marco, Belinda and the children, and then a trip to Tahoe and the renting of a boat. Dinner at the little restaurant in Somerset and a second day. In the process, there have been texts and chats with Ann and it appears we will have a chance to meet later today. While I am excited to do so, the conversations and texts have clearly demonstrated that she is quite a bit more fragile than she was seven years ago. The inability to make the change she needs is apparent and the reasons for that inability are complex. What is different about me is that in spite of the feelings that I realize are present even now, I am no longer willing to try to take care of someone. I might want to give care, but I am not sure I would even go that far. I have enough on my plate now. It is that propensity for giving too much that has too often created both hurt and trouble for me. It is good to see a change in that pattern. I know I will still be amazed by the beauty I know is there in spite of the struggles, but this past 7 or 8 months has taught me a great deal.

I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the summer is gone. While I did not accomplish all I had hoped, I accomplished some much more significant. I took better care of myself. I fought fevers, pneumonia, and a serious cough most of the summer, but I continued to battle those things and other health issues and I am making progress. It is slow progress, but it is progress nonetheless. I also had people near and dear to me travel to Pennsylvania to spend time with me and those visits mean more to me than words will ever express. From California to North Carolina and in between. I had a house guest of sorts, more accurately, I had a “daughter” living at home. What an amazing experience for me as a first- time parent. Thank you for being there, Melissa. What a wonderful thing to share with you and to be part of the Galán family. While I stayed close to home almost all summer, a trip to NYC, then a trip to the Dominican Republic, and then back to California in the last two and a half weeks has made for a unforgettable summer. Well, I will try to post once more before I return to PA. Today it is to Sacramento and a chance for Melissa and Jordan to do some shopping. It is a chance for me to speak with Ann. The evening will be a dinner event with Marco and Belinda. Tomorrow I think will be some walking in the vineyards and a bit more tasting, followed by a cookout at Cantiga. I need to contact them today. While it is only 2:47 a.m., as usual I am awake and thinking. Two days and back on the plane. In the meanwhile, time to continue enjoying this experience. As I was looking at the calendar, I realized it is my first wife’s birthday today . . . amazing what is stored in my head.

Thanks for reading,

Michael

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