Wow. The roosters are really loud today.
I try my best to tip-toe through the room for clothes, find what I need to wash my face and put in contacts and get ready for the day.
I look at my watch. Oh good, Moosewood is just opening. I have her come with me to get coffee and some pastries for the others.
Had I understood what everyone meant by going to the river, I would have packed appropriately. We find the rockier parts of the beach and they try to skip rocks while I watch the water run. Yes, I need to be closer to water.
I try to fight away the pang of pre-departure sadness.
Filtered or unfiltered 2015 PInot Noir? We’ll take both.
Suitcase rosé of Syrah while we sit in these chairs for the last pre-dinner drink. I say something about wondering if I’m naive in thinking that I really can have a life that I don’t need to vacate. That I want travelling to be about experience and exploration, not escape.
I could eat this plum tart for the rest of my life.
I sit at her table and we talk about the ills of digital connectivity, privacy in the digital age, life-altering experiences, the definition of sanity. She starts every other story by telling me that’s she’s a private person, but “I’ll tell you this.” Her eyes sparkle in the candlelight. He asks me how old I think she is, I say she’s at least 80 but maybe older.
Another pang of pre-departure sadness.
1. Up before the light, listening to the sound of rain hitting terra cotta tiles on the patio.
2. I go to eat breakfast by myself. Coffee, orange juice, water, a chickpea, potato and kale scramble. Quiet. I can see the vineyards in the distance, bare, wet and dripping.
3. Downtown Santa Rosa to meet Adam for coffee at Flying Goat. I almost don’t recognize him with all of the hair. We sit and talk life and photography and freelancing.
4. Back at the ranch. So much time planning and talking and dreaming. I can’t wait to bring everyone here to sit by the pool, to warm by the fire, the drink in the sun, to make space to breathe.
5. We get tacos with Kevin before he heads back to San Francisco to go home. He tells me to stop underpricing myself. To keep playing with one light and a subject. To live with the confidence I speak to in my writing. Grateful for mentors like this.
6. We drive through Petaluma as we make our way toward Napa. There’s a little bar, Ernie’s Tin Bar, with cute chalkboard signs and a no cell phone policy.
7. Green hills as far as the eye can see. Trying to keep my vision pointed on gratitude.
8. A glass of Fumé Blanc upon arrival. There’s a new blanket at the foot of the bed.
9. The Charter Oak. Schramsberg and a long chat with the sommelier who also happens to be from Chicago as we wait for our friends. Wood and leather and copper and vintage rugs. Embers from the open flame. A drawer at the table loaded with silverware and a napkin. Sparkling water. Musacdet. Bordeaux blend. Mushrooms and salads and kohlrabi and duck and burgers.
10. Gratitude for this. For time spent in meaningful conversations. For good coffee and good wine and good food. For the privilege of comfort. For space. For beauty.
I don't want to claim the title "Lifestyle Blogger." It doesn't feel natural on my tongue. Instead, I'm going to call myself a "Collector of Beauty." Yes. A Collector of Beauty. This rephrasing gives me the space to do what I do best which is notice. Really, isn't that what a writer and a photographer should be doing? Noticing?
There's this really fine and faint line between capturing life and noticing it. One can become so consumed with trying to find what they should capture that they miss the real beauty of what's occurring around them. It's why I rarely photography my food before eating it. I want to eat my gnocchi with black truffle shavings while it's still hot. And I want to drink my rosé while it still has its chill. Instead of trying to find the highlights and shadows in the barrel room, I want to listen to her tell me about the fermentation experiments she's conducting. And when I meet her for coffee on Washington Street, instead of thinking about the Instagram-worthiness of the courtyard, I'd rather listen to her tell me about the one time the police got called while she was celebrating her birthday.
Ultimately, I do believe that it's my desire to be so fully present in my life that gives me the ability to see the truly extraordinary moments that exist in the every day. I have to somehow trust that the most important moments will find their way into the little crevices of memory for when I need them most. Because this life is really too good and too big for the viewfinder.
Alas, here are some of the moments that I collected during my most recent trip to Yountville in August.
1. He snuck into the bed sometime in the morning but before the first light. The babies are always babies.
2. Dreams of frogs all over the house.
3. Wash face. Brush teeth. Get dressed. Make the lunches and the snacks. Figure out which muffins to make. Back to school.
4. The backs of my eyes are stinging with tears again.
5. I am tired. I know it's the kind of tired you feel from stress.
6. It's so humid.
7. No one seemed to be happy when I picked them up from school. Maybe I'm projecting.
8. The backs of my eyes are stinging with tears again.
9. I yell at him about the laundry. I want to snap the stems with my thumbs. I can't see anything but white.
10. How he talks me down and away from the rage and honors the truth that this is all fear. That this is what you should feel when people want to kill you.
1. Waking up with the moon.
2. The bathroom tiles glow from the light. It's so quiet. These are always the quietest hours. I love the times when I'm the only one awake.
3. Pants and shirt and jacket. Don't forget the pin. The babysitter will be here in 5 minutes. She is always early.
4. Quickly to the store first. I need something to eat before I drink the coffee. We try to use the 1-hour and 29-minute ride into the city to review, but sit mostly in silence. You realize that you know all you can know at this moment and there's no use stressing yourself trying to add in just one more thing.
5. What I miss most about my old town is how much I walked to everything. This is what I like about city living: the fresh air, the movement of your body, the sites, and the sounds. And all that brick.
6. The four of them seem nice and friendly. The first two parts of the test are done. I feel much more relieved. Like, maybe this will happen after all.
7. Nothing I eat is staying in my body. I've had a headache since this morning. My stomach keeps cramping. I'm sweaty. It's mostly nerves, I'm sure. But I leave the service portion of the exam knowing that I drowned in those last 16 minutes.
8. I eat some croquettes, drink Pinot Grigio from Mt. Etna, and then top it off with a cone of caramel ice cream and a bombolini from Bombobar. Try to sip on an iced-coffee to soothe the headache.
9. He passes and I fail. Only 6 out of 18 passed. I am one of the 12 that did not. But I am a strong candidate. Each one of the Masters tell me to do it again. They are always so encouraging. I will try to take it again before the end of the year.
10. You can tell fall is coming by the quality of the light. It's taken on this honeyed hue in the late evening.