I had been hearing it in his voice; in the posts on facebook, the text messages and the occasional emails, my son was aching for a piece of home. His last visit home was the first time he flat out told me that he was not planning on staying in Louisville. He loved the school, the town and had made some of the closest friends he has ever had but….it just wasn’t home and he felt he needed to be closer to his family. So I guess it should have come as no big surprise when I spun around in the tiny footwear isle of Dick’s Sporting Goods and saw my son, my now 21 year old son running at me full speed, shoulders low and arms in his signature, “I’m gonna pick you up Ma” pose. I saw the flash of his big beautiful smile just seconds before his strong arms were constricting around my neck. Longest I have had my son in my arms since he was small enough for me to carry him. Trying my best to keep both of us from losing it I just whispered, “Well it’s about goddamn time”
As luck would have it we got there just in time for his dinner break so we were able to take him for a quick bite before checking into our hotel and on to my next blogger meeting. I had noticed a really nice looking sandwich on one of Tom’s facebook posts and seeing as I had not always had the best of luck with dining on my earlier visits to Louisville, (not that it was ever a mission or I really even looked that hard) I commented on the photo asking where he was eating. He sent me a message telling me that if I were coming to town he would like to meet for a glass of wine. Kind of threw me a bit as I didn’t even really think Tom, (Louisville Juice) really read my blog so I couldn’t imagine why he wanted to meet me but….hell I am always up for meeting new people, and of course a glass of wine so I wrote back telling him I would love to.
Dropped off our bags plugged in my laptop and sent Tom a message that I was in and running a few minutes late. He wrote back that it was not a problem and that he would wait at L & N Wine Bar and Bistro for me which as luck would have it was about ten minutes away from my hotel. Asked the hubby if he had gotten directions and after being assured that he had we were in the party van and on our way. Now it was less than two turns in before the hubby and his girlfriend were in yet another spat, shit. We arrived a bit late, me annoyed and the hubby still huffy at his woman but I was ready for a glass of wine and to meet yet another fellow wine blogger.
Tom was very gracious, direct and funny and set about making the snacks start flowing as he had another engagement in about an hour. We talked about blogging much more than Ben and Michael did which made sense seeing as he and I have never really “spoken” outside the occasional comment on facebook and the couple of times I commented on his blog after he posted a link to one of my um…..well one of my more saucy pieces. I felt instantly comfortable and it was really interesting to meet with someone that had very different ideas about wine blogging. He much more interested in linking to other pieces he likes and me content to just ramble alone in my little bubble. Great snacks, fun conversation and a couple of lovely little glasses of white wine….neither of which I can remember now, and we were saying goodbye and telling each other how we must do this again next time I am in town, Would love to and Thank you for the nibbles and chat Tom, had a great time.
Jeremy met us in the lobby of our hotel when he got off work and we hit up 4th Street Live, the kind of flashy “hotspot” or more touristy area of downtown to buy him his first legal drink…well with us anyway. He picked a Mexican themed bar first so the first drink was a margarita and a shot of Don Julio 1942, one of our favorites. I sat there clinking glasses with my baby, the man that will always be my baby and watched as he looked shocked at how delicious the tequila was. Guess it was a far cry from the tequila he would have been drinking had he been drinking underage. We walked out of the getting-louder-by-the-second cantina, the sweet almost vanilla ice cream like flavor of the Don Julio still clinging to my lips and sides of my mouth and headed to the next spot. The Makers Mark Lounge where we treated him to a Makers and Coke with a side of Pappy Van Winkle 15. Don’t think I have ever had a Bourbon so deep and inviting, reminded me of Kelt Cognac but with a little more caramel and sweetness and a creamier finish. We got caught up, laughed lots and made plans to meet for lunch the next day before picking up Amy & Sexy Bitch from the airport.
Spent the afternoon together laughing, Jeremy and I falling right back into our rhythm cracking on each other but especially picking on Call-o….he makes it easy at times and when he damn near choked on a wasabi pea at the swankiest bar in Louisville, (Seelbach Hilton) and spent like fifteen minutes coughing….well we didn’t have to say a word. We just looked from each other back at him and between coughs Call-o would squeeze out, “Would you two shut up”. Picked up Amy & Roger from there airport and headed right back to 4th Street, seemed a perfect fit for the group and that was where things like this happened…..
A quick stop off at Jeremy’s local bar….amazing all the regular spots the kid was able to find in the three days between when he turned twenty-one and our arrival, mad skills that kid and oh so committed. A couple of his friends met us there and a very cute little twenty-five year old girl bought us a shot just for being Jeremy’s parents….strange feeling that, taking shots with kids that think you are awesome parents. The act alone making you wonder how true that is.
Up early the next morning, slow moving but nothing too hateful, and on the road for the one hour drive out into Bourbon country. We arranged for a VIP tour of Buffalo Trace and I have to say if you are ever going to visit the area it is well worth the drive. Old, historic, amazingly friendly and with a dizzying array of truly fantastic Bourbons. We climbed the old rickety walkways, peaked into the giant fermentors, tasted White Dog Mash #1 which is the spirit before it is aged and becomes Bourbon…so um, moonshine and were treated to a tasting of Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and their special Buffalo Cream. We were treated wonderfully and learned more about Bourbon then I ever thought there was to know. Amazing visit.
Next thing I know we are sweating in Jeremy’s kitchen and a steady trickle of kids just kept coming through the door, the fridge being stuffed with beer, (Pabst of course) the freezer with booze and the crowd hovering in the kitchen growing by the minute. Once the food was on the table Jeremy made an announcement, asked his crowd to give Amy and I a round of applause…you can only imagine how much I loved that, and gave a quick speech about how much this night meant to him. I picked at my chicken scraps (wanted to make sure the kids got enough) and stood in awe of my sweet young man. Amy and I drank Domaine Dragon Rose with the meal, the soft round fruit a perfect partner to the garlicky meal. Sipped Azo Petit Chablis…one of our wines. Took long satisfying sips of a wine that feels like family…doughy, apple rich family that is and even took down a bottle of Michel Turgy Champagne which tasted full, sexy, weighty and just the thing to make me feel as if my heart may just burst wide open.
Had an amazing night, met some really fascinating kids that were bubbling with passion about politics, awareness, food and let’s not forget drinking. Sexy Bitch found out that he is no longer twenty-one and while he napped the kids taught me how to play beer pong. I love them for trying but this really is a stupid game. Guess I am just too damn old but I am not waiting for some dork to toss a plastic ball in a cup before I take a drink. I adored their patience and their wanting me to play with them but….no.
Left the kids to play, (was told the next day that we kind of wore them out….party ended not long after we left) dropped Amy and Sexy Bitch off at their hotel and found myself not sober but in no way drunk, snuggled into my bed feeling lit up and loved in a way only one person can make me…Jeremy, “about goddamn time”
Met Jeremy at his place in the morning where he made us all lunch before we got back on the road for the trek back to Nashville to catch our flight. I tried with all I had not to think about leaving, about not feeling those arms around me and the one thing that saved my ass…aside from the gin and tonic I made from the leftover freezer booze was knowing that he was coming home in just over a week. Our conversation shifted from the events of the evening before into talking about where he was thinking about attending grad school….another saving grace, closer to home. When we had used up each last second of time we had it was time to hit the road and I felt the knot in my throat growing. “I’ll walk you guys to the car” Jeremy announced and that was when I began swallowing really hard trying to dislodge the grapefruit that was growing in my throat. I cracked jokes, told him to think of things he wants to do when he comes home and as I was belting out my last little bit of camouflage the arms were once again constricting around my neck “I love you Da Momma” his voice a whisper with just a hint of a crack in it.
As I tossed my left leg in the party bus and leaned out to grab the handle I took one last look at the lean, tall frame of my once three pound tiny son, his back strong and straight with protruding shoulders and a deep groove running down the middle…walking back to the house where he lives but the place that is never going to really be home for him. He looked back at me his eyes full, watery, sad and wearing my…wearing our separation all over them. In all the years we have been doing this goodbye dance I have never seen that look before, never even seen him look back before. I let my eyes lock on his, gave him a wink and climbed in the car where Amy and I both lost our shit completely. Cried all the way to the Louisville airport where she and I held each other tight before she slipped behind the sliding door to board her flight to Dallas and we got back on the highway, off to the Nashville airport and on our way home……