Thursday, February 22, 2007


I wanted to throw up.

We had just walked out of the lawyer’s office. The four of us had raced to the car in the pouring rain. My two eight-year-old sons sat in the back, and my wife Dominique sat in the front. I held onto the steering wheel for dear life.

We had done it. We had just bought a second house—an old farm, which hadn’t been an actual working day-to-day farm in more than a score of years. I had been talking about doing it for almost twenty years, and now here I was.

I had spent a lot more than I had planned. I had not got what I wanted, and now I was faced with the proposition of refurbishing a house and a farm.

I had been talking about starting my own small winery for much of my adult life. And now, after many years, I had foolishly convinced my wife that we should take most of our cash, which we had been saving, and buy this farm and start a winery.

How arrogant and foolish was I being? I’d made wine before on a small scale, but this was insane. I was nervous—hell, I was nauseous.

"Why aren’t you starting the car?" Dominique asked me. "Carlo?"

I gripped the wheel. My knuckles were white. It’s going to be all right, I told myself. Calm down.

"Okay, okay," I said to her.

Don’t throw up, I said to myself.

I had dragged my wife into it. Like one of my eight-year-old sons, I had pestered her for years. Dragged her to old dairy farms in Pennsylvania, old barns in upstate New York, and empty lots in New Jersey. And even as late as the last few months, I had dragged her to dozens of spots in Columbia County, New York. Several deals for parcels of land had fallen through. It was like God had sent me several messages, and I was too blind to see them.

Together, we had both worked hard, me working a job during the day, and writing a book at night, and hoarding the money—to one day buy a farm.

How stupid was I? Like we didn’t have enough issues as a regular family? Raising two sons and three dogs? My work and my writing hadn’t provided us with enough challenges?
And I had wanted to build a new home. Instead, my wife had talked me into an old house—with character. Whenever anyone tells you an old house has character, that means you’ll need an extra $20,000 to fix everything that’s wrong with it.

We had gone from a house built during the second Grover Cleveland administration, our first home in Freehold, to one built during the first Cleveland administration, also in Freehold.
I was tired of leaky roofs, chipping plaster, old weak doors and antique knobs. I had wanted to build a new house, with a lavish kitchen and a nice spacious bathroom.

Instead, I now had a house that had been built during the first Washington administration—George Washington’s first term! The joists under the first floor were actually logs with the bark still on them!

We had been there in the morning. Done the walk through, and I had been fine. Happy, even. The kids raced through the house. The realtor spoke with gusto, and I laughed heartily with him.

And now I was in full-blown firestorm of an anxiety attack.

But writing the checks for this little farm had brought the reality of it home. I had put our life savings on this house. I had convinced my wife and family that this was it. That I could do it. That we could do it.

We could take this old farm and farm house, and make a go of it as a working winery.
What had I done? I wanted to race back in and get my money back. I had just spent the nest egg. We were broke. There was no room to be cocky anymore. We were broke and I would be up to my neck in repairs and renovations. And on top of it, I was supposed to make wine. I was going to start a winery. Who in the world was I to start a winery?

"Carlo! Start the car! The kids are hungry and I’m cold!" Dominique demanded.

"Yeah, yeah," I grunted and put the key in the ignition.

"Are you okay?"

I thought for a second that I might tell her the truth, that I was petrified. That I wanted to run back into the lawyer’s office and tell them it was all a terrible mistake. A joke in fact. And couldn’t we just rip up all the papers and the checks, and go back to our normal lives?

I took one look at my wife and knew that wasn’t a good idea. That would be a massive mistake. I took a deep breath. I put the car in gear, turned on the window wipers, and the car lurched forward.

And that was the beginning.


Blogger underestimated1 said...

A home is not what it is made of, but who lives in it. You should always follow your dream you have a huge heart and and family that stands beside you. I am sure they look at it all now and say my dad was pretty smart to make this move and follow his dreams, hope they have the same passion for their dreams as you do.

9:29 PM  

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