SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMESAT THE HUDSON-CHATHAM WINERY
I was exhausted. We had the usual Farmers Markets on Friday and Saturday as well as the Saturday event at the winery, the Psychic Fair. We also had a tasting at Damiani Gallery in Hudson, NY, and a table promoting our winery at Olana. Our entire team really extended themselves this weekend.
Laura and Allison had worked all day in the tastingroom Sunday. Laura had also really worked hard Saturday with Norma and Danni, and Dominique and I, to make the weekend a success.
Now, I was returning from taking my sons to the Morris Center soccer league, where I had watched them play an entire game for the first time this season. The air was cool, the trees were on fire with fall, and the sky was bright blue, just before the sun began its descent.
Upon my return home, my wife told me there was a couple in the winery who insisted on meeting me. I was exhausted and tired. The last thing on a Sunday night was to meet new people. I just wanted to crash on the couch in the den until dinner time.
Instead I got the shock of my life. There, sitting in one of the white wicker chairs in the tasting room, was Joe Federico. I hadn't seen Joe Federico since high school. I laughed out loud. There was a time when we were very rarely seen apart back in the day.
All I had to do was see his profile, I knew immediately who it was. We had lost touch over the years, as happens to people. But seeing him was like the past rising over me like a swell in the ocean.
We sipped wine, and laughed. He and his wife, Marianne Buckley were coming back from a vacation in New England, and decided to make a detour and surprise me. By Joe's count, we hadn't seen each other in 27 years! Was it possible? He had found be through the winery, by following this blog.
We talked about old times. Our summer job painting classrooms at our old school. We also painted the old gym one summer. (What were we thinking? Hanging off of rafters and scaffolds like chimpanzees....for peanuts). Revamping the old year book office so nicely with our own sweat and blood, that the teachers took it over the year after we graduated as the new teacher's lounge. Driving through snow drifts with our old cars (I had a 63 Chevy Belair; he a 1963 Ford Falcon).
The most penetrating memory I had of Joe was when we were 17 years old. We were bored one night, and missed a late show of movie late in our senior year. We drove up to New Brunswick to see a show, and were too late, so we just kept driving. We discovered White Castle for the first time as we drove up Route 1. We just kept going and decided we would go, without telling our parents, to New York City. It was a grand adventure.
We assumed we'd sneak into a couple of bars. Maybe pick up some city chicks. We were so green. We knew nothing of the city. We decided that all the night life must be around the World Trade Center. When we got there at 12:30 at night, the streets of the old downtown, near Wall Street, were dead. Empty. Vacant. But there were the Towers. We parked and walked around the old Plaza, the old fountain and globe, and then laid down on the ground, and looked straight up at the stars, all while lying right between the two massive Towers. The stars seemed like they were hung on strings between the two white pillars. The view was breathtaking.
We never did find any hot action that night, as we thought we would, but many years later, when the Towers fell, he and I were both thinking the same thing - we remembered that silly ride and the breath-taking moment we looked up between those two incredible towers, and saw the stars.
And now here he was, in our tastingroom. And it seemed as if time hadn't skipped a beat. As wine often does, it smoothed the transition from past to present, and helped make stories funnier, talk easier. The hours past like minutes. They had to go home. I wished he could have stayed at least a whole other day. It was good to see my long, lost friend.
Thanks Joe for stopping by. And no, it won't be another 27 years.