novel excerpt.. this morning’s session

“Deadlines,” I say to myself, “Deadlines, Mikey.” I watch the people walk into the tasting room, thoughtless, careless and eager. I welcome them, the whole time thinking about how I’m going to use one line ‘Moveable Feast’ for a lecture on Tuesday, one of the last of the semester. “…belongs to me…” But I couldn’t think too much about it, I had to focus on these people waking in and how they looked around, excited and curious, some seemingly intimidated. They, group of 8, approach the bar. I put out four menus, then glasses, ask them if they’ve ever been here before and what we pour.. “Oh, I LOVE Pinot,” one lady says. I tell her she’ll love our bottles, start them with the Chardonnay, watch them sip, and right off the bat one of them asks me how long I’ve worked at the winery. “Not long, actually, just over a month,” I say. Then one of them, an older man asks why so many in the wine industry move around from TR to TR. I tell him I don’t know and I’m “only doing this part-time”, so he doesn’t think I’m caught up in that herd, their indecisive migration. So obviously, I notice, I’m insecure. But I’ll use this to build, build what I want with everything, then the next pour, a Pinot, blend of RRV and Santa Barbara-ish fruit.
“Yeah, that’s what a Pinot should be, definitely,” a young girls says, swirling, looking, sipping, smelling again.
“Yeah, it’s nice,” an older man to her right, more than likely her father says. I can tell he’s not thinking about it too much. And why should he, or anyone, it’s only a couple minutes after 11.
Larry walks around the bar, up to my right side, lean, “I’m gonna go check the back bar, you okay?” he says. I nod, he leaves.
“You guys expecting a busy day?” another man in the group poses. I shrug before being accosted with another question about my work history, as if what did I do wrong in life to be stuck behind a bar, that’s what the question intoned, or how I interpreted… ‘belongs to me, belongs to me…this moment belongs to me and these people belong to the building, the vision, the Newness of this idea I’m Crafting, construction.. I’ll tell people form now on I’m in construction, that’d be funny, and accurate and honest, ‘cause I am. Now.
“We’re gonna go outside and hang by the fountain for a little bit, we’ll be right back,” the calm man says. They follow, and I’m alone. So I build on the word ‘belong’.. “Ownership,” I write, then “control” and “possession”. “The writing that shows this ownership and control exudes an admirable power on page, and ads to its transcendence, the immunity to Time, and an irresistible sense of locale and character….” I watch the group outside, must be a family trip, and yes all are related, I then imagine that the tasting room is mine, or my characters, and how she’d react if she were in here by herself.. she’d love to see her bottles tasted and sold, but people walking through the door alone would gratify her, give her promise and that sense of ‘belonging’.. then I play with the word again, “Belonging,” I write, “as in a sense of calling, purpose, kinship and intimacy.” This empty room belonging to me, I give myself a new deadline, have a beaming thought for Tuesday before they come back in. They look comfortable sitting on that ledge by the water, just watching the upspurt, so I scribble more, I tell myself ‘I will take this thought to class and then on the Road’. I’ll devour this moment, consume it as if it were an appetizer at ‘Billie’s Oeno Go’, the favored wine bar downtown, I think Fourth Street. The glasses, just in front of me, empty, under the counter, who will sip from that one, and that one, I stop scribbling and just look around, like one of them. And I pretend I’m one of them, like I’ve never been to Livermore wine country and like I know nothing about wine, that I don’t think of making my own wine and like–
“That’s beautiful out there,” the man says.
“Yeah, it’s pretty relaxing,” I say, putting my notebook in my back pocket.
“Wine notes?” he says, looking outside noticing that the family’s very much stationed by the water. “They love it out there, oh well, they’ll be in in a minute.”
“You ready for the other Pinot?” I say.
“Yeah.. that one you just poured was great.. I love Pinot.”
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah.. that’s all I order when I go out to dinner.”
I pour the next one, from Monterey, and I think how he has a sense of belonging with Pinot– and yes I know I’m over-thinking this, ‘reaching’, but I want to, and like I tell my students, especially the 1B’s, “that’s when you discover something.”
“This one seems a little richer, is that right?”
“Yeah, it’s kind of rich, definitely more oak,” I offer, hoping I don’t influence his sip.
“Yeah.. yeah.. there’s more oak, definitely,” he says. I write down his words, and think he’s trying to communicate something with me, I don’t know what, but he’s sharing his love of wine and the winery and this moment speaking with me, and he doesn’t care if the others come into the room, in fact he’d probably rather they all stay out there; his wife, the others his age and the 20-somethings. He looks at the glass, and I write something down, “Observation.. can we just observe and not think too hard?” Which many wine people love to do, especially those who want to be seen as experts. “Can you pour me a little more, I think I tasted some cinnamon.”
“Yeah.. I get cinnamon from this one, too,” I say, feeling a belonging to this moment and this dialogue with the man. I pour, benevolently. He smiles, smells, sips.. “Yeah, definitely, cinnamon. I’m gonna go out there and make sure they haven’t drowned, be right back..”
As he walks outside to his family, I rush to the back, ignite the espresso machine, “café au lait,” I think, just like Hem.. I heat the milk, make two shots of espresso– push the door open, they’re still out there, back to my mix.. done.. behind the counter, writing again, noting what I can for Tuesday.