Sunday, June 05, 2005



This week my second son Conall graduated from college, and is leaving for LA tomorrow; my oldest son Brendan left for good to open his bar in Prague, and then on to work at Mugarritz in San Sebastian; I lost my wallet; my cell phone inexplicably died with all records and fotos; and the water main sprang a huge leak and flooded the best part of our wine cellar; Conall’s newish Ford Tortoise that he was taking to LA blew up after 50 miles…..OK, Mr. Buddha…..I get it! I get it! Detach from things of this world!!

The kid separation thing is hard, but the multiple leavings of the last decade have prepped me. Brendan's girlfriend Chloe alone has had a dozen wrenching, tearful goodbyes in airports with Brendan, and she is only 17, and only been here for two years! Conall will be back…his job doesn’t actually PAY yet, you see.

My wallet, though. It was not the money that hurts. It is the mementos lost: My dead brother’s last business card, that I looked at every time I pulled out a credit card; a thousand lira note; two tickets to the Via del’ Amore (the footpath that runs in Cinqueterra from Vernazza to Corniglia that Caroline and I hiked. I could have saved one ticket separately…..but it takes two to walk the Path of Love, right? Apparently so……….

Also I lost my Rescue Diver’s Card… me out of a few speeding tickets, showing that one as I “fumbled” for my license…””Rescue Diver” in large print…..The best was at Oakland Stadium one time when I didn’t have my driver’s license….you have to have ID no matter how old and decrepit you may be. The beer lady demanded photo ID, and I showed her the Diver’s License. She said: “What the fuck is this?” “That is photo ID….that is my Diver’s License, birthdate, picture, everything……” “Diver’s License…..huh. How much beer you gonna drink?”

And the wallet itself was from Firenze in 2000….simpler, happier times. Clinton was still president, and the City was just opening up to us in that special way that the great cities do to those that may be worthy…….I had that wallet already in my pocket for the worst hangover of my life: Dinner and much wine and grappa at Aquamatta on November 6 2000……When I awoke George W. Bush was president. No amount of aspirin seems to help.

George Carlin, along with the Buddha, tells us to free our Selves from our Stuff….but these little things did not seem like burdens. They were more like buoys, or channel markers……acupuncture needles to restore the chi on a regular random basis. I guess the discipline is supposed to be there to do it on my own.

The wine cellar leak was a major bitch. On my only day off. The locals rallied quickly, though…..Amish barn-raising style. Dorn Coburn came right over to repair the leak. In true Cachagua style, he had no ¾ inch copper pipe….but he had a garden rake with a ¾ handle. His rake is now our water supply. He worked for two hours in the mud at 6pm on his day off….and asked for thirty dollars. City people take note. We gave him sixty and a bottle of ’79 Clos du Val cabernet.

Mike Coburn also came over, with milk crates and piles of clean rags. It was like chapel restoration in Venice. He brought his son Kenny, the Great White Hope of the new generation of Cachagua kids. Mike and Kenny worked with us for three hours in exchange for a fencing lesson for Kenny. And a half bottle of ’83 Mouton Baronne Phillipe (no girlfriend right now…hence the half bottle). I love Cachagua.

The always lurking Irony is that on the moment of Conall’s graduation from college, the leak was already spraying water all over the collection of wine I bought for him at his birth…….1982, no less. The soggy labels probably ran down his net worth by half….and the ultimate indignity: his first free moment with Dad before leaving for Sundance was spent covered in mud, lumping soggy fifty pound boxes of his inheritance out of the cellar. Welcome to Our World, College Man.

And Our World is………Well, it seems like now the Work is done: the kids are gone, the wine is wrecked, the mementos are just that. I have come through the experience clean….that is, with nothing to show for it personally but………I guess, who I am. The skills and values I have accumulated in the process of raising these boys……are my reward. Now….. can I be happy with that? Stay tuned…….


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