I wake up and walk out in the darkness.
The kitchen table still speaks of last night’s final conversation and libation.
Artwork gifted by my dear friend, Gina,
rests beside two crystal tulip-glasses
that held tawny port.
One month ago, I had never heard of tawny port.
Today, it is my favorite after dinner beverage.
The color of this particular bottle’s port is stunning.
You might describe it as reddish amber or golden burgundy.
The taste is smooth, fruity …. and woody.
It amazes me that
a wine can taste …. like a tree smells!
After years of sitting inside a wooden barrel,
it only makes sense that she takes on the aroma and flavor of her container.
It was a month ago that I received a request from another WarmShowers.org member
asking if he might stay with me. He only requested to pitch his tent in my yard for one night. But substantial rains on the next day, the Monday of his arrival, made me refuse to allow him to sleep in a tent. My home is tiny, but I made him a pallet on the floor of my extra bedroom and offered him dinner, a warm shower and time to dry out and rest.
Conversation quickly revealed that he had been riding since mid-February. He had ridden his bike from Sacramento, California to Augusta, Georgia with one goal in mind; to race in a USA Cycling National Championship race to be held at Fort Gordon Army Base. Of all of the homes in Augusta available, he requested to stay with me because I lived closest to the event site. He made good time crossing the US so he arrived a few weeks earlier than he expected.
And there I sat, across the table from this stranger
with clear, blue eyes
and tan, defined legs
listening to stories of Texas and New Zealand,
Australia and Lake Tahoe,
the Sierra Nevada mountain range and Alabama.
He had a week’s reservation at a local hotel for the week before the June 3rd race
and planned to possibly do some sightseeing
and couch surfing
while he trained and rested.
I offered that he stay still for a few days
while he figured out where he might want to visit
and how he might want to spend the next month.
Yes, I slept with my bedroom door locked,
and mace inside my pillow case,
my phone beside me on the bed
and a home-made contraption to LOUDLY alert me
if my bedroom door was opened in the night.
But, by the third night,
I didn’t feel the need to lock my bedroom door.
He’s been living beside me since May 1st and
this man has been a gentleman to me
With the race behind him,
in only two more days,
he will mount his bike
and begin the trek home.
He took a southern route to get here.
He’ll head north up the coast and then west across the states to return.
He plans to visit Niagara Falls on his way home.
This rough-around-the-edges stranger
has become a dear friend
to this intentionally-sheltered Southern girl.
No. I won’t be changing my Facebook relationship status.
No. I won’t turn down a date if someone else comes along.
And no. I won’t quickly forget all the ways that he enriched my life
in the thirty eight days that we shared meals, conversation and living space.
And yes, I will miss him dearly.
WarmShowers.org, tawny port and “Og” (his nickname given by a friend)
make me happy today. What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?