Tuesday, February 1, 2011

You Can't Go Home Again

I tried to keep up with this blog but found it difficult to justify yet more time in front of a computer after twelve+ hour days out selling wine and preparing presentations for the next. Couple that with a general distaste for shilling my own product in an environment such as this and, viola, no posts in almost a year. I hold an even greater distaste for promoting the competition.
I've been writing...working on my book, which further drew my attention away from this venue. Even if very few actually read it, I like the outlet.
I've had it with outside sales and am hungering for another opportunity in which to invest my efforts. I left my most recent gig in September and have turned down other options for route sales of wine.
My passion for teaching and talking to people about wine remains strong, but there are too many jaded buyers, way too many other salespeople and I was turning into the bitter salesman I used to chortle about. It's just not as much fun as it used to be. (A friend helpfully pointed out that it may be me, as I'm not as wild and entertaining as I was 15 years ago either).
While rereading and editing a section of my book the other day, I stumbled across an update on the store where I used to work. It described the building and the sign, still swinging in the breeze. Last fall the company chose to demolish the building and plans to resurrect a new, improved version of the store on the same site. I missed the actual destruction and a last chance to share a glass of wine either in the building or near it with friends and colleagues because I put the reminder in my Blackberry on the wrong date (and they call it a Smart phone). I cruised by a few days ago and was unprepared for what awaited me.
An entire side of a city block, plus a few "doors" on other blocks gone, vanished. Struck dumb, I quickly turned left before actually passing the store's previous location. The lump in my throat took quite some time to diminish and I felt strangely hollow the rest of the day. The store closed years ago and I had driven by regularly to see, from the outside all appeared ready for business. The sign needed to be re-affixed on one side but the concrete showed no ill-effects; even the mural of various employees and family members still looked good. I stopped noticing the "ring around the city" high water mark years ago.
Not only did I spend six years in that building launching a career that rewarded for years after that, but some of those missing buildings housed employees from time to time. The chef lived in one for a while; he's still with the company. Thelma, the security guard, lived in the one immediately adjacent to the parking lot. I wonder what ever became of her? At least one driver for the wholesale side of the company lived in one as well. All gone now.
I'll need to drive by again then get out and walk around. The ghosts of Katrina continue to haunt this city and they always will. Specters from our past rise up at unexpected times and remind us we're vulnerable. Walking those old grounds will help ease the tension I've been feeling. Perhaps I'll pretend to respond to a page or go to the deli's footprint and order some of the fries I loved so much or even step in the back like I once did, for a quick breath from the sometimes wild atmosphere.
Thomas Wolfe was right, "you can't go home to your family, back home to your childhood...back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame." Should you even try?
I plan to make this a New Orleans-centric blog about wines available in town, interesting tastings (way too few of these lately) and some stories from my time in the business. What's next? I have no idea, but I'm working on it.
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." - Seneca

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