“Home again, home again.” Walla Walla Vintners Washington State Cuvee 2004

I used to travel the world — as much of it as I could, with little thought for how long I was away. With nothing to bind me to one geographical location save for a steady job, I suspect there were years in my late 20’s when I spent as many nights in other beds in other cities as I did in that of my home, then in Lincoln, Nebraska. I recall one summer: the day school got out I got on a flight to Washington D.C. where I worked for the next week or ten days. Then from D.C. I got on a flight to Brussels where I met up with friends and spent a few days before going to Munich. We then returned to Brussels, spent still more time while one of my best friends got married, then returned to Nebraska. I’d probably been gone three weeks and gave it not a second thought. And when I got home, I repacked my bags and took off for a few weeks in Rwanda shortly thereafter.

Today is so very different. Though even five years ago I would not have thought it possible, my wife and kids have somehow turned me in to something of a homebody. I’m desperately attached to them, and to the place I associate with them. So the past five nights, the first two of which were spent on our five-year anniversary trip, the latter three of which were spent with students in Washington D.C., was probably the longest I’ve been away from my kids since Zooey was born if not longer. I enjoyed the travel a great deal, but I missed my kids more, and when our plane landed at 6:30 last night, just an hour before bedtime in our household, I thanked the other chaperone for being the one to wait at the airport with students, and I rushed home to see my kids. Arriving at seven, that half hour was some of the best spent time I can recall.

I crept up the stairs to the play room and peeked my head around the corner. Zooey spied me first and got a huge grin on her drooling face, then started crawling rapidly towards me. Her movement alerted Titus, who yelled “Daddy!” and ran past her. I opened the gate to let myself in and just lay down on the ground, hugging them and being hugged. Zooey climbed me like a jungle gym, and I eventually made my way over to Sonja to give her a kiss. As much as I love travel, coming home has turned into the best part.

After the kids went to bed, Sonja and I shared a glass of wine and talked with our dear friend Carl, who had given me a ride from the airport and was staying with us. The conversation was delightful, largely about teaching and also Sonja’s work. Carl was quick to point out the overlap and I got some exciting new ideas. And while we talked, we sipped at this wine, which I bought on auction a while back.

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Briefly decanted for about fifteen minutes, the Walla Walla Vintners Washington State Cuvee from 2004 has held up nicely. On the nose, dark fruits are laced in a sort of candied element. Overpowering, almost eye-popping oak mellowed out quickly, revealing a still-bold yet more elegant flavor profile of persistent blackberry and currant, with subtle hints of anise and a sort of Rhone-y, meaty flavor. Dark, rich, and brooding, it has the structure to last, and paired nicely with great conversation. 14.3% ABV, this wine got better as the decant progressed, and got me excited about the various Cab Sauvs I have in the cellar from this wonderful little producer.

I have a lot of travel on the calendar this year. I’m heading to KC a few times, Seattle, Napa, Sarajevo, Istanbul, London, and possibly Delhi — all by the end of the summer. It’s the most travel I’ve had since the advent of my fatherhood. While I was in D.C., I sent videos home to the kids. I’d like to continue that, and also perhaps write letters or postcards from the more exotic places I travel to as well. Whatever I do, I want to remain an active father even from afar, and I’m already excited for the homecomings and getting to be a jungle gym for my kids each time.

Cheers to traveling — and to coming back home,

Mark

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