I always wanted to work in Toronto, and for a short period of
time, I did. During university I spent 3 months interning at Elite Model
Management. So galm eh? …ahhhhhh not so much. The allure of the city
quickly wore off and I was left hating the commute, rush hour traffic, not
knowing my way around the city and lonely lunches at the nearest Tim Hortons where I’d sit and observe a melting
pot of culture and wonder why I had been so eager to “make it” in the
big city. Even though my days as an intern were long gone and my love affair
with Toronto quickly fizzled, there has always been something about the city which I’m drawn to, and still the same things I could do
without. On this particular day in Toronto, I had pretty much had it.
Frustrating traffic, one way streets, delivering wine, finding
parking and where the heck are loading docks in the city??? I could tell you
where, but I’ll save that for another time. So as the sun started
to set, I finally felt tension subside, but little did I know, my day was far from over.
I received a phone call asking if I could taste some Port with Dr.
Michael Vaughan. Michael Vaughan?? Me? Now? At his
home? What? Yes, those were my thoughts exactly. So, I put yet another
destination in my GPS, and after almost running out of gas, and temporarily losing my cell phone, there I was parked outside the home of one
of Canada’s most renowned wine writers. I reluctantly walked to the front door
and when no one answered, breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe he wasn’t home, maybe I was off the hook, but this was not the case. A young man answered the door and led me inside a marvelous home
overflowing with paintings, artifacts, and countless empty wine bottles. As I sat on
the couch, soon walked in the man of the hour, Dr. Michael Vaughan. My first
impression was that this man is vibrating on a higher frequency than the rest
of us, he had an energy that filled every corner of the room.
I was left to enjoy honey,
gingered tea with his wife (a graphic designer) as he quickly stepped out to run an errand. We spoke about life,
career, direction, and I started to realize this was going to be a much
larger experience than I had expected. She was someone who caries a
conversation with ease, and with as much interest in what your saying as she
has in her own story.
Michael soon returned with a bag of yellow peppers (a side dish for dinner), and within seconds I was offered an
invitation to stay. My default reply is usually “No thank you” but something spoke up inside me. It’s not everyday you get to have
dinner with a wine writer in his home, and if my time with his
wife was any indication of the conversation to follow, how could I refuse?
As they prepared dinner I could see this pair had more charm and
charisma in the pinkies than most dream of having. They had an electric chemistry.
The two of them would lovingly joke with each other, as they maneuvered around the kitchen, switching sides, slicing and dicing and I
couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a movie. That, or someone needs to
pitch the FOOD Network with what could be their next hit show. I asked if they
entertain often and they both quickly replied “No!…we entertain each
other enough”. This was apparent. I offered to help with dinner, but
they insisted I sit and enjoy a glass of Italian Chardonnay. As smells of cardamom,
ginger and garlic filled the air I thought to myself ” I’m glad
I said yes”.
I finally got to pitch in and set the dining room table. I
walked into a dark room with art upon the walls, heavy, and cluttered but in a
good kind of why. I placed large white plates upon an over sized needle point
table cloth. It clearly showed signs of wear and tear, holes, and broken
threads . As I placed each setting down, I couldn’t help but think of the wine
and conversations that must have floated across that table top.
My friend Nikki once commented on how much she loved talking to
people that close their eyes while they spoke; almost as if sorting through
their own personal filing cabinet of knowledge and experience, and trying to
find perfect words to piece together. Michael was one of those ‘close
your eyes while you talk’ kinda people. Sorting through his own files of
wine and life insight. It was a dinner, which satisfied hunger not just
physically, but mentally and spiritually. There were nuggets of wisdom thrown
around which I tried to gather, like picking up seashells along a beach. Before
I knew it, it was almost 10 pm, and I knew I had best be on my way. I helped clean
up, while Michael tasted the port (the sole reason I came). Good news was, he loved it, great news was, I left smiling from the inside out. Lesson learned: never say no to an invitation to dinner.