It’s been way too long and welcome to Hans Solo Valentine’s Weekend in Napa

Solo Valentine’s Day Trip to Napa

Day 1: I’m at LAX waiting for my flight to Napa for the Boissett Ambassador’s Retreat. By myself! It’s kindof a Big Deal. First, I’m taking a plane. I doubt that I have flown on a plane more than a dozen times in my 63 years. Second, it is the second trip of my life by myself to an unfamiliar destination. 

I know this is no biggy to most younger, business women. You do it all the time. You probably don’t get anxious. You probably don’t arrive two hours ahead of time like the airlines suggest. You probably have TSA pre-check and don’t have to take off your shoes or wait in a line. All this makes me a little anxious. Makes me feel out of place. Makes me feel not like myself. 

So I am pretending to be you. The young, talented, beautiful woman seated across from me reading text messages and catching up on TMZ. 

I’m wearing my Target “leather” coat, my sparkly Michael Jackson shoes and have my fake patent leather red suitcase with me, and my brown San Diego I’m-On-An-Adventure-Hat. I don’t fit in. I don’t stand out. I’m here, with everyone else. No one seems to care or know that I’m way out of my comfort zone.

Everyone is cool.

This weekend, I’m a reporter. I’m curious. I’m paying attention. I’m recording, thinking—and growing. And honestly, I’m grateful that I am well enough, have a credit card that I will eventually pay off, and have absolutely no other agenda except to be open. 

I’m flying to Oakland, will rent a car (only the second time I have ever done this by myself), and will spend a couple of hours driving to Napa where I will arrive at an AirBnB house and live with strangers for the next four days. I will go wine tasting in fancy places and try to fit in, and then realize after a couple of drinks, that I don’t have to fit in. I just need to be myself. 

To be continued…

Day 2:

I’m here in Napa, in a giant five-bedroom house. It’s quiet since everyone, who’s here for the wine retreat, are off learning about managing people like me. Thus, I have some time to myself in this spacious home 12 minutes from the luxury hotel where the conference is, to take my time, think and reflect.

No. 1: I like having time to compose myself. 

No. 2: Whenever I have quiet time I think how much Bevie and Wendy, my two amigos, would LOVE being here. It never seems the same without them. I figure this trip is my expedition, my scouting trip for the next time we come up here. Which we definitely will. 

No. 3: I am DOING THIS! I made it. I found the house in the dark, after a LONG day at work. I stopped to get groceries and had a half a bottle of Chalk Hill red blend, some aged Gouda and Safeway bread. I turned on season 4 of “Better Call Saul” and, honestly, enjoyed my world immensely. 

In a short time I will be on my way to Raymond Vineyards for a trip to the Crystal Room and a solo wine tasting. It’s Valentine’s Day and I guess I could feel like a loser. And maybe I do just a little bit. But not because I necessarily want to be with someone romantically. That circus has been shut down a long time. Really, it’s because of what I said earlier: It’s fun sharing experiences with people I love. 

No. 4: As I enter this new chapter of my life, not hanging out with my ex as much, I need to embrace this Hans Solo life. This is my new beginning. I have never had to work things out as a single person. Not really. My entire adult life I’ve had people around me to rely upon. This weekend, it’s all about me and what I’ll do in this new phase. Not worrying about anyone else. Just letting go and seeing what God has in store for me. Let the adventure begin!

Postscript: So it turned out OK. I made it through a Valentine’s Day without feeling like a loveless loser. No, there were no romances or prospects of a possible relationship. I did talk it up quite a bit with The Count at Buena Vista, but I end ronight feeling full. Not with wine or food, but of new experiences and insights.

I haven’t bought the Koolaid entirely; it’s unlikely I am ever going to be a sales person for anything. But I do LOVE this wine. And I do LOVE talking about it and sharing it. And I do realize no matter what I do that I need to be me. Which I’m still figuring it out. I’m processing. I like wine. I like talking to people. I like learning about wine. I like listening to, and telling stories. And I’m figuring out mine.

Be mine, the ol’ slogan on those cheap sugary candies. I don’t think they mean allowing yourself to be someone else’s property. Be mine means to thine own self be true. That numb feeling I’ve had for a while, is starting to subside.I’m starting to feel like my old, curious Han Solo the warrior self.

Day 3:

I am sitting on the ridiculously squeaky bed trying to mind my own business and be quiet while the rest in the household (six others, I believe, although I’ve never seen everyone together and have almost no idea who my housemates are) prepare for the final day of the retreat. 

Being honest, there’s definitely a Cheerleaders for Boisset Wines Team element to this retreat. Lots of leopard, bling and halleluiahs in the room. I am part of the bobble head congregation. I almost became a wine collector–$500 to join and about $3,500 in 24 bottles of wine—if I had been a little more intoxicated I would have. Fortunately I remembered my reality: I am a single, nearing retirement woman who enjoys nature and all things not blingy. I have to remain open and manage my enthusiasm. 

Which brings me to something pretty exciting: our head wine honcho, as in the owner of a wine empire, is excited about my podcast idea, “We’re Here for the Potluck”. I explained my vision and he was sincerely digging it. Even last night the marketing director asked me for my card. This is promising. A fantastic partnership. THIS is the reason I’m here…to get juiced up about life and my role in All Things Possible. Wine is the entry key. The rest, is up to God, me, and the universe. 

Day 4:

I am pretty sure for the last few days I have been a character actor in, “Invasion of the Wine Zombies”. It has been a really interesting few days. In most ways, it was like a typical convention. Panels. Sales-pump-up-messaging. Swag. Incentives, like big trips to Europe for top sales-earners, and purses and elite bottles of wine for attendees who show up on time. The celebrity, the head of the company, kept making appearance thrilling both genders. He is a special human, an artist.

I’ve been paying attention to how he treats attendees. He is incredibly charming, genuine and positive. He makes people want to be better. 

He has a familiar line/attitude/approach—that anything is possible. 

I’ve decided to steal that. 

I used to believe that, then life grabbed me by the wrist and dragged me in a direction that wasn’t necessarily my first choice. Don’t get me wrong: I am happy. Very happy. I have the privilege of having a home and family and I have a fulfilling job as a teacher. But most of the decisions I made were based on bad decisions I made in the past and my life became a series of adaptations. Again, it all works out as it’s supposed to, but this next chapter beckons me to grab the steering wheel and seize control. 

I’m going to think long and hard about my Hans Solo Weekend and what it means to my soul. Being open is a good thing. I did something way out of my comfort zone. A quarter of the time I was worried or thinking about What’s Next? and What Do I Need to Prepare? I guess that’s normal. What I need to practice is the art of being in the moment. Like right now.

I’m on Southwest Airlines bound for home. I’m flying along Highway 1 and will soon pass Paso Robles. It’s hazy and spring green and the Pacific Ocean is just beyond the mountain ridge. The plane engines roar and my shoulders begin to tense up. Relax. Relax. The peace that passes all understanding flows through me.    

Soaring above, between and below the misty clouds, I feel God’s presence. A new life is beginning. Burgundy, navy, turquoise and forest green. Life IZ good and it’s about to get even better!

Raymond Vineyards Tasting Room in Rutherford, Napa CA. Yes, I could get used to their District Collection—cue in Celine Dion’s version of “All By Myself”.
Outrageously flamboyant and fun! (Raymond Vineyards: The Crystal Lounge)

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