Sunday, January 20, 2019

Touring the Childress Vineyard in Lexington, NC


It was a chilly January afternoon and the car pulled into the nearest parking space available.

"It's packed," I said looking around the facility. There were a lot of cars here and it didn't take a genius to figure out that the Childress Vineyards in Lexington, NC was a very popular destination.

While still in the vehicle, I looked through the windshield at a large stone building sitting atop a hill that overlooked rows of dry grape vines. The lawn was a vibrant green color and looked to be well tended. When viewed against the deep blue sky and contrasting Earth tones found on the building, the imagery caused one to gaze warmly on the scenery.

As I waited for my girlfriend, La'Toya, to collect her things, there was a growing feeling of excitement brewing in my stomach. It was only a few moments ago that our intended destination was actually revealed to me. This was her payback for all the times that I took her out and failed to disclose our plans.

When I asked her how it felt to watch me squirm in anticipation, she responded with a huge smile that she was enjoying it very much. I'll admit that I did too.

In celebration of my 44th birthday, all she told me prior to our Saturday morning departure was that I should dress comfortably and be ready to leave by 10 am.

The two of us got out of the car, stretched our legs for a moment, and then slowly made our way toward the entrance of the building.

At first glance, I noticed a couple of people standing outside engaged in a quiet conversation. Each of them holding a glass of white wine in their hands while looking intently at one another.

The closer we got to the large wooden doors, the more I realized that there was a lot going on inside.


The foyer, just beyond the doors, was a large room with high ceilings and marble-colored tile floors. In the middle, directly in front of us, stood a circular fountain with four levels of pooling. There was a light trickle sound of water as it overflowed slowly from one level into the other. The larger bottom pool held a variety of stones and different denominations of coins. As we walked in, I saw an older black woman toss something shiny into the water and it resulted in a kerplunk sound with a small splash to follow.

The sound of voices filled the halls of this building and it was accompanied by dozens of moving bodies. As I scanned the faces of its guests, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the attendees did not consist wholly of one demographic. There were all age groups with different hues of skin tones. Some individuals were dressed in khaki's and a button-up shirt while others wore casual sporting attire.

Not having the pleasure of visiting many vineyards in my day, I incorrectly assumed that I would have seen only the bougie wine enthusiasts in attendance, of which I aspire to be a card holding member one day.

"Ahem! Please pass the Grey Poupon and a glass of your finest Malbec."

No, this adventure revealed to me that people from all walks of life can and do enjoy a good glass of wine, not just the richest elite.

According to La'Toya, we were scheduled for the 2 o'clock tour of the Childress Vineyards. She mentioned moments after we arrived that if we wanted to look around or get something to eat, we could always catch the 3 pm tour instead.

"No," I replied. "While it may be my birthday, I'm following your lead today. You're the Boss and I'll do whatever it is that you want me to do."

"Ummm!" She said with a smile. "Why does everything you say always sound so nasty?"

"It's because you have a dirty mind." I playfully shot back. I laughed quietly to myself knowing that I indeed meant that line as a flirtatious double entendre.

Looking around the room, I didn't see an official front desk. Instead, I saw a bar with frozen drinks directly behind the fountain, an empty conference room to the right of us through the tall rounded doors, and a shop to the left through another set of archways.

While we got our bearings straightened out, and I took a few pictures of the lobby, the two of us moved out of the main walkway toward the front left corner of the room where there hung a medium-sized mirror on the wall. I took the opportunity to double check my face and clothes for proper presentation while in public.

After our two-hour commute, I had to reassure myself that things were still put together and not too wrinkled or decorated with crumbs from our quick stop at Bojangles'. In case you were wondering, I had a spicy chicken sandwich with a nice golden crust. While I tried to be careful eating over napkins, it's still possible that I caught food somewhere.

Once I determined that things were good, I gently pulled Toya closer and said, "Hey, let's take a quick picture."

[Camera Click]



She's a natural!

After our photo shoot, La'Toya walked over to the wooden podium near the second entrance of the Tasting Room and wrote our names on the tour list.

For the next few minutes, the two of us stood near the bar area and took in the surroundings.


Further back, beyond the bar was the Bistro. If you listen to the employees, this place has the best food in the area. While we had 2:30 reservations, we didn't get the chance to try anything.


The highlight of this place appears to be the tasting room. A quick glance and you'll notice large groups of people huddled around the bar. A second group of people consisted of those waiting for the tour.


Around this time, a young man wearing a black dress shirt, black jeans, and black Keds walked over to the list of names on the podium and announced that the 2 o'clock tour would be leaving in just a moment. He led the small party to the front of the lobby and proceeded to small talk with us.

We learned that his name was Devin and the Vineyard was the brainchild of NASCAR racer and team owner, Richard Childress.

After the initial welcome, our tour guide, Devin, instructed us to walk through the front doors and hang a right down the wood covered walkway.


Along the cemented path were white pillars perched upon piles of stone. In between the pillars were tall dividing walls made of the same stone used for the pillars. In between the walls were black iron tables with cushioned chairs that overlooked the multiple rows of harvested grape vines. Honestly, with a tall glass of wine and some good company, these seats would be a perfect place to get lost.


Once we passed the chairs, the path opened up to give us an even better view of the vineyard. With each step that I took, I could feel the heavy burdens of the day simply melt away.

Continuing down the cemented walkway, we reached the far end of the building and its wooden covering.


Turning right, the path continued around the winery until it reached a fork in the road. Down the left path, there was a long building that was later described as a reception hall. Down the right path, there was a red-roofed gazebo standing tall near a small man-made pond.


While we waited for Devin to reach the front of the line, we took a few minutes to enjoy the view.

On the right side of the walkway lay a carpet of lush green grass. On top of the grass, there were a few more opportunities to sit down and relax.

One of my favorite seats included a tabletop firepit with cream colored chairs. Further down, I noticed a couple of black iron tables with matching seats.


Taking the whole scene into perspective, I was in love with the vivid contrast in colors. Definitely another great spot to wine down.

Continuing our tour, Devin led us down a flight of stairs and then stopped. He pointed his finger toward the pond and explained that it was created in the rare case of a draught. Due to the amount of rain Lexington receives each year, the pond hasn't been used for anything more than a photo backdrop and the casual sightseeing.


Moving right, our tour guide explained that this open area, which included the gazebo, tables, and chairs is often the location for many wedding celebrations. At night, the hanging lights turn on to create another romantic scene.


Turning our heads another quarter turn, we began to see the secret sauce behind a quality wine. Standing under a large covered area, we found ourselves looking at this enormous stainless steel drum. According to Devin, this is where the grapes are brought first. At this stage, all of the grapes go through a de-stemming process followed by a juicer. If one is making white wine, only the juice is used. If one is making a red wine, the entire grape is used. It is the skin that helps give the wine its red color.


Once the juicing is complete, it is then transported through a small pipe into the next room for fermentation.


Walking into the fermentation room, which was separated from the outside by a single door, we stood in awe at these large stainless steel containers that were organized in rows of ten.


As we made our way into the tall room, I could see some kind of party off in the distance. At first glance, I would say that it was a birthday party or maybe even an anniversary celebration. I just recall seeing a large gold balloon shaped in the form of numbers.

While they partied on the second floor, the group of people in our tour continued to file in through the door.

For the next few minutes, Devin spoke about the fermentation process. He explained how the juice was directed into these short-term storage devices and then magically transformed into wine. I think It's fascinating.


Walking through the fermentation room, we entered into another room with extremely high ceilings. Lining the walls were racks of wooden wine barrels.


It is during this step that the wine continues to age and develop its unique flavor. On one end of the barrel, the winemakers record the date.


Around the belly of the barrel rests a plastic plug called a "bung." This airtight object allows for easy access to the wine for a variety of reasons. Each barrel is designed with this opening and is aptly named a "bunghole." [Pause for a reaction]


I giggled like a schoolboy when I first heard this and looked around the room to see if anyone else got the joke. Clearly, I was the only one.

"Bunghole" is what Beevis and Butthead used to say. "I am Cornholio and I need TP for my Bunghole." [Still laughing]


Moving on.

Leaving the room full of barrels, we walked through a metal fire door into a much smaller space. To the left of us were two enormous wine barrels made from cedar. According to our tour guide, they are currently being used for show.


On the right side of the room was a large painting that hung on the wall adorned with a rich mahogany colored frame. The picture depicted a vineyard in the Fall where the leaves have started to turn yellow. If you look close enough, one can still see bunches of purple grapes ready for harvest.


For some reason, this picture seemed to both capture and hold my attention. Maybe it's the time of year. Autumn signals the end of summer when it's no longer hot. I felt at peace in this place.

Just beyond this area was a longer and wider hallway of sorts. On the right side were multiple panes of glass. On the left was a wall showcasing both pictures of wine barrels separated by stone carved statues of women holding wine pitchers. The contrasting colors of dark wood that decorated the bottom half of the wall and around the statues looked good against the lighter colored wall that sat above the wood panel. Definitely something I could see in a future iteration of my home.


Where the left wall felt natural, warm, and elegant, the opposing wall with the glass felt like an industrial manufacturing plant that was cold and sterile. The room on the other side of the glass contained stainless steel machines used in the bottling process.


In this room, we learned about the different types of corks and the length of time one can store wine in a bottle before it goes bad. Very interesting facts that I'll try to use at my next dinner party.

On to one of my favorite rooms in the winery.

Just off the hallway is an entrance into "The Cave." I don't think it's actually called "The Cave," but it's how it felt looking in.


From the outside, there are two spiraling green bushes guarding the wooden doorway. It is made of the same colored wood that runs across the left wall of the exterior hallway.

The cave runs deep and is made up of the same stones that decorate the winery's face.

The brick colored walkway breaks into two separate isles running alongside the three rows of fresh cedar barrels. The barrels rest securely atop a cement structure with gravel. The purpose of the gravel is to help the wine cellar breath.


At the far end of the cellar, one can see the large R.C. emblazed in black marble. R.C. stands for Richard Childress.

White lights hang from one of the three chandeliers, which helps to give a festive feel to the room. Beneath the lights is a large sturdy wooden table that is perfect for a family feast or an intimate wedding celebration.


According to Devin, this room also comes equipped with a waterfall fountain. It wasn't running at the time, but I could see myself spending a great deal of time in this place. It's secluded, quiet, and a perfect spot to enjoy a good conversation over wine.


At the heart of the cave was a locked wooden door with a large pane of glass. Inside the door were hundreds of bottles of wine resting individually within its own slot. In the middle of the room was another wooden table with six chairs followed by a few extra chairs aligned against the walls.


I don't know about you, but I can easily imagine a movie scene where the heads of an Italian mafia family would sit around this table, smoking cigars, and sipping on their finest wines while plotting their next move for total domination.


In fact, that is exactly what this cave holds within its belly. This particular cellar protects the finest and most expensive wines in the vineyard, which they call "Reserve" or "Cellar Reserve." These wines are aged in new barrels over those barrels that may have been used a few times before.


At this point, the tour around the winery was officially over.

One by one, members of our small party left the cellar to explore other areas of the facility. For La'Toya and I, we tarried a little longer.


Our steps were slower, smaller, and maybe even begrudgingly heavy as we didn't want to leave this peaceful place.


With everyone else gone, we sat down in the two empty chairs and just enjoyed each other's company. While a bit chilly at times, it gave us a perfect opportunity to nuzzle and embrace the perfection of this moment.


After enjoying our alone time in "The Cave," La'Toya and I decided to head back upstairs and partake of the various wines that we've learned so much about.

Routed through a back stairwell, our tour guide helped us once again find the Tasting Room on the main floor.


For $15 dollars per person, we decided to enjoy the "Barrel Select Tasting." This package features dry and full-bodied wines with a souvenir glass. The following wines were tasted:

* Andante Chardonnay ($24.99)
* Viognier ($24.99)
* Sangiovese ($18.99)
* Pinnacle ($14.99)
* Merlot ($18.99)
* Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99)
* Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.99)
* Starbound ($19.99)

Each tasting included eight 1/2 ounce pours, which didn't seem like much for a couple that enjoys a full glass per serving.





Nevertheless, we definitely had a great time laughing, sipping, and taking notes for our future reference.

Our favorite was the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon followed by the Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were really good, but the reserve was a bit more smooth.

One wine that I was really looking forward to trying was their Devil's Tribute. It's a red wine blend aged in whiskey barrels. While not a terrible wine, my favorite wine is still Robert Mondavi's Cabernet Sauvignon aged in bourbon barrels ($13.99).


For those interested in a wine club, Childress Vineyards offers two packages: 1) Sweet Club ($199) and 2) Dry Club ($250) where they send three packages of three bottles throughout the year (April, September, and December) along with other discounts.


At the conclusion of our wine tasting experience, we decided to grab dinner at Bad Daddy's Burger Bar in Winston-Salem.



On our way out, I took a few more pictures of the vineyard.




Overall, I had a marvelous time and look forward to exploring other vineyards in the area (and around the world).

Who knows, maybe we'll start sharing more of our explorations and experiences.

To Devin (our tour guide) and Childress Vineyards, I say "Thank You for hosting us!"

To La'Toya, I want to express a HUGE thank you for pulling me away from home and making my birthday a special one.

Until next time...

Sunday, January 6, 2019

An Elegant Evening At The Chateau

Photo Credit: Pleasantdale Chateau
It was afternoon and we arrived early at the historic chateau during a very crisp and chilly wind. As we walked up the stairs toward the building, I was amazed at how hidden this place was from the near city.

Once inside, we were greeted by a formal entry, halls laced with stone, and a quiet garden that begged for a moment of silence.

As I walked through the passageway, the air grew colder due to the number of windows that separated it from the outside world.


A sweet aroma filled the room. It was like a fresh potpourri of exotic breeds mixing together into a beautiful fragrance of peace and harmony.

Walking through the garden, I entered another small building.

In the center was a number of couches resting in front of a fireplace. Because I was the only one here at the moment, it was extremely quiet.

To the left, opposite the fireplace, there was a closed metal gate with an entrance to a pool. In my mind, I could see fans made of palm branches and a relaxing ruler eating grapes off the vine. For now, it was motionless but still inviting.



Leaving the pool, I turned back toward the assembly of couches where on either side of the fireplace were two entrances into a small dining room. 

To the left of the seating area was an inconspicuous door that led down a flight of wooden stairs.

Reaching the lower level revealed a dimly lit game room. It had two pool tables, two card tables fully equipped with essential supplies to play a variety of games, shuffleboard, and multiple food stations.



At one end of the room was a door leading to a barbershop with a 6-foot tall statue of a medieval suit of armor resting motionless beside it. On the other end was a large couch with a flat screen television.


This room felt like a true gentleman's corner.

After exploring the pool area, I walked back through the garden toward the front door of the Chateau.

From the main entryway, there are four possible ways to go. Where I initially went right, this time I took a left into a much larger dining area.



For a moment, I felt as though I had been transported back through time. The place was gorgeous...almost fairytale like. I completely understand why a formal affair would happen here. It was amazing!



As I walk through the dining hall to further explore the secret treasures this place holds, I see large wooden tables, huge decorations on the walls, and well-manicured grass outside through the windows.


It's quiet. Where are all the people? I ask myself.

Obviously, nobody answered. It's just me. With each room that I explore, I feel an increasing discomfort begging me to stop snooping and get back to the safe places in the castle. Essentially, those few rooms that I was formally introduced to by the staff and its wealthy benefactor. Unfortunately, I couldn't stop. I made it this far without being stopped or questioned. Why not continue my journey? 


The next few rooms appeared to be related to the dining hall. One long room held tables and chairs for eating, but no windows for light.


"Fancy," is all I could say under my breath while I wondered how much this place might cost.


Walking through the dining area led me to the study.

To the right was another fireplace with a table placed in the middle of the room.

Around the walls were old books. Many of them appeared to be encyclopedias and other reference materials.

As I sat there, I could hear a group of ladies laughing nearby.

Moments later, a variety of staff members dressed in all black scurried by to attend to their respective posts and duties.

I felt a little out of place considering I was walking around the facility wearing sweatpants, t-shirt, and an afro.

Still wandering the halls, I exited the library through one of two glass doors near the fireplace. It led me to a long corridor made up of brick and marble.


Against the wall ran a series of wooden tables covered with snow-white coverings, plates, heating stations, and statues from the Orient.


Where do I go now?

I followed the construction noise and muffled voices until I arrived at a large ballroom filled with large glass windows and doors.


In the middle of the ceiling was a large dome with small glass panes decorating its circumference. Natural light filled the dome and bled into the room below.


In the middle of the floor was a peach-colored dance floor made of medium-sized marble tiles. Around the dance floor was a dark floral print carpet that filled the expanse of the room.



The voices I followed came from a couple of dark-haired men dressed in all black. They both had medium builds, wore heavier black coats, and were caught in different stages of moving chairs and stone pillars into a layout resembling that of a wedding. There was a single aisle in the middle of two sections of cream colored chairs lined with white waist-high pillars still wrapped in plastic.

The room felt incomplete but it had potential. With the right accessories, this formal layout could really come to life.

Disappointed that I didn't recognize anyone, I decided to continue my walk around the facilities.

Where did everyone go?

After leaving the ballroom, I noticed a group of well-dressed individuals beginning to gather near the chateau's entrance.

From a distance, I couldn't hear what they were saying, but it looked like they were guests greeting one another.

I could tell that they were guests because one of the older ladies was wearing an expensive looking fur coat, which would suggest that this group had just arrived through the chilly afternoon air. Now inside, they could safely remove their coats and warm up near one of the raging fireplaces.

As I approached the attendees, there was a clear difference in our attires. They were wearing formalwear while I looked like I just walked in after a Saturday morning cleaning session.

Once I got within an arm's length away from the group, I smiled warmly as I introduced myself. If you didn't know any better, you would think I had my suit on and owned the place. At one point in our conversation, I was giving directions on where to find the bathrooms and suggesting places to go while we wait for the other guests to arrive.

Eventually, after shaking hands and kissing babies, I decided to head upstairs and change clothes in the master bedroom suite.

The room is hidden away on the second floor behind two doors. The first door leads to what appears like a long walk-in closet. Beyond the closet, which has multiple sliding glass mirrors, is the second door into the suite.

The Master Bedroom Suite is a large room with a king-size bed. The furniture appears to fit the theme of the castle, aged but still refined. On the wall to the right are a flat-screen television, two chairs, and a table.



In the middle of the room is a crystal chandelier. While it does a great job of bringing light into the room, the four windows appear to add a subtle warmth to the hideaway.

To the left of the bed is a door into the bathroom. It is painted a light tangerine brown color with sandstone colored ceramic tiles. The bathtub uses a contrasting set of aqua blue tiles with a white pedestal sink.


Once in the bathroom, there is another door that leads into the octagon shaped living room. Decorated with a couch and two plush chairs, the room uses a competiting floral pattern decor for its wallpaper and plaid in its curtains. Due to its location, it feels like a hidden room perfect for entertaining cocktails and conversations.


More of the guests began to arrive and I was walking around the castle in sweatpants. I knew then that it was time to change clothes and prepare myself for the evening ahead.

By the time I came back downstairs, the valet and waitstaff were in full swing.

I continued my earlier walk around the entrance welcoming people, shaking hands, and introducing myself to the other attendees. At one point, I noticed the bar was now up and running, so I stopped and grabbed a glass of bubbly champagne. Come to think of it, I may have stopped by the refreshment station a few more times for good measure.

"Howdy!" I would say.

At other times, I would raise the glass and give a head nod.

"Good to see you." I would reply.

It didn't take long before the waiting area, bar, garden, and entrance spaces were full of people dressed to impress. The ladies showed off their elegant dresses while the men wore tuxedos and dark suits. I have to admit it, we were clean!

In an effort to stay cool amongst the large crowd, I decided to take a casual stroll through the garden. It was cold enough to keep from sweating but covered enough to avoid being cut by the piercingly cold wind outside.

[Snapshot]



It was then, off in the distance, that I could hear a small bell ring.

"It's time."

A small slender man dressed in a black suit, white dress shirt, black tie, and white gloves walked quickly toward the guests.

The gentleman's face was jovial yet focused. As he neared the group, I could hear his black dress shoes tap rapidly against the floor. With his hands, he began to motion us toward him while he mouthed the words, "Please follow me."

Similar to the great escape led by Moses thousands of years earlier, the large mass of well-dressed people began to follow him through the garden, entryway, long corridor, and finally into the ballroom.

It was amazing. The large rotunda that I had visited only a few short hours earlier was now transformed into a new magical world created solely within the imagination of a visionary.

With the sun being replaced by the moon, the creators threw soft colors of light all over the dimmed room. There was a significant splash of orchid purple on the ceiling and walls with turquoise blue as a contrasting accent color. To really make the room sing, small white lights were strategically placed around the decor alongside the bright yellow glow radiating from surrounding candles. Simply beautiful!


As we entered the room, guests were directed to their appropriate places. A feeling of excitement and anticipation filled the air because we all knew that the reason for our gathering would be revealed within a matter of moments.

Once everyone was in place, the music in the room changed and the huge doors opened.

That's when I saw HER.

The large doors in the back of the room opened slowly like the doors of the Emerald City in the Land of Oz. With bated breath, each guest immediately turned toward the entrance in anticipation of the long-awaited wedding party.

First, there was the groom, a stocky bald-headed man with a short beard. He was wearing a tailored black tuxedo, white shirt, black bowtie, white pocket square, and a huge smile. You could tell that he was excited to be there.

Following the groom were his best man and the band of merry groomsmen. Without knowing them, you could tell that each of them liked to have fun and enjoy life to the fullest. Their walk was a mixture of confidence, testosterone, and a lot of youthful energy.

Once the men entered and found their spot at the front of the room, everyone turned around for the women. It started with the Maid of Honor and then the bridesmaids. In a word, each one of them was "stunning." From the hair on their head to the heels under their feet, they were gorgeous.

One minute I was commenting on how beautiful the ladies looked and then in the next moment SHE turned the corner. In an instant, the entire room grew quiet and it was as if time had slowed to a near crawl.

"It's HER." I said to myself.

My eyes grew wide as they attempted to take in the fullness of her captivating beauty. She had long black curly hair that bounced ever so slightly over her pretty brown neck and shoulders. Her eyes looked down toward the floor as if she was trying to hide her gentle sensitivities, but her self-confidence shown through like a ray of sun through closed blinds.

She wore a black dress that hugged her in all the right curves and then accessorized it with a bouquet of flowers and a shiny pair of diamond earrings.

"Wow!" I thought. She took my breath away.

As she continued to glide down the aisle, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She was mesmerizing.

Not to seem overly stalkerish, I allowed my gaze to waver but for a moment as the audience stood and turned to welcome the bride. While I don't recall every detail, I do remember that she had on a long white dress that followed her from behind. It was decorated near the top with lace and a set of sparkly shoulder straps that hung off the side. She was adorned with long black curly hair, a Hollywood smile, with a flawless glow.

Once the ceremony began, I found it extremely difficult to stay focused on the proceedings because my eyes kept wanting to steal another glance at her.

For most of the time, she looked upon the bride in support, but there was that one moment that I caught her gaze. Her beautiful brown eyes found me in the crowd where she then used those long eyelashes and innocently shy smile to send a flirtatious message.



"Boom, boom...boom, boom." That was the sound of my heart.

After the ceremony, the wedding party marched its way out of the door with the attendees not far behind. As we walked out, all of the guests were encouraged to refresh themselves at the multiple open bar stations around the facility. Not only were there cool refreshments, but they also had various assortments of finger foods. From cheese cubes to lamb chops, we probably ate better than at any Thanksgiving dinner.

For the next hour or so, while the wedding party was off taking pictures, friends and family engaged in cocktails and conversations. I met so many great people that the time just sped right by. Before we knew it, we were being guided back into the ballroom where it had transformed into another sitting arrangement. Instead of having chairs lined up into rows, the room now had large circular tables with fancy table pieces.

Where the priest once stood, there was now a DJ. He had his large speakers, digital turntables, and a long playlist of songs to keep our toes tapping.

Once all of the guests were escorted to their seats, the wedding party made their entrance. Some walked in dancing while others waved like royalty. In the end, everyone was ready to celebrate this very special union.

As is the custom in many marriages, the first dance was reserved for the bride and groom. Today was no different. We all huddled around the dance floor while the couple looked lovingly at each other and savored the journey to this moment. Priceless!

At the conclusion of their dance, everyone was excused back to their assigned tables. Fortunately for me, I had the distinct pleasure of having HER sitting closely at mine.

Let the party begin.

After the couple's first dance, SHE walked over to the table where I was sitting. I can only imagine how big the smile was on my face when she walked up. She was gorgeous and she knew it.

I don't recall the first words that we said to one another, but I remember sitting there at the table feeling a bit nervous. Where do we begin? I thought.

In my head, I kept saying, "You already know this woman," but for some reason, everything felt completely new. Maybe it was the fairytale-like scenery, the dressing up to be "Fancy," or maybe it was the few glasses of Johnnie Walker on the rocks that caused the giddiness I felt. Whatever it was, I liked it.

Over the next few minutes, I took advantage of the moment and asked for a picture. She agreed.

I grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close.

[Camera Snap]



That was the first time we touched that evening and it felt great. All of a sudden, my chest started to feet hot. Not as in sweaty hot, but like an inner glow that warmed my heart kind of hot.

After the pictures, I asked if she wanted to dance. She said, "Sure." I grabbed her hand and led her to the dance floor.

By this time, many of the guests did what we did and moved to the center of the room. The two of us walked to an open area on the floor and started to dance. She put her arms around my neck, I put my hands around her waist, and we just got lost in the moment.

When I looked at her, she had this big smile on her face followed by an innocent little giggle. I laughed.

"What, you didn't think I could dance?" I asked.

"No, I've never slow danced before." She said shyly.

"Say what?" I acted surprised by her comment. "You've never slow danced before? Girl, we're gonna change that tonight." I replied with a sly grin and chuckle.

Round and round we went until the song came to an end. I took her hand into mine and led her back to the table where many of the other guests were assembled.

We went around the table and did introductions. I already knew many of the guys from the cocktail hour but hadn't had the opportunity to meet their wives and girlfriends since most all of them were in the wedding party.

Over the next few minutes, we socialized as a group but I wanted to steal a few moments alone with HER. So, I asked her to take a walk with me.

We both got up, put our napkins on the table, and left the room hand-in-hand.

The music from the rotunda grew quieter as we walked down the long corridor. I could see a huge weight being lifted from her shoulders as the noise turned into a more peaceful silence.

Knowing the perfect place to go, I led her to the "Secret Garden."

[Camera Snap]



The two of us stood there in the middle of the garden. It was quiet. There were no other people around as they were all in the ballroom celebrating.

A faint sound of blowing air emanated from the vents spaced evenly throughout the room. It didn't feel cold like it was earlier that day, so my guess is that the air was to warm this vulnerable space.

The aroma from the surrounding plants and flowers created a calming effect on me while also deadening any exterior noises. It was peaceful.

In the middle of the room was a sturdy wooden table with a light-colored marble top. There was a large blooming plant in the center of the table that took a considerable amount of space.

For some reason, we gravitated to that table while in the middle of our conversation. Honestly, I don't remember the details of our talk, but I remember how it felt.

SHE was walking slowly around the centerpiece with one hand lightly brushing against the cold marble surface. Every so often, she would look up and grin teasingly. I smiled warmly finding her flirtatiousness to be quite entertaining.

I stood there at one end of the table with my hands in my pocket while we continued our light and playful dialog.

Finally, she came around, stood in front of me, and smiled with her beautiful brown eyes. As she slowed her movement, I leaned back against the table and grabbed her waist. Gently, I pulled her closer to me and she wrapped her arms around my neck as if we were preparing for another slow dance.

I could hear her breathing ever so lightly in my ear while her intoxicating perfume filled my soul. The world stopped and I quietly begged for this moment to never end.

Feeling completely overwhelmed with emotion, I kissed her. She was sweet like a drop of honey and soft like a snow white Camellia petal. Perfect!

The moment seemed timeless, but in reality, it may have only been a few minutes. Slowly, we pulled away from each other and exhaled.

She smiled a huge smile and giggled a bit as if embarrassed. Her face was warm and blushingly pink. I smiled to assure her that everything was alright.

After a brief moment of silence, we hugged tightly. We stayed in that place for a moment while allowing our embrace to comfort one another. It felt wonderful.

Realizing that some time had passed, we decided that it would be best to get back to the party. So, we walked briskly down the hall and into the corridor. The music that was once a distant blur was now growing increasingly full.

With the lights flashing, music pumping, and people talking, we were once again in the mix. The remainder of the night was completely amazing. We all had an incredible time celebrating with the beautiful bride and handsome groom.

As the night came to a close, we all put on our coats, said goodbye to one another, and walked back outside into the dark crisp air. One-by-one, the valet would bring the cars and the large crowd slowly left the building until there were none.

[Fade to Black]


To the families, friends, and supporters that made this event possible, I say "Thank you!" It was beautiful, elegant, and an experience that I will never soon forget.

Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

Toll-free: (919) 912-9121
E-mail: Contact Me

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