Our house in Napa sits on top of a hill, five miles up the curviest road I’ve ever driven on. It’s missing guardrails and flanked on both sides by small patches of vineyards and private, appointment-only wineries. The house itself is set back from the road. Past the gated entry, we pass a solitary solar panel and a totem pole. We arrive after everyone else. They’re by the pool. We unpack our things in the smallest bedroom and I take my camera before we lose what’s left of the sun. I try and photograph every strange thing I see in the house but it’s impossible, and I don’t even know if the photographs give it justice. It’s someplace you have to see for yourself; describing it is almost useless.
My brother is in Napa, too, and we meet him for wine tastings and a late lunch. We see a witless pet owner lock his baby pitbull in the car for a half hour in the hundred degree heat. By the time someone realizes what’s happened and convinces him to let the poor animal out, the dog is almost dead. We watch it lie lifeless on the cool tile of the wine room. He’s hardly bigger than a stuffed teddy bear and just the tip of his tongue sticks out of his mouth.
The next day I have work to do for school and so skip lunch and the first winery. By the time I meet the group in the early afternoon, it feels like everyone is buddied up. It’s hard to get into the groove of things. The wine tasting is held in the coldest part of the winery and afterwards I eat pasta salad in the car and try to avoid a budding sensation of loneliness. You know, the kind of loneliness you can only feel when surrounded by a large group of people. The kind of anti-lonely-loneliness. The kind that doesn’t make much sense.
The next day I write in the morning. It’s hard to find a quiet place to sit, and as soon as I do, I feel like I’m missing out on something important. But when I go and check, everyone is only silent by the pool. S googles what sort of bug is swimming around in the water. I read a book of short stories on a hammock and wonder if I’ll ever make sense of California. The heat, the sun, the water. It all feels a little bit like a foreign country right now. Or maybe even—some similar (but barely) alien planet.
photographs taken in Napa Valley, California
with a Canon 60D