How her life Italian became mine (and our very first wine)

Above: The first wine we ever tasted together was Moncontour sparkling Vouvray. Tracie B had a bottle waiting for me in my hotel room the first time I came to Austin to visit. “Champagne,” I said. “No,” she corrected me. “It’s Vouvray.” I guess you could say that she had me at “hello.”

Stranger things have happened. When I got on a plane to come visit Tracie B in Austin, Texas in August last year, she and I weren’t strangers but we had never met in person nor had we ever spoken on the phone. We had been emailing probably ten times a day since our first exchange on July 15, the day after my birthday, one year ago today.

Above: This photo was taken the second time I visited and the first time we went to my now favorite (and Tracie B’s all-time favorite) Austin honky tonk, Ginny’s Little Longhorn. I was most definitely in the “pesce lesso” or “boiled fish” stage, as Franco used to tease me happily. That’s an Italian expression for “you’re so in love that the expression on your face looks like that of a boiled fish” (more or less). Franco’s family agreed with his assessment.

When my beautiful Tracie B and I became friends on Facebook a year ago today and began emailing and messaging furiously, I had known of her existence for some time: I had learned about her blog in early 2008 when I read her comments at Italian Wine Guy’s blog and started reading about “her life Italian.” IWG (aka Alfonso) and I had become friends through blogging, as had he and Tracie B. I really liked her “sassy” comments, as she likes to say, and when I started reading her blog, I was immediately enchanted by her honest writing style, with its Texan- and Neapolitan-inflected twang, and her funny insights into her life as an “ex pat” in Italy. But what impressed me the most was her sharp palate and her immense talent for describing wine. I was already a fan, but from a distance.

Above: In October, I surprised Tracie B for her birthday with Willie Nelson tickets. Back then, we had a long-distance relationship and I would come to visit with her in Austin about once a month. We hadn’t started talking yet about me moving here but the Texas flag in the background was a certain sign of things to come!

After Tracie B and I had been emailing, Facebooking, and otherwise messaging for about a month, IWG serendipitously suggested that I come out for Tex Som, the annual Texas sommelier conference, held in Austin last year (this year in Dallas). I couldn’t make it on those dates and so I asked Tracie B if I could come visit her anyway. She said yes and so the San Diego Kid booked himself a room at a B&B not far from where she lives.

Above: That’s us on New Year’s 2009 in Austin, just a few weeks after I drove out to Texas in my beat-up old Volvo from San Diego where I had been living.

We never spoke in realtime or in real life until that very first day she came to pick me up at the Austin airport back in August. In the months that followed, I must have come to visit Tracie B three or four times. In a lot of ways, our courtship was very old-fashioned: we would write each other every day, describing our daily lives and our lives past and our hoped-for lives future. I would send her mixed CDs of my favorite music, mostly country, and lots of dedications of songs that expressed what I was feeling for her.

Above: In February, Tracie B accompanied me on tour in France with my band Nous Non Plus. We had one of the most memorable meals of my life, lunch at the Tour d’Argent. It was a beautiful, clear winter day in Paris and I’ll never forget the way the sunlight shone on Tracie B’s face, reflecting up from the Seine.

In November, Tracie B made her first trip westward, to see where I lived and to meet my family and friends. By then, we were already deeply connected and the pangs of love that came with every goodbye were too much to bear and it was during her visit that we first talked about me moving to Austin. Later that month, I met her family for the first time when Tracie B took me home with her for Thanksgiving in Orange, Texas where she grew up.

Above: In March, Tracie B surprised me with Merle Haggard tickets. We’re both huge country music fans. That night was one of the most fun ever.

You see, when I met Tracie B, my whole life changed (you may remember the post I did, not too long ago, Just some of the reasons I’m so smitten). I’ll never forget when I first told Jayne and Jon about Tracie B and how I was going to visit her for the first time. “She’s an amazing writer,” I told them, “she loves food and wine, she has a fantastic palate, she loves country music, she’s beautiful, and she can cook like nobody’s business…” And Jon turned me and said, “AND she can speak Italian?” (Sometimes Tracie B and I speak in Italian, her with her Neapolitan accent, me with my Veneto accent! It’s hilarious.) By December, we had decided that I would move to Austin and I packed up my car and headed east and rented myself an apartment here. It was the smartest thing I have ever done (not that I am known for doing smart things).

Above: In April we went to the Texas Hill Country Food and Wine festival gala in Austin. I don’t know how a guy could be prouder than having a beautiful lady like Tracie B on his arm.

You see, Tracie B is simply the most lovely creature on this God’s earth that I have ever seen. And her cover-girl beauty is matched by the immense generosity of her heart and her bright spirit. Through her love and her affection, her devotion and her tenderness she has brought once unimaginable joy in to my life. I’ve fallen madly in love with her and just can’t imagine my life without her. She is my “Phantom of Delight”:

A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
To warm, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright,
With something of angelic light.

And so her life Italian has become mine.

Above: In May, I gave Tracie B this 1930s diamond and blue sapphire ring and asked her if she would marry me and she said yes! We are getting married in January 2010 in La Jolla and then we’re going to celebrate with friends and family at Jaynes Gastropub. I would venture to say that we’ll probably blog it, too! ;-)

When people ask us how we met, we tell them the story of how we learned of each other’s existence through our blogs and then were introduced online by a mutual and virtual friend whom we had both met through blogging. We courted, sending each other secret messages through our blog posts: remember the kiss I blew from the stage in Germany last September? Sometimes, on Saturday and Sunday mornings, we sit around her living room drinking coffee, blogging and reading blogs, sending each other messages on Facebook and emailing each other. Ours is a bloggy blog world and we love it.

It’s our life Italian now and I love her. I love her thoroughly, completely, absolutely, immeasurably, undeniably, undyingly, ceaselessly, tirelessly, unflaggingly… I thank goodness for the day I started my blog way back in 2006, just to keep a journal of good things I drank and ate. Blogging has delivered more rewards — personally and professionally — than I could have ever imagined. (Click here to read her version of our story).

Coda: We’ll be serving that same sparkling Vouvray by Moncontour to our wedding guests as they arrive next January.

*****

She Was a Phantom of Delight
—William Wordsworth

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment’s ornament;
Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;
Like Twilight’s, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;
A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and way-lay.

I saw her upon a nearer view,
A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A Creature not too bright or good
For human nature’s daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.

And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveler between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
To warm, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright,
With something of angelic light.

40 thoughts on “How her life Italian became mine (and our very first wine)

  1. Tanti auguri, JP/TB… What’s most telling about this story is how the internet really has changed the way we live and interact. I guess you were both “born at the right time…”

  2. What fabulous story, you nearly had me in tears, and I have only read Tracie B’s blog once and now yours..

    Blogging has been extra good to you both, just imagine, well you can’t can you..You are both truly blessed to love one another as you do!! :-)

    I think you are an amazing man, and this is such wonderful tribute to Tracie B and your relationship :-)

  3. Lots of congratulations to you both! And it seems like only yesterday we met at Bahia Don Bravo over many bottles and tacos. Wow, were you in a different frame of mind back then. I remember, after perhaps the 6th or 7th bottle lay empty, saying to you that the following year would a be a good one, that you never know when and where you’ll meet the right person. You seemed pretty skeptical at the time.

    I’m so thrilled for you Dr, V! You have such a strong appreciation for romance and for the soulful side of life, it’s a pleasure to see yo so happy. You are like a flower in full bloom! All the best – Neil

  4. Aw…I knew every moment of this story, having seen you in Berlin right after you met Tracie B. last summer, and yet seeing it all together here is like reading it for the first time. You will tell it forever (and I think you’ve one-upped me and the German Professor in terms of romantic whirlwinds! After all, we had no email back in the day!). As someone wise said to me when I met my true love, your history starts now. I can tell it’s going to be an epic one. xx

  5. Best wishes to the two of you for a fantastic future together. Coming from someone married for over 25 years, I highly recommend spending the rest of your life with the person of your dreams, as I am sure you will.

  6. What a lovely story. I do hope one day soon I will listen to you two talk in Italian with your different accent and will add my Umbrian one to the mix. L’anello e’ bellissimo.

  7. Hey, congratulations! Beautiful story. Can’t wait to meet Miss B and share some fine barbecue if you’re not sick of it. But I have one question: when you are just lying around, or sitting across coffee on a Sunday morning, do you always call her Tracie B? :)

  8. you know i’m a twisted sort, but here’s what came to mind while reading this: “…tito hand me a tissue… jermaine, stop teasing…”

    in other words, CLASSIC (just like eddie murphy’s “delirious”)…

    you know i’m always down to see my hebrew brother from another mother get his happy on, and this is DEFINITELY the happiest that i’ve seen you.

    love you… love tracie b., too (already! …f’ing enchantress!!!)

    s.

  9. And there are those who scoff at the power of blogging and Facebook. Those people are cynical and sad. Many years of happiness and joy ahead for you. G’Bless

  10. That last comment was hysterical. Complimenti a tutti e due. Tanti auguri per un lieto futuro insieme. Susannah

  11. oh my goodness, what can i say?! y’all crack me up and brooklyn guy, was that a thinly-veiled “i told you so?” and eric, COME BACK TO TEXAS. good times for all, my friend :)

    2B, i love you too! it’s been such a great year…you’ve brought “unimaginable joy” into my life too! thank you for such a sweet, post and fantastic anniversary :xx

    to sean–”paul, i think i told you, i’m a lover not a fighter…”

  12. Congratulations!!! the internet is an amazing thing :) I’ve been reading tracie’s blog for a few years and it is so nice to see her (and you) so in love and happy. My Italian and I wish you much love and a long life of happiness!!

  13. This morning I cried to her version of the story, now I’m crying to yours. You are both so lucky, and I am so happy for you. The only thing that bugs me is how annoyingly beautiful she is in every single picture I have seen of her, and from what I’ve heard she is just as gorgeous in person. Congratulations!!!

  14. I just don’t know where to begin to thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for all the well wishes and thoughts… this has been such a momentous year for me and this week, with the many birthday wishes and well wishes for our engagement, has been an overwhelming rush of happiness and goodness — I just can’t think of any other way to describe it. Tracie B — and yes, I call her that nearly all the time, although other pet names are invoked depending on context ;-) — Tracie B and I are so fortunate to be part of such a warm and generous community of bloggers and friends and we are blessed to live in a time when the internet allows us all to stay in touch and connect in ways we wouldn’t have conceived just a few short years ago. After all, I never would have met Tracie B if Winnie wouldn’t have suggested that I start a blog and if Franco and Eric hadn’t encouraged me to blog two years ago when I began blogging and if I hadn’t met such nice folks like Italian Wine Guy and BrooklynGuy, who also provided inspiration and encouragement — and all of y’all… thank you, thank you… it’s been such a special week for me and for us…

    @Tracie B it all started with that one lil’ comment two years ago yesterday… it sure was a “lonely comment section” until you came around… tvbtlb

    and lastly, just a note to thank Mrs. B and Rev. B, who generously take time to read my blog, too, and who always have a kind word about it: thanks for making Tracie B. I can’t imagine the world without her. As the song goes, “Mrs. B, you’ve got a lovely daughter.”

  15. Congratulations and best wishes to both of you! And Happy Birthday too. It’s been fun getting to know you (and now Tracie B) this past year. Cheers.

  16. It was lovely watching your romance unfold, along with lots of good food and wine, on this blog (and Tracie B’s and IWG and ..well, you get the idea). Jeremy you are generous of heart and spirit. Congrats to you both. I’ll raise a glass of Vouvray in a virtual toast to two crazy kids in good ol’ fashioned love. It couldn’t happen to two smarter folks.
    Regards,
    genevelyn

  17. thanks, y’all, we had such a good time writing these and reading each other’s…we had even more fun living it, though, right 2B? tvb anche io, assolutamente :X

  18. beautiful and heartfelt description of your “courtship.” Can’t wait to meet Tracie B. when you return to La Jolla. It’s been a pleasure to follow both your blogs.

    Noël

  19. …and after reading your post I am heading for Bar Rosso at Santa Margherita to enjoy a spritz con bitter…

    Saturday evening I’ll be visiting Enzo Pontoni/Miani at Buttrio. Very curious to meet this very reserved person since I enjoy very much his wines.

  20. Mazal Tov Jeremy and Tracie,
    I have been reading both your blogs for a while. My wife and I just read your part of the story and are so happy for you both. We just had a wonderful dinner in Bologna on our honeymoon and thanks to you and your blog promoting wonderful natural wines had a great time with Giampiero Bea of Paolo Bea a few days ago. May you have a wonderful time at your wedding and also a wonderful time on your (Italian?) honeymoon.

    May you have a long and wonderful life together,

    Ben C

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  22. Love makes life so grand. You can weather any storm that comes your way. Congratulations Jeremy. Like you and Tracie I’m an Italophile, albeit, a recent one. I’m an internet junkie and started watching silly Italian TV shows on YouTube. It started from there and mushroomed into full-fledged love for Italy and the Italians. I even have a pen pal in Verona. Much success in your new adventure.

    • @Meg thanks so much for the kind words and thoughts and wishes… they mean so much. I remember way back when writing to Tracie B, “you and I both suffer from Italophilia”! ;-)

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