It was one of lunch dates that should have been a good, even great, date. The phone conversations had been lively and we had similar backgrounds and interests. So, with the top down on his vintage sports car, we headed over the hill to Half Moon Bay late one autumn seeking a restaurant with a view of the water.
It was a very busy restaurant, filled with the Sunday brunch crowd.
Let’s split an appetizer and then he left a tiny tip. I slipped the waitress an apology tip and later declined his request for a second date.
But he didn’t know that then, so when we left for the ride back, he turned down a side road off Hiway 94 into one of the many small, local wineries.
At the end of the long graveled drive was a large barn and collection of mid-size metal outbuildings, each with a heavy barn door. The barn was home to the winery and tasting room while the smaller buildings showcased artisans who were all focused on their crafts.
He swung around in front of one of the larger outbuildings, parked and said Let’s go in. I have to pick up a package.
We walked through the open doorway straight into an enormous blast of heat. There, amid the blazing furnaces, were heavy insulated mitts, long iron rods, tongs, anvils, forges and an array of powdered dyes. The molten glass had been formed into pumpkins, paperweights, bowls and what could only be described as enormous ice sculptures. It was simply amazing.
The artist-in-residence, a soft spoken loan officer during the week, finished breathing life into the hot white glass, looked up, removed his safety goggles and greeted us. The package was exchanged while I looked closer at the array of unique sculptures.
The glassblower inquired, Do you have a few minutes?
Then he looked at me.
Come here — yes, you, come here. What would you like to make?
I ventured nearer, the heat from the furnace becoming more and more intense. He held out mitts, goggles and a long black metal rod and nodded towards a number of small glass items…a paperweight, a pumpkin, a heart.
The heart. I’d like to make a heart.
And, just like that, the safety goggles were protecting my eyes while my hands and forearms were encased in the large insulated gloves and holding a very heavy rod with a glob of molten glass balanced on the end. Focused only on the glass, the rod and his patient instructions, I turned the iron rod and white mass round and round over the flames. Then, swoosh, he had his arms around me, gloved hands over mine, lifting my arms, the rod and hot glass to the colored powders.
Green? You sure?
I just smiled, suspecting he had never heard of a healing heart.
I sprinkled a pinch of the dusty green powder onto the hot white glass. And then, a quick turn to a steel anvil and together we shaped the blob into a heart as the rich green shades swirled into an unexpected design.
Another quick turn and the heart disappeared into the kiln.
I’m not quite sure what I expected, but I drove up the Peninsula later the next week to retrieve the finished project from the glassblower-turned-loan agent who greeted me with the same gentle smile. He had carefully wrapped the heart and presented it in a small white box.
I opened the box, unwrapped the tissue, ever so gently held the green heart in my hands and caught my breath at its beauty.
I’m so very sorry.
But it’s beautiful!
No, it’s flawed. There’s a bubble.
I looked closer. There it was, not a bubble but a small, almost imperceptible teardrop in my heart.
It was perfect.