Just two weeks ago, Barry Alberts and I were driving home from another fantastic dinner at Paradise Farms in Homestead, FL. Barry had asked me to help him pour four Spanish wines for the evening—wines he knew that I was familiar with, and that he had paired perfectly with the dishes prepared by some of the top chefs in South Florida for a lovely “dinner in Paradise”. About halfway home, he asked me if I liked the band, Radiohead, and if he could play a new album by Thom Yorke. Of course, I said, I enjoy listening to musically talented folks and their new projects—let’s do it. The first song Barry played for me was “Default” by Yorke’s new group, “Atoms for Peace”. It wasn’t long into the song before I was hooked. The car became a floating music machine, pumping out base and beats through the dark melodies of failed attempts at sobriety. Both of us were deep in concentration over lyrics and concepts; thoughts and memories were thick passengers beside us. The music was intoxicating.
We missed our exit.
Not to worry, there was another…song, exit too.
There will not be another car ride with Barry. A casualty of fate, Barry was a soul taken too soon.
I remember sitting in the passenger seat of his silver Acura and watching the lights of South Dade fly by outside. I remember thinking that I was enjoying my night, and he was a good friend. I felt the shared appreciation of art and pain. Unlike with many of our political discussions, we were together on this one. A silence of understanding and peace.
He was excited about the music, and that is how I will remember him.
As with all real friendships, Barry and I had our moments of push and pull, camaraderie and frustration, but he was a true blue. “Good people” is what they call folks like him. He was a genuine heart, and a gentleman. He took me under his wing as a newbie to the world of wine, and he gave me advice when I needed it the most. He included me in his group of friends, and allowed opportunities for many of my first tastes of exotic wines. He gave me experiences and confidence in an industry where young women are rare. I cannot thank him enough for the incredible intangibles and my beginnings in this delicious and expansive journey. He was my mentor, and I will forever be grateful for having a place in his life—such a short time.
For all the friends he loved; for all the times we shared…Cheers, Barry. You have no idea how much you are missed.