Before Real Housewives of D.C., (unlike the other ladies and Paul), Jason and I had never met the Salahis or had any interaction with them personally or professionally. We knew nothing about them: their finances, their history, how they roll, none of that. I suppose we could have "researched" them, but who does that? We don't.
You can probably tell by now, we love wine. So at Mary's birthday dinner, when I discovered that the Salahis said that they owned a winery (Oasis) and that Tareq said he was an "Ambassador" for the Virginia Wine Association, I invited them to visit Sugarleaf Vineyards, owned by our good friends Lauren and Jerry Bias. Every fall, they host friends and family for a harvest party on their 130-acre vineyard outside Charlottesville, Virginia. We take the kids down for tractor rides, great food, and for the adults -- wine sippin' all day (no driving). Make no mistake: Sugarleaf Vineyards is LEGIT. Their wine was served by the White House at the 2010 Governor's Ball!
In retrospect, I wonder if the Salahis were expecting a red carpet affair at Sugarleaf, because they rolled up in a big white stretch limo, dressed to the nines. We, on the other hand, were chilling in jeans -- after all, we're in a vineyard in the mountains tossing balls around with the kids and making sure they stay out of the lake. Besides looking like they were at a movie premiere, Tareq and Michaele were gracious to our friends. They brought a bottle of Oasis wine to share and really seemed to enjoy both the visit and the Sugarleaf wines.
While strolling among the vines, I mentioned that we were going to Paris in a few days and flippantly said, "you should go" (Big Ballers). Jason's brother Adam, a.k.a. Beat Assailant (B.A.), has lived in France over 10 years where he is a hip-hop sensation (who knew the French loved rap music? It's the biggest market after the U.S.). He was dropping his third album, celebrating a hit single called "Spy" and headlining a sold-out concert at the historic Elysee Montmartre! Truth be told, I seriously didn't think that anyone would book a trip to Paris with 72 hours notice for a concert (except maybe to see Prince or Bono). Jason and I actually work everyday, so we have to plan these things far in advance! Apparently, a quick jaunt to France was no biggie to the Salahis!
We did not talk to the Salahis after the vineyard visit, so imagine my surprise when we received a 7 a.m. call at our hotel in Paris from Michaele -- "Hi Love, we're here." WHAT? WOW. So I can vouch for the fact that the Salahis are spontaneous and will "jet set" for fun. And, they didn't crash Paris. While I certainly don't agree with their decisions (and behavior) of late, I can say that they have been nothing but nice towards Jason and me from the outset. We drank Dom Perignon on the balcony of their lavish suite (overlooking Place Vendome) and danced like fools at the concert to five encores!
Personally, I SO admire people like Jerry, Lauren and Adam who follow their passions, conquer their fears and go for it! Jerry Bias wanted to create great wine so he bought land and a grape vine and started his vineyard from scratch. Do you know how hard that is to do?!?! Adam/Beat Assailant moved to Paris to pursue his music career not knowing a soul in the business or a lick of French. Ten years later, he is a recognized name there, is fluent in French, and has produced three popular albums! What was also cool (that you didn't see on TV) was our family dinner in Paris at Jason's cousin Charmaine's flat. We had a big contingent of family and friends join us to celebrate. It was so nice to gather with my other family, even a million miles away from home.
Perhaps the atmosphere of family on that trip compelled me to share with Michaele a journey I've been on for the past nine years. It wasn't until my parents were deceased and I had a medical need to know my birth history while pregnant that I became curious about finding my birth parents. This led me to discover that I am bi-racial with a Nigerian father! Imagine my surprise to find out that I am AFRICAN American with a nuclear family connection to Africa -- but it also opened a door and a deep desire to know my roots and heritage, not just for me but also for my children.
In sharing this story, for the first time, I saw a "different side" to Michaele -- a calmer, more engaged, more down to earth side. The only catalyst I can point out to explain the difference is that she was alone (no Tareq, for the first time ever!). So I saw a glimpse of "that girl," originally known as "Missy" -- the girl that Lynda and Mary remember (and liked) from "back in the day." We will find out together who the real Salahis are as the show progresses and the events continue to unfold. Earth to Missy?...