This post is dedicated to five wonderful dads who took over a temporary role of single parenthood while their wives, a group of friends, headed for sunnier skies and beaches in Southern California for the weekend. Not only did I get to take this trip with my friends, but Southern California is where I spent the first half of my life and where several members of my family still live.
After landing at the San Diego airport we went to retrieve our bags when I looked out the wall of windows and saw the palm trees swaying without me, and I knew that my bag would have to wait a minute while I went outside to inhale the balmy air. I ran for the exit, opened the door and took a deep breath – unfortunately I was met with an aroma comparable to dark corners of Denny’s restaurants caused by a group of people equally desperate to get outside…smokers. It wasn’t until we reached the shores of the La Jolla Cove that I would inhale again and be able to affirm, “Aaaahhh…I’m home.”
After bike rides around Coronado Island, Go-Kart racing at Miramar, authentic Mexican food for dinner and a nostalgic visit to the temple where Cory and I got married, we headed for the house of my childhood where my parents still live and where we would spend our first night. As we approached my home and ascended the driveway I could see the lights illuminating the kitchen nook, and there sat my parents, enjoying their dinner meal together. I smiled to myself and ran to greet them – they gave hugs all around and again I thought, “Man it feels good to be home.”
For the next two days we took in several tourist attractions and made our way to the beach whenever possible. We saw sunsets, Beverly Hills, carnivals, Rodeo Drive, Darth Vader and Spiderman, street performers and transvestites. We shopped Hollywood Blvd. and consumed the most intoxicating serving of Gelato I’ve had since wandering the very streets of Italy. On our last day, a family dinner with my parents and two of my brothers and their families was the final event before boarding the plane back to Denver. I soaked in the atmosphere I was raised in, laughing as much as humanly possible and consuming enough rolls to make Atkins turn in his grave. I watched my oldest brother take a genuine interest in the lives of strangers, I made my youngest brother do some of his uncanny impersonations, I watched my thirteen-year-old nephew entertain my 3-year-old nephew nonstop, and I watched my parents continue to do what they have always done, creating an environment that makes everyone want to stay. But it was time to go.
I arrived home after midnight. There were jackets piled on the arm of the couch, chicken nuggets in the freezer, and remnants of the guys’ dinners together (in our absence) lining the fridge. The dishes were done and the kids were tucked in bed. I went to kiss the kids and nuzzle their necks – Drew slept through it but Samantha woke up enough to sling her arm around my neck and say, “Hey mama.” “Goodnight baby girl, I’ll see you in the morning,” I said. She fell back asleep, and I tried to get ready for bed as quietly as possible. I finally slipped into bed when Cory woke up enough to give me a hug and inquire about the weekend. With his arms around me I provided a brief rundown and promised more details the next day. I set the alarm, pulled up the covers, closed my eyes and smiled at the ceiling.
“Aaaahh…” I thought. “It’s good to be home.”