Its a few days later and I’m back in Ohio, back at work. Today that means I’m sitting in my home office watching a light rain fall. It’s good…we’ve planted a bunch of new grass in several spots around the house and we need it to grow. Still, rain in the summer is never fun.
It’s 9:37am and the kids are still asleep. Yesterday they slept until 11am, had a nap at 4 and then were up until 12:30 or so. Still adjusting from the west coast I guess. I really didn’t mind. I’m still coming down from spending an uninterrupted week with them, not yet ready to let it all go. Rhonda’s at work. My mom is here too…also asleep. I missed logging our last day. I’ll try and grab some of it but I already know that if I don’t capture everything right away…it’s never as good of a memoir.
Travis picked me up at the Bonaventure shortly after I finished my last entry. From there, he and I headed east, out into the desert. It’s hot out in the inland empire. By 10am we had the air conditioning kicking and the temperature creeping up around 90. We took the 210 which, on a map, kind of stretches above LA as you’re getting out of town going eastward. It’s a route a used to drive all the time when I first moved to California in 1994. I lived right at the intersection of Hollywood, Universal City and Studio City and I worked in West Covina, which was about 35 miles east. As Travis and I headed to San Bernardino, it seemed like every exit we passed reminded me of something else.
Colorado Blvd. – This is where Rhonda and I first kissed.
Rosemead – I had three patients that lived off this exit.
Buena Vista – A patient named Eric was shot in the chest three times by a State Trooper on this exit ramp.
Irwindale – My first campaign, a casino measure.
We spent the entire hour long car ride talking…about everything really. Work, marriage, kids…our dad’s who are very different and very similar all at the same time. It was a good ride. Later in the day, when I got back, I was telling Rhonda how fun it was and how much I miss talking to and seeing him. She reminded me that I always say that after getting a chance to hang out with Trav.
Seeing Joon in the clink was a little unsettling. We made light of the situation. Fortunately no one was visiting anyone at the station directly to his left, so Travis and I each had a phone and Joon put one on each ear. It was pretty comical. But man…I really feel for that guy. I’ve been in jail. It sucks big time. It sucks even more when you know in your heart that you shouldn’t be there. Anyway…he’s out in a week. Seeing him was well worth the two hour roundtrip.
By the time I made it back to the girls they had done all the swimming they were going to do and were ready to rest for awhile. We got our bags and out car, said goodbye to the Bonaventure and I headed west on Sunset Blvd. Rhonda had never spent much time in Hollywood. Most times she was in LA previously were just to see me and I lived 40 miles south in Long Beach. Since the girls were tired and we were heading to Santa Monica, I decided to take the scenic route through Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Brentwood and the Santa Monica Mountains and give my wife a little tour. Good call…the kids slept the whole time and we got to talk.
Ava and I kept walking towards the beach. Ocean Blvd. runs parallel to the beach but is high above it, on a bluff. You have to walk down a long flight of stairs to get to the water’s level. PCH runs right next to it. When we finally reached Ocean, there was a restaurant right on the corner that had a perfect booth with a perfect view of the ocean and pier right in the corner of the outside patio (http://www.makailounge.com). The weather couldn’t have been more perfect.
“Bird, look!” I said. “The perfect table! Let’s go get it.”
She ran with me, more out of seeing my enthusiasm than knowing what I was talking about. As soon as we sat down, she wanted me to take her picture with some palm trees in the background, so she could remember them when we were back home. That’s this picture.
Boy did we throw down a feast. I immediately wanted to order the entire menu. Truth be told, I probably wasn’t that far when all was said and done either. There were wontons and slider…sweet potato fries and Asian ribs. We ordered a little sushi too, just for good measure. Hey, what did we care? This is our last meal, we told each other. It should be everything we want it to be.
My poor little Lily. She was trying so hard to be a big girl and not spill anything. And what happens? Dad drenches her with lemonade. All over her. I bit of irony, a bit of comedy but no fun whatsoever if you were little Lulu. To calm her down I took her for a little walk through the restaurant. Actually that was to swab her down so she wouldn’t be sticky. To calm her down I actually took her outside, crossed the street and showed her the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica pier. But it didn’t take much. Soon she was ok and we went back to finish our banquet-like departure spread.
And, of course, in keeping up with the week’s theme…we needed to have one last round of yogurt by the pound. So we did. Then we got on the plane. Now we’re home. It’s been less than 24 hours and the entire trip seems like it was a dream. We needed this, my family and I. We’ve been through a lot of shit this year and being together in a place where our everyday lives were banned was a good recipe for helping us find solid ground again. On the plane Rhonda and I made a hard commitment to do this every year. So that’s why families have ‘family vacations’ every year, I thought. It all makes sense now. Another mark in the ‘things that should be obvious’ column.
Goodbye, again, California.