I’ve noticed lately that I need to get to a fair amount of mundane thoughts or observations before I can ever get to the content I actually wanted to write about. I’m going to try not to do that today. No guarantees though. It’s just about 7:45an and I’m sitting outside in a tear-dropped shaped wicker chair overlooking the pool and ultimately Mission Bay, which sits on top of my view like a whitish blue blanket. The morning marine layer makes the sky hard to distinguish from the water, so I’m just going to believe the water extends far above me. Seems more interesting than thinking the sky is dripping into a pool that extends all around me.
An eclectic collection of beats is almost blaring from the speakers above my head. I thought about moving because I didn’t want it to be a distraction. Then I figured I’d stay and make a concerted effort to lay down inside them. Then there’s a constant humming of the waterfall by the pool which is probably the thing that’s making me ok with everything. That and the fact that there is no getting away from the smell of sea water…which I love.
Last night we got back from dinner right as the fireworks from Seaworld were raining down on the bay. Earlier a man in the hot tub had said our hotel and, in particular, the view from the hot tub was the best in San Diego. I dropped the girls off in front and they bustled through the front of the hotel to the special spot while I quickly parked the car. I ended up missing them but they didn’t which of course was all that mattered. But the ambience at the pool was exciting so we hung around for just a little while watching the various firepits, listening to several different sounds of water blend in to the palm tree leaves getting pushed around by the night breeze.
Déjà vu hit me and I sat there for several seconds entertaining this feeling of familiarity that has been around in my life since I was a kids. The things I was hearing, seeing and feeling – the glow from the green light in the pool, the palm trees, the sound of water and the breeze – and all of it against the black night canvass and pervasive smell of the ocean. I’ve been here before.
They’re the exact ingredients that make up the allure the ocean has on me. That feeling was the unexplainable catalyst behind my move to California and a countless number of calming moments over the course of my life. The thing is, they haven’t all happened at the same time in years…not until last night. It finally dawned on my where they originated. It was my first trip to Cancun with my family. I must have been 10 or less. We stayed at a place that’s more than likely no longer there called ‘Dos Playas’. It was exactly not a big resort. Rather, it was a two story hotel that sprawled across a quarter mile or so of beach with a big swimming pool that overlooked the beautiful turquoise of the Caribbean. There was also a big open-air Mexican restaurant with a tall thatched roof that sat in a space between the coarse grass that spread across the hotel grounds and the beach.
I remember leaving that restaurant with my family after we’d just eaten dinner. I even remember what I had – steak. The leftovers were wrapped up in tin foil and I ended up eating them the following morning, cold. The four of us – my mom, dad and sister – walked out of the restaurant and decided to take a leisurely walk back to the room. It was pitch black outside except for strategically placed ground lights that worked in perfect synergy with the moon, casting perfect shadows of palm trees that would swat to and fro with the breeze coming off of the water. We passed a ridge where we could see the Caribbean, still glowing even at night. We walked around the pool where late night swimmers were pushing gentle green waves across the iridescent water. Then we got back to our room and I crawled into bed with my sister and went directly to sleep.
You know why I remember those things? Because I was with my family and I was in the perfect place for me. Just the four of us. And no matter what else happened in the world, as long as I was right there, I would be ok. I’ve never forgotten that time and until last night, I didn’t know where it started. Ok, ok…Enough about me. Wait, this is my journal.
Yesterday was another long but enjoyable day. As I said, we decided to head back to Disneyland in the morning. Going the night before with people who knew the lay of the land saved us a lot of headaches I think. That place is flat out overwhelming but since we were there twelve hours earlier we knew where to park, catch the tram and where we needed to get to once we were on the inside. Our mission was simple – get to meet the princesses and maybe ride a couple rides. Well…fat chance. That m@!@& f#!^! princess line was about two hours long. That was a non-negotiable event, too. So…once it was evident that we’d be there awhile, in one line, my anxiety kicked up and I needed to walk. The place was absolutely jam packed. I couldn’t believe it. No, what I REALLY couldn’t believe was how must worse it must be on weekends.
The money thing I didn’t think about. Part of the Disneyland fantasy has to be convincing yourself that the money your spending isn’t real…it’s Mickey Bucks or something. You could count all the dollars that drain out of your pockets once you’re there I guess. But it just seems like an unnecessary way to torture yourself. Disney isn’t supposed to be about torturing anything or anyone I don’t think. Maybe I’m wrong.
Fortunately the SoCal sun squeezed a lot of energy and motivation out of the girls. As soon as they met the princesses they were ready o throw in the towel on the happiest place on earth. Nice. $100 to wait in line for two hours to meet an 18 year old girl in a snow white gown. Wait! That’s torture, isn’t it?! Anyway…we did slightly more than that. While I was walking around I found a big treehouse we could climb. “Tarzan’s Treehouse” actually. So the girls and I did that. Translation: I carried Lily up to the top while Bird raced up the stairs looking for Gorillas. We were a wash of sweat when we finally got back down and all ready to say goodbye to Mickey’s Magic Kingdom.
What I wasn’t willing to do was throw in the towel on lunch and eat at some lame place – or some Disney place – just because I was starving. Three of the four meals I’d eaten so far were driven out of necessity and accessibility, not because they were what I wanted. Anyone who knows me knows that’s a recipe for trouble (ridiculous/appropriate pun) I offered two choices as we pointed our way towards San Diego: Taco Surf or In-n-Out. Didn’t matter to me which one so when Rhonda chirped out In-n-Out I had the car yanked around and heading towards the closest one my GPS could recommend… and then there was me…back to my happy place, not a care in the world. I even got Bird a chocolate milkshake. (Lily was asleep).
Making things even better…an hour and a half later we were checking in to our hotel in San Diego – the Hilton Spa Resort on Mission Bay. That’s what I’m talking about. That resort feel. I knew LA wouldn’t feel like a vacation to me because we had places to go and people to see. I have truly been looking forward to getting down here and…just…relaxing.
But I also started to get a little stressed when we got here. Rhonda has friends down here and before I knew it, she was on the phone and scheduling and all of our time as a family seemed to be getting sucked out of the day, overlaid with friend’s activity. I guess I shouldn’t say it like that. They are my friends too and we definitely saw my folks in LA. What I didn’t want was the focus to come off the kids and our time together. We planned this trip in direct response to losing the baby two months ago and because it coincides with our anniversary. I don’t want to lose sight of those things.
But, as if someone was listening to my thoughts and monitoring my stress-o-meter and adjusting the world accordingly, the Sand Diego folks ended up canceling on us. Relief washed over me like a cool wave. Our time. I took the girls to the pool around 5:30 and we swam for about two hours. Then we realized that neither of them had eaten much all day, so we decided to clean up and head to Pacific Beach.
The destination? Fillipis, an Italian place I used to go to with my family every time we came to San Diego (which was a lot). For years I have been wanting to see if the food and the legend were actually connected. Not being a picky eater but instead a ‘rather judgmental foodie’, I assumed that the allure (again) would be the history, ambience and memories and perhaps the food would be incidental. Not so much. It was fabulous. I ordered rigatoni with red clam sauce. Rhonda got shrimp Fillipi, which of course we shared. We also got a big pizza with anchovies, spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna. And an antipasto salad. That should be enough to give the place a fair sampling, right? It was. It was also enough for us to look like the fat little piggies that we are…but when has that ever been a bad thing in our family?
The girls are so fun to take to restaurants anymore. They played with pizza dough while we waited for our food then sampled everything we had on the table. How many toddlers do that? Ava was hilarious. She had almost a whole order of spaghetti and meatballs, pizza, some of my pasta, pizza and lasagna. Then at about four in the morning she jumped out of bed and started whining “Ugh! Dad! I am soo thirsty!” It was hilarious! One drink of water later she crumpled back onto her pillow and started sleeping again. Maybe it was a dream. I doubt it.
Don’t ask me how, but after dinner we rolled ourselves down Garnet Avenue to a place called Yogurtland where you serve yourself any of about a dozen frozen yogurts that ooze out of dispensers in the wall. Then you sprinkle your choice of about 50 toppings…then you pay…by the pound. It was actually a good idea and delicious.
An hour later we were home, in our pj’s with the girls lightly snoring and across the divide, Rhonda and I laying on the other bed sipping an Australian Pinot Noir and looking at the day’s pictures. Soon the sleepy bug hit us and we were out.
I woke up first. Here I am, trying to capture a few memories before I go explore whether or not I can rent a paddle boat before we go to Seaworld!
Last night she realized that there is a door in our room that leads to an adjoining room.
Hey! Where does this door go? She asked swinging on the handle.
Bird watch it. That goes to another person’s room.
What? Why wouldn’t they put it in the hall then, with all the other ones?
Um… Hey, come here and sit down.
See what I mean?