Vacation So Far

We’ve been in California since Saturday, and it has been a trip of pure delight.

The weather is gorgeous. It’s warm and sunny and perfect. Monday afternoon, I sat on the Parkers’ back patio, drinking iced tea and reading a book. The sun was warm and toasty and relaxing, and every time I started to feel that I might be just a little too warm, the breeze would flutter across the patio and cool me off. I’ve been in shorts and t-shirts the last few days, and am completely comfortable.

I know I am romaticizing my life in California big-time. There were reasons why we left. But I have to admit, there are also things about our old life that I loved that I truly miss. It’s nice to have dinner and play cards with our families. I miss them all fiercely. Luckily, my parents will be able to come to Seattle in July for mine and my dad’s birthday, and Washington is beautiful in summertime. I think they’ll really enjoy it.

Last night my parents had a barbeque. My whole family was there, and my mom invited her best friend Debbie and Debbie’s husband Frank. Everyone went and sat outside. Steve, Dad, Paul, and I hid by the grill while the other women in the group gossiped about the royal wedding. I couldn’t really participate, as I’d spent so much time being indignant about the wedding that I knew no details. We also played with Maui, my parents’ boxer. She really likes Paul and kept bringing him a stuffed alligator with a squeaky inside for him to throw across the yard for her.

 I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so much food. Dad grilled chicken and steak, making sure to grill different pieces of steak to various levels of wellness so that everyone would be happy. Paul and I like our meat rather rare, while my sister won’t touch it unless it’s charred. Mom dipped slices of sourdough bread into melted butter and Dad put them on the grill. I love the taste of grilled bread. There was also Mom’s famous (well, in our family anyway) potato salad, beans, salad, vegetables, fruit, cheesecake, and what my sister calls cookie truffles (they’re cookie dough dipped in chocolate). We ate until stuffed, then sat around and talked and snacked on the cookie dough.

I had planned on spending the morning with my brother Steve, but he got called into work last-minute so I spent the morning helping Paul and his parents work in their front yard. Earlier in the week, Paul constructed a border around a large gathering of his mother’s beautiful roses, and now we are putting in pink rock all in the area he enclosed. Before we could spread the rock, we had to put down weed tarp to keep the area from becoming a mess of weeds poking through rock. While his parents unloaded bags of rock from the back of the truck, Paul measured and cut weed tarp and I helped him spread the rocks in each area when he was ready. It felt great to be outside, working. I was hot and sweaty and loving every minute of it.

We ran out of rock way before the project was completed and headed to Lowes for more bags. Back when we were homeowners, Paul and I spent many hours at Lowes while in the midst of different projects. I love Lowes. When I was little, my parents would take us to home improvement stores, and my mom once explained to me that these stores were like Toys R Us for adults. Now, I totally agree. There’s no limit to the wonders of Lowes. When we went there yesterday, I discovered (and snapped a picture of) a large display of pink flamingo yard ornaments.

Today, we got the rock, loaded it into the truck, and took a lunch break at El Pollo Loco. I miss El Pollo Loco! The fresh food tasted so good. I savored each delicious bite. I wish we had those restaurants in Washington.

After lunch we went back to the house, took showers, and headed over to my parents’ house to play pinochle. Years ago, I remember my mom mentioning that she wished she could find people to play pinochle with. She’d tried explaining the game to me, but it sounded complicated. Now, Paul and I both know how to play, his parents taught us, so we were able to play two games. First, Mom and Dad paired up against Paul and me, and we lost. Then Dad and I paired up against Paul and Mom, and we lost. We did pretty well, though, I think. Even though I lost both games I had a lot of fun. Mom has to go back to work tomorrow, and Dad has to leave in the evening to go back to Ojai for work, so we left right before dinner so she could relax and rest and get ready.

We went to see our old house last Saturday. It was so weird, peering in the windows of the place I used to live in. It’s still for sale, still vacant. A lot of the plants in the front yard have died but a lot of them lived, and they look (and smell!) great. I miss living in that house. I don’t hate our townhome in Marysville at all, but it definitely isn’t as grand as that beautiful house. There was definitely a part of me that felt very sad, and I had a pang of wishing we still lived there. Maybe getting out and looking at the house wasn’t a great idea, but I’m not sorry I did it. I know what I left behind. Life’s not about second guessing your choices and living in the past, it’s about accepting the path you’re on and moving forward.

California and Seattle. Being back, I definitely feel torn between the two places. California has our families, great weather, my whole childhood and so many memories. But it also has a terrible economy, no jobs, no way to move forward or do anything different. And Seattle has the opportunities I’ve enjoyed at work, green everywhere, new friends that I have grown to love dearly…..There are good things about both places.

I’m having such a good time being back. Every minute of this vacation has been exactly what I hoped it would be, and I’m sure the next few days will be wonderful as well.

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