From Where I Sit – Back to Real Life

After a two-week vacation in Palm Spring, re-entry into my real life hasn’t been easy. Though Alberta has had a very mild winter, there was still a 25-degree drop in temperature between the time we boarded the WestJet flight and when we landed just three hours later. There was mail to sift through, plants to water, messages to return.

Our entire nuclear family was on vacation in a large rented house. A rental van allowed all of us to travel together if we wanted to. We bought groceries at Albertsons and cooked most of our meals ourselves. Two and a half year old Grady had both freedom and structured routine. We used the pool and the hot tub. We compromised and co-operated?and everyone is still on speaking terms!

A tram ride up the mountain, rounds of minigolf, feeding a giraffe at the Living Desert Zoo, and go-kart rides were some of the planned events. Greg and Carrie golfed many, many of the area’s beautiful courses. Our meals at Lulu California Bistro and Las Casuelas Terraza were memorable. Every day the pace was unhurried.

Months ago we had requested tickets to a taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at the NBC studios in Burbank. The process is long and regimented. We were there a couple of hours before taping and spent a long time in line, moving single file to precise instructions from staffers. Our purses were searched and we had to walk through a metal detector. And yet it was worth it. During Jay’s pre-show chat and photo session with some audience members, he seemed like a nice, regular guy who loves his job and isn’t taking anything for granted. I do wish our email confirmation had warned us that the studio temperature would be sub-Arctic, though, so we could have dressed differently.

Extended quality family time was great. But for most of us, the shopping was even better. Whether it was bargain hunting at Nordstrom Rack in Burbank, strolling the Thursday night street fair in Palm Springs, window shopping in the ritzy shops on El Paseo, visiting Macy’s and JC Penney at Westfield Mall, or browsing the weekend street fair in Palm Desert, there was something for everyone. And there was more time to shop than I’ve ever had had in my life. That in itself is huge.

And then there was Desert Hills Premium Outlets at Cabazon. We were there on three separate occasions, and still I didn’t see it all. We all scored some great deals. Since I had lost 40 pounds in the past six months, my closet needed filling. To bring home a Calvin Klein dress for $27, a Fossil wallet for $20, a Kenneth Cole watch for $35, and a Liz Claiborne dress for $9 did my heart good. Sweaters, tanks, leopard flats, burgundy pumps, brown knee-high boots, and so much more: I’ve got clothes to perform marriages in, clothes to work in, clothes to play in and, oh yeah, clothes to strut in. All I’m taking next time is an empty suitcase, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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