Growing up, I didn’t have “family vacations”. My mom and I spent a lot of days at Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and the beach but we never really traveled too far away and certainly not for any length of time. When I think about “family vacations”, I imagine a week long trip to some exotic new place that no one has ever been to before; filled with quiet, serene days and neon lights in the evening skies. Perhaps I formed that definition because my bff had trips to the Bahamas and the Grand Canyon for her family vacations. They sounded so adventurous and exciting to me. It seemed like every other year they were going to some amazing place that I knew nothing about other than from the glimpses I had seen on tv. It’s funny how life experiences as children shape the definitions we live out as adults.
By the definition above, the family vacation we recently took doesn’t quite qualify as such. We went back to Phoenix. There wasn’t a single thing new to me or unfamiliar in any way- not the traffic, the heat, the destinations, did I mention the extremely dry “your head feels like it is in an oven” heat?! However, there was a huge part of my life that I revisited- one that, frankly, I had forgotten about. The people I stay in touch with and visit are friends made in the last 5 years I was there. But there was a life in Phoenix for 13 years prior to that… and it’s a life I don’t talk about too much.
While Isabel danced west coast swing all day, we drove from our beautifully landscaped, clean resort over to the dilapidated “cars parked on what used to be grass” West Side. I hadn’t been over that way for a long, LONG time. I had the opportunity to spend hours sharing about that part of my life as we drove from one landmarked memory to another. It was freeing to be able to talk about so many things so transparently. There wasn’t anything I said that needed to be shrouded in code or said delicately. Perhaps, it was the first time I really ever said exactly what I thought exactly the way I felt it. After that experience, all I can say is that it is very comforting to be known. I don’t want the whole world to know every bit about me but I do want to be known by my best friend. And I felt known that day.
Though the West Side joy ride was an event unto itself, we really traveled that direction for a far more significant and meaningful reason. We had a surprise to help deliver. The daughter of my dear friend has a boyfriend (who happens to be the son of my dear friend’s best friend…. feeling the soap opera like twist to this?) who at the age of 18 was diagnosed with cancer. It has been a long, grueling battle but he is kicking cancer’s butt! After having just completed his chemo, he got a pass to surprise his girlfriend and visit on the day of her little sister’s birthday party. This was his first time at her house in nearly a year. We had the pleasure of catching the surprise on video.
As a bonus, I caught Miss L in a quiet and still moment during the party. Being the baby of 5, she is very rarely quiet or still. She is nearly two and she definitely has her own mind, thoughts and opinions about things. She is totally precious and everyone is enamored by her. And who wouldn’t be with those squishy cheeks?!
The other five days of the vacation were filled with coffee and dinner dates with friends, a little hike to the Hole in the Rock, shopping in Scottsdale, pool time at the resort and a lot of dancing.
Like every vacation, I enjoyed the time away. It always goes so fast, yet, it is nice to be home. (I was exhausted and I needed a vacation from my vacation. I suppose that somewhat fits the theme of life: go, GO, G-O!) Maybe one day, I will have that fantasy vacation: the one where palm trees sway in the warm breeze while I am fully relaxed and content on the beach by day and dressed to the nines, exploring a new city by night. Until then, I’ll take time with my family when and where I can, spending time with special friends in all too familiar places making the most of we have.
To show your support for Jeremy in his battle with cancer, check out his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GoTeamJeremy