By John Jericiau
We just returned from a last-minute trip to Palm Springs to cap off Spring Break. Yes, I was content to stay home and enjoy the stay-cation and go to all the local activities and play dates that I had planned as part of Camp Daddy. And yes, having to search for and book a hotel room, pack for five, and clean out the minivan was going to add stress to my already stressed schedule. But my husband, hard working as he is and preparing for his medical board exam (a passing grade is required every ten years to keep his medical license), felt that a short trip out of town was just what the doctor ordered. Plus the boys love going on trips and staying in hotels. Also, our nearly five-month old had yet to spend a night in a hotel room. So I quickly hotwired and kayaked until I found a hotel with lots of pool activities and a fun twisty pool slide for the boys, and a workout gym for the fathers, and off we went.
I must admit I was looking forward to the weather. Our beach community refuses to let go of the thick marine layer these days that keeps the temperature in the low 60s, so I did find myself salivating at the 90-degree predictions showing up on my iPhone. Although the days of lounging by the pool, alternating between napping and reading as my skin soaks in the rays of the sun and my tongue laps up an ice-cold drink, were a fantasy right now due to parenthood, it’s still quite enjoyable to hang out by the pool and watch the boys enjoy the things that I used to enjoy.
As I drove my family the 114 miles east to Palm Springs, my thoughts drifted back to all the fun I’ve had there. In the late 80’s and early 90’s my friends and I would spend New Year’s Eve there in sprawling all-gay resorts and hotels, dancing the night away to tunes such as Like a Prayer (Madonna) and Miss You Much (Janet Jackson). One year my physical therapy program at USC offered a short internship at a Palm Springs hospital, so I quickly jumped at the chance to spend the first two weeks of the year in a school-subsidized three-bedroom apartment. I requested an early arrival, as in December 29th, thinking that I could secretly bring my friends along and they could enjoy the apartment with me (and we wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel that year) as we celebrated New Year’s Eve and a few days of after-parties.
My request was granted. “Just pick up the apartment key at the management office down the street from your apartment”, I was told. My plan was working. I would drive my carload of friends to Palm Springs, park around the block from the management office, and run in and collect the key. Then it’s on to partying like it’s 1999, only a whole decade earlier.
The woman at the management office was very nice, giving me advice on where to run and exercise and eat and catch a movie. She removed my apartment key from the top drawer of her desk, but instead of handing it to me she says as she starts heading for the door “Okay, let’s go check out your place. Should you drive or should I?”
“My car is packed with stuff, so can you please drive?” I begged. “Just let me run back to my car for my wallet.”
Despite a puzzled look, she agreed and said to meet her out front in the parking lot where her white Toyota Tercel would be waiting. I sprinted back to my friends in waiting, briefed them on the situation, and told them to follow the Tercel to the apartment where they could park and wait for further instructions from me. I ran back and squeezed into her car as we drove the half-mile to the apartment. We walked up to the front door of the apartment as I glanced behind us and saw my friends park across the street, anxious to start their Palm Springs experience. As the woman slipped the key into the hole to unlock the door, I heard her say, “You’ll have the back bedroom, and your roommate’s name is Josh, a PT student from Colorado.”
Roommate? I had no idea about a roommate. My heart sunk as I thought about my friends outside. I took a brief tour of the apartment and was told Josh would be home from his internship later in the day. I thanked the woman and told her I’d hike back to my car later, since I was a fitness buff. When the coast was clear I collected my compadres and we infiltrated the apartment, all six of us, like bees to their hive. I explained my dilemma but it didn’t appear to faze anyone, as margaritas were already being served in the kitchen. We brought in our suitcases from the car, squeezed into the two remaining bedrooms, and waited for our new roommate to arrive.
Josh arrived to find six sloshed guys who had taken over his space, but since he had just spent the past five weeks bored and alone in the apartment, he was happy to have the company. We all ended up having the best time.
“Daddy! How long until we get there?” a voice yelled in my ear, waking me from my daydream. I looked over at my husband reading on his iPad, back at my boys playing on their Nintendo, and at my new son sleeping away under his blankies, and I realize how much has changed. Not everything, however. I still want a Margarita when I get there, and I still listen to Madonna.