For the past ten years or so, whenever we needed to escape town, or were finding an itch to scratch for adventure, or in need of some serious R&R, we would hightail it out to Palm Desert. My in-laws have owned some sort of a home out there for as long as I can remember, and in so many ways, the desert for me has become a place to chase down the calm I needed and the space to breathe.
Trips out there have taken on different flavors over the years. Some trips have been loud. Crank up the music the moment we hit the door, jump in the pool, blend up a batch of margarita’s. And some, especially as we have brought our girls out there over the past couple years, have begun to look different. Early mornings, scheduled feedings, nap times, bike rides, bbq’s, and bedtimes routines.
Whether its been loud, or quiet, or loud 24/7 now because we have kids, getting out on the road, getting out of town, and high-tailing it down the 91 means adventure awaits. On the way out, in the car, you can feel the anticipation, were all buckled in, packed with things all around, stuffed next to coolers and blankets and baby toys. I sometimes sit smushed between the girls, entertainment to the two in the back. Other times, I get to ride shot gun, iced latte in one hand, playing DJ with the other.
Sometimes its chaos in the car, and sometimes calmness. Either way, its always worth it, and the minute I see the outlets I know we have under an hour to go. Once we pass the windmills I know were even closer, and we both start to make phone calls, arrange plans, let friends or family know were almost there. Exiting the highway gets me giddy, and I usually beg Jordan to role down the windows. Anything to feel the hot, dry air on my skin, to taste the desert wind on my lips.
The dreaminess of the desert, after all these years, captivates me still. The freshness of the early morning, the brilliant blue sky, the vibrant colors of the flowers, the smell of the sprinklers watering the grass for the millionth time that day. Early some mornings, I lace up my shoes, and run the roads and white-picket-fence paths nearby. Its super flat, and it makes me want to go a million miles. I crank up my tunes, and watch the sun hit the hills and bounce off the ground. The sun is rising, and my eyes catch palm tree after palm tree that I pass, as I begin to pound the pavement.
Something, whether it be food or drink is always being shaken or stirred. New recipes are hatched, meals that take a little longer are being attempted, my knife cutting into a berry, a tomato, a piece of cheese, or chopping up basil for caprese or a cocktail.
The pool is always warm, the temperature seems to match the air. Books always litter the chairs, magazines too. Journals, pens, and paper seem to always take up residence near my space. And this last visit out, Samantha seemed to play DJ more than anyone else. Let it Go was on repeat per usual.
Under that desert sun, and under the roof of that home, what’s created is time. Time moves slower in the desert. Maybe its the heat, or the way the sun hits the mountains as it sets, but time takes on a sacred element in that space.
Dusk feels like it could go on for years. We sit in the pool, and time seems to slow. The sprinklers go off, the music by late afternoon always moves to something more mellow. The intense afternoon sun is starting to fade, and I feel my shoulders start to burn a bit. Its time to start wrapping up, I can feel it in my bones, the babes need food, and dinner needs to begin.
But for those brief extra moments, I steal some time in the dusk of the desert. I close my eyes, dive under the water, and there I am again, a kid myself, floating away to another space. The water forces me to slow, I can hear the melody of the music above, and I allow myself to stay underneath the surface. Time has been stilled, and I catch it.
Extra time. A far away space. The chance to rest and reset. The desert gives all. After all these years of heading out, I know without a shadow of doubt that when we carve out the time to go, we create space for memories, for moments that we get to pack in our pockets for years to come.
We tune out. We turn off. Its one big family time-out.
And here is the thing, after all these years, after all these memories made, I am realizing the depth the desert holds in my heart. The impact the desert has had on me is more than just the sun on my skin. And I hope that for our girls as well, that the desert will always be a home away from home, a place to rest, and reset.