In the Hotel Lobby on a Rainy California Morning

Everyone was going somewhere. My friend C. took her family to the Grand Canyon. B. wrote that they had just come back from a few days in Puerto Rico. My son’s reading coach was on her way to California to visit a beloved niece.

But we were stuck.

I was scrambling to finish some assignments, James trying to juggle the needs and decibel level of four children.

The only surprising thing about this Spring “Break” is that Hesperus, our oldest (11.5), and Etani, our third (7), were actually getting along. When Hesperus gave Etani a hug goodnight, my jaw dropped to my ankles. A spontaneous hug! From Hesperus to Etani? Who put something in the drinking water?

It didn’t help that it’s cold and rainy in Ashland right now. That every time we went to the park 10-year-old Athena (formerly a nature girl) would refuse to put on her shoes, walk as slowly as she could without going backwards, and spend at least ten minutes refusing to play once we got there. That the kids tearing around the house would wake the baby up early from her nap.

Jealousy is an emotion I believe we should pay attention to. That I felt so jealous of everyone going somewhere was a clue that we needed to go away too. It took half a day to locate a rental car (our compact is too small for the whole family and it was too far to bike to California) because the rental car companies in most of southern Oregon are sold out. But we found one at a car dealership 45 minutes out of town, for much less than what it would have cost in Ashland. Etani and James picked it up while I found us an affordable hotel in Vacaville. We loaded up the car (bickering the whole time) and hit the road.

First stop: a hotel with a pool.

Second stop: we’re going on the 40-minute walking tour of the Jelly Belly factory this morning.

Third stop: to see my aunt and uncle in Oakland. (Me: You sure it’s okay? You hate spontaneity. Auntie: Yes, but I love you.)

Etani’s been up since before six a.m., waiting for the sun to rise, waiting for the Jelly Belly factory to open. He and Athena, still in pajamas, and I sneaked downstairs for some breakfast. The baby, James, and Hesperus are still asleep upstairs.

Etani’s pre-adventure report: “There’s lots of jelly beans! And you get to eat them! And I’m really excited about the jelly flops, because they’re misshapen and you get a whole bag for no money at all.”

It’s raining here too. But not so cold. And no, we can’t really afford to be on a trip (thank you Mr. Visa!). But none of that matters. It just feels good to be gone.


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