I texted this photo to Chris, saying, "I'll meet you on the Johnson stairs!" This was where we shamelessly flirted our junior year of college, as I left Victorian Lit and he was on his way to German. It took a long, long, LONG time to get that first date.
Fauntie Nanners sent home Minnie Mouse ears in anticipation of next year. I promised I'd bring Charlotte to California in 2014. And we'll do Disneyland.

So, this past weekend, I took a weekend--a long weekend, I suppose--trip to L.A. to see my SoCal peeps and GET OUT OF MARYLAND.

In the days of my youth, I attended college in L.A. (Occidental College), and there I met a few of my BFFs, not to mention a dude named Chris.

I hadn't been out of Maryland-DC-Virginia in well over a year, what with saving all that precious vacation time for birthing and caring for my sweet Lorelei and all. This trip was needed, and I realized . . . I was weaning Lorelei. Surely, SURELY I could escape for a couple days, right?

So, I did, and it proved a good move. As the town car pulled away from my dwelling, I told myself to relax: vacation had started.

Of course, a derecho was supposed to occur right when my plane took off. They grounded us for about a half hour and  then let us take off during the so-called storm. That derecho = some rain. That was all.

I took advantage of the long flight and NOBODY NEEDING ME for squat, and I read. I read and read and read. My friend Lauren greeted me in L.A. with a big, hot pink sign (no, seriously), and we lunched in Malibu, right on the ocean. Because that's WHAT YOU DO in Southern California.

I realize that Maryland is hardly an inland flyover state, but I feel way too far away from bodies of water here. I mean, yeah, there's the murky Potomac, but . . . I need waves and sand, or Lake Washington or Puget Sound. One of my life's goals is to retire to a bungalow on a beach, hurricanes be damned.

I loooooooove California. I just do. I loved it as a little girl, a college girl, and now as a boring suburban mom. I. Love. California.

Chris, of course, sees it as a financial disaster and state spending gone totally awry. Ah, well. Whatever.

Next, we met our girl Nancy ("Nanners" for the rest of this post) at a cool bar in Montrose, and I basked in the fact I was someplace where a stroller would be totally inappropriate.

On Saturday, we exploited Nanners's company's corporate rate for the oh so awesome Langham Hotel, an enormous ritzy hotel nestled in Pasadena, and essentially got a $500 room for . . . . waaaaaaaaaaay less than that.

I. Loved. This. Hotel. It was decorated in the exact palate and style I picked out for our formal living room, should our children ever enter public school and free up the funds to properly decorate: peaches, yellows, corals, olive greens. Oh, and I informed Chris we'll be doing some re-wiring to allow for the installation of a couple vintage chandeliers I OBVIOUSLY need now. I just loved the style--vintage Pasadena swank. Crystal chandeliers and hoity-toitiness without old ladyness or frump. Speaking of old ladies: We passed a sassy elderly woman, clad in hot pink, slowly pushing herself forward. "This hallway didn't seem so long when I was younger!" she joked, and we laughed with her. She obviously concluded we were in the midst of a girls' weekend, and she smirked and insisted we have a grand time. She was just adorable.

The hotel room had FOUR sets of arched French doors that let out onto a wrap-around terrace, where (duh) we had evening cocktails. We hit the pool, got frilly drinks, and even did high tea, in which I'm quite certain we got drunk on . . . sugar. Those tiny, dainty desserts? Insane.

We spent A LOT of time in Pasadena, hanging out, going to restaurants and bars that were definitely not there when I went to college, but whatever. Oh, and I didn't get carded a single time. Huh.

Obviously, we HAD to visit our alma mater, and though I've returned to my precious college many times since graduating 9 years (oh dear lord) ago, this was the first time I had done so as a mommy. It was trippy. On one hand, I felt myself slipping into the college version of myself, carefree except for papers to write, being perpetually broke, and having no clue what the future held. Okay, so maybe not TOTALLY carefree. But I was so very happy at Oxy.

On the other hand, I saw Oxy through a nostalgic lens, hoping and dreaming (and then feeling guilty for my parenting agenda) about one (or both!) of my girls attending Oxy some day. I totally see how parents fall into the trap of "Well, I went to Yale. You should, too!" (Or, in my family, "I went to Westmont. You can go to a state school . . . . or Westmont!" Thank goodness for a mom who had the crazy notion a girl can pick her own college.) I freely admit it: I would LOVE for one of my kids to attend Oxy. I just loved it, and I want them to have an equally awesome college experience.

As if that wasn't enough emotional conflict, I also felt the stirrings of my pre-mommy, pre-working stiff self. I so missed the days where what came out of my brain and hard work was objectively judged and MINE (and therefore worthwhile), rather than fixing what others write. I felt some disappointment in that now my days are 99% filled with grunt work, and even then, someone is likely to find fault with it. Charlotte doesn't like how I slice her strawberries, Lorelei is peeved I'm wiping her nose, Chris is irritated one of his running shirts went through the dryer, thank you cards for x, y, or z are late, authors come unglued over . . . . pretty much anything, others find a screwed up reference in 650 pages of text and HOW DID THAT SLIP BY?!, and you realize . . . . you were an incredibly naive, possibly stupid little girl, thinking you'd be doing meaningful work in your 30s. That you'd feel confident in your child-rearing or your paycheck-earning.

Being grown-up  . . . . well, it's a bitch.

So, all this swirled around my brain at Oxy, as I descended familiar steps and walked familiar routes. Yes, there was a an unsettled "I sold out" feeling, but every little thing that was different--a building, ramp, gate--jostled me out of my College Ashley mentality, it being new and unfamiliar, thus reminding me that I was not in college any more, I was a grown-up now, reminding me . . . of Charlotte and Lorelei. 

I missed my (little) girls, and though I was bummed to leave L.A., I was so very glad to have them, plus my guy, to come home to. On the long flight home, I looked down on clouds and pondered. Despite the distinct feeling of having sold out my, oh I don't know . . .  ambition, talents, creativity . . . . for stability (i.e., jobs in a dicey economy) and children, I felt unexpectedly okay about it. I had this deep feeling that THIS is temporary, so just embrace it and enjoy it. My girls are 3 and 8 months. Of course they're needy and dominate . . . everything. My career is still very young and is in an industry (publishing) undergoing major change and shrinking job options. Of course it has its sucky moments. In short, I felt like all was okay. Right now is for Charlotte and Lorelei. I'll get my chance.


My plane landed in Maryland, and I felt giddy that I'd soon see my girls. In baggage claim, we were gleefully reunited. Charlotte screeched "MOMMY!" and ran the entire length of the BWI baggage claim and into my arms, which was one of the most gratifying moments of my life. She clung to me like a monkey, and the littler one smiled coyly and then laid her head on my shoulder. Oh, and I had my Chris--and on Father's Day! I joked that my Father's Day gift to him was that I came back home.

I needed a short break from the daily grind, but my. What a daily grind to come back home to. Back to it, then. Onward!


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