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My pretend life

Round about 2 p.m. this afternoon, I’m coming back to my real life.

For the last two days, I’ve just been pretending.

Last June, my choral group sang at the yearly fundraiser for New Music Works, the Avant Garden Party. The AGP started in the yard of my former wonderful neighbor Lou Harrison, a composer of international stature, and his partner Bill Colvig. Our other neighbor, George, made their yard into a small paradise of cascading flowers and dappled light. After first George, then Bill, and finally Lou stepped off this mortal coil, Lou’s properties were sold and demolished. Now we have two neighbors with big, fancy new homes and little idea of the history underneath their feet.

Last year’s AGP took place in a different unusual Santa Cruz garden, and on a beautiful day of cascading flowers and dappled sunshine coming through the trees, we sang and listened to other performances as supporters of New Music Works strolled the grounds, drank wine, and bid on silent auction items.

We hiked up a canyon filled with wildflowers, the chirping of birds, and the clicking of insects

We hiked up a canyon filled with wildflowers, the chirping of birds, and the clicking of insects

That’s where my pretend life comes in. I have a method with silent auctions. I go to all the gift certificates for local stores that I go to anyway. I bid up to the full amount for the gift certificate. That way, I break even and my favorite organizations get the 20 bucks I would have spent anyway. I am always grateful to our local stores who donate, and it makes me all the more loyal to them.

So on that lovely day I moved slowly through the auction items. At one that I would never have bid on on any normal day, I paused. Two nights in a gorgeous inn in Calistoga. One of NMW’s board members was standing nearby. “That’s a fabulous deal,” she said. “That’s worth thousands — that place is fantastically expensive.”

The minimum bid was way above what I should be spending on anything, especially given that my husband had been doing month-by-month contract work. However, he was in the process of negotiating a full-time job (with benefits!), and I was feeling sentimental. Two days away being adults. And he’d have paid vacation time. What a concept.

“Really,” the board member said, “That starting bid is so low, and I’m sure other people will bid on it.”

Oh, why not? I put down the lowest bid possible and moved on.

The next day I got the phone call from another board member. “I’m calling to tell you of your good fortune,” she said.

“Oh, no,” I said, “I didn’t get that vacation package, did I?”

“You are so lucky!” she said. “That place is gorgeous and you got it at a fabulous price.”

I planned to give it to my husband as a congratulations on getting the job. Then the negotiations dragged on, and by the time he was settled into the new job, school had started and everything was just So Complicated. Finally, I ended up giving him the gift certificate for his birthday. I found a couple of days that would work with our schedules, our kids’ schedules, and my mom’s schedule.

I always say that running two kids’ lives makes you qualified to run a large corporation. I think scheduling two days away without our kids qualifies me to be something like the White House Social Secretary! I put together a combination of family, friends, and babysitter. As far as I know, all went well. Even the fact that my son couldn’t find his rain jacket and was going on a fieldtrip this morning. After a frantic phone call, I suggested that he call a friend to see if he had an extra. I received a text (my son has learned how to text!) minutes later: problem solved.

This place where we spent the last three days really is the most wonderful place I’ve ever stayed, and in my younger days I stayed at a few fabulous places. We have our own couple of cabanas linked by a deck built around mature evergreens. The cabanas are close together, but we hardly know if anyone else is here. We walk up to breakfast past a pond with ducks, and yesterday, a great blue heron. No cars are allowed on the property, so the quiet is only broken by the hum of electric carts.

Our little pretend life came equipped with wine, crackers and dip, and other amenities, all included. We swam in the pool. We hiked up the canyon on private trails. We tasted wine at local wineries. We ate at some lovely restaurants, including the charming little Cook Restaurant last night.

It was a fun little pretend life. I have to say, we don’t have the money to stay here again, but I it’s worth the price. Sometimes there’s nothing better than getting away from the parenting life and remembering who you really are.

In the last three days, no one has told me I’m mean, no one has thrown anything at me, and no one has cried when I told him he couldn’t use the computer. It’s been a blissful escape.

Now we get back into the car and drive toward reality.

The rain pours down and washes my pretend life back into the pond.

Posted in Parenting.


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