swimming, sunshine and memories

February 22, 2010

Great coffee in PalmĀ  Springs. I’d never have guessed it, but every morning RU and I have walked to Koffi for lattes and americanos that rival Portland’s own. Seriously. That’s one thing about traveling and being kind of addicted to coffee. It’s hard to find great stuff on the road. So Koffi’s a terrific find. Way, way better than the Blue Bottle in SF. And makes the beans in NYC not even worth mentioning.

At first we couldn’t find the place. The guys that run the little hotel where we’re staying had called it coffee with a “k” and that’s literally what RU and I looked for as we drove down Palm Canyon, craning our necks at the signage on either side of the road. We shared a collective “doh” when we finally spotted it. Prices run about the same as in Portland, which tells you something about the Rose City’s cost of living. Anyway, it’s just been this nice, unexpected pleasure to have such good coffee every morning.

I’ve been swimming twice since I’ve been here, which seems almost unbelievable to me. It makes a big difference that the pool is heated, for sure, still, I can’t think of the last time I went swimming outside. I don’t go swimming in Portland in the summer. And any time I’ve been to any of the Oregon beaches the water is too cold for me, even in warm weather. I’ve only swum in the Pacific twice. Once when I was visiting Martha and she took me to this semi isolated beach in Malibu and another time in the Bahia de Banderas when RU and I went to Puerto Vallarta.

The last time I was in a pool though was this time last year, when Kath and I went home to bury Dad. We stayed in the suburbs at a hotel with a pool and I brought my swim suit just in case. I swam on the one night that we didn’t have other things to do. I don’t know why. I wanted to do something normal I think. But it was like trying to take respite in my junior high gym after everyone had gone home for the day — if it had had a pool. It was empty and out of place and I wasn’t sure what I was doing there.

I didn’t plan this trip to coincide with last year’s but it’s ok it turned out that way. It doesn’t make Dad’s dying the way he did any worse or any better, but the sun feels good and I got a slight recharge. Which is a lucky thing because I still need to write a letter to the VA appealing their denial of our application for his death benefits. Fucking bureaucratic bullshit. Something I’ve had little energy to deal with for the last year, but time is running out.

I hadn’t planned on writing about Dad. I had no idea how much his death would become part of my life. I’m not surprised that it has, it just wasn’t something I predicted. For so long he wasn’t really part of my life.

Yesterday, after spending the better part of the day by our hotel pool, Rachel and I went on a self-guided MCM architecture tour that took us from one end of Palm Springs to the other. It was late in the afternoon and we were driving on these wide streets that reminded me more of the midwest than of Portland. Something about the traffic and way the sun was shining made me flashback to a teenage summer evening in Indy, riding in the car with my mom over to my cousin’s, window rolled down, pushing my hand against the air, skin a little sun burnt, chlorine rainbows jumping off everything that was shiny, and there was the faintest smell of coconut oil hanging around me. The impossibly sexy smell.

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