Do You Remember

The Times Of Your Life

“Few good friends, one great partner, and something I love to do every day, that’s the idea of my little perfect life.” Sarvesh Jain

Driving to a small airstrip in Monterey County, I feel my mouth go dry, not from dehydration but from excitement and possibly frayed nerves. It’s not every day one gets invited to fly in a private plane.

Our friends Claudia and Greg invited us to join them on their corporate plane as we’re all staying with Jan and Pete in the desert this weekend. This particular group of men has known each other for decades. They met on the campus of Santa Clara University back in the ’80s when corduroy was cool, SCU still had a football team, and parties were organized by word of mouth instead of text messages. These young men had something unusual from the start. They trusted each other as if brothers, made their own way in a competitive world, and stayed loyal to each other for over forty years. 

Yes, we’re heading back to the desert, this time Palm Desert, to stay with Jan and Pete at their beautiful home located in the fabulous Bighorn Estates, a gated golf community eleven miles east of Palm Springs.

I can’t help wondering why we’ve visited the desert three times in the last five months. There must be a connection.

It all started with a trip to Death Valley for a fifty-mile tandem ride, then onto Palm Springs for a sixty-mile tandem ride, and now Palm Desert for a little relaxation, golf, and merrymaking. Maybe we’re searching for the elusive fountain of youth. 

Aren’t we all? 

Or could we be learning about real thirst? Maybe searching for environments defined by extremism because that is our current reality. Or are we hoping bouts of barrenness will stimulate our potential? None seem too appealing, but I’ve learned not to ignore the revelations that appear when I write because they often contain a vein of truth. 

And there’s always the possibility that I’m not alone in these quandaries.

Due to the extreme weather in California, our flight is delayed, but let me just say this is not a problem. We’re safe and warm, waiting out the storm in the lobby of this charming airstrip with endless cups of coffee, chips, and cookies. A simple trip to the bathroom proved to be a rather illuminating diversion, and as usual, I’m inclined to overshare.

After slipping through a heavy wooden door marked by a large brass handle, I enter a beautifully adorned room with deep porcelain sinks, automatic facets, private water closets, full-sized mirrors, and ceramic wallpaper (why I didn’t take a picture is beyond me). 

So I walk into one of the private bathrooms, but before I bolt the door, the toilet seat lifts automatically as if in greeting, “Welcome, have a seat.” If that’s not startling enough, hold on to your britches, it gets better.

Of course, I look around because suddenly, I feel as if I am no longer the only entity in the room. When I finally sit down. I’ll be damned. The seat is warm, and let me just say the tush is happy. On the wall next to me is a rectangular device designed to work the more intricate features of this extraordinary pissoir. With the simple pressing of a button, the toilet emits a stream of water that will pulsate, surge, or spurt on command, and it can even blow dry your privates if that is your preference. I’m not kidding. After a half hour, they sent in a search and rescue team.

I yelled through the bolted door, “I’m busy.”

When I finish my business, the toilet flushes and closes its lid without my assistance. Holy moly. If I ever win the lottery, this will be my first purchase.

When I emerge from my day at the toilet spa, relaxed and refreshed, we are joined in the lobby by another vibrant couple, also delayed by rain, and the six of us wait out the storm in pleasant banter. They’re headed to Arizona for spring training, both with computers glued to their laps and hilarious stories to share. 

I’ve revisited the facilities so many times people are becoming suspicious, but after several hours, with no let-up in the weather, everyone is getting antsy. Larry and Greg decide to venture out in search of food, returning thirty minutes later with a large bag of burritos, just as the pilot approaches us with good news. 

The weather has suddenly cleared, and the pilot quickly shepherds us onto the awaiting plane, not wanting to miss this narrow window of opportunity. I want to ask how narrow, but I keep those thoughts to myself. Regardless, we’ll be enjoying our burritos at 27,000 feet, with killer views. 

It felt wrong not having time to bid my bidet goodbye, but farewells are rarely pleasant, and I imagine her AI system has limited emotional intelligence. I’m not sure who said, “don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” I wholeheartedly agree.

We pile into a luxurious but small plane and settle ourselves into our seats. My dad utilized the GI bill and learned to fly small planes when I was young. Our family enjoyed flying all over the state to visit relatives in single-engine planes. So when the pilot came back to explain about the turbulence we would encounter, I knew what to expect and double-checked my shoulder strap.

In a little over an hour, we land in Palm Desert, shaken but not stirred. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being back in a small plane, gliding over the lush landscape of California, and observing the world from a vantage just above the clouds. 

Pete is waiting at the airstrip to collect us, and we are whisked off to Bighorn. All I can say is let the commencement of a much anticipated weekend begin.

Their home is spacious and inviting, with high ceilings, muted colors, and spaces that encourage relaxation and conversation. There are two pools, one overlooking the golf course and one in their lush courtyard with a fireplace, group seating, and access to a charming casita. Jan settles us into our rooms, and we have just enough time to unpack our cases and freshen up for dinner.

It appears that deep conversations, excellent cuisine, a round of drinks, and laughter are our ice-breakers this evening, and we slip back into our familiar relationship as if no time has passed. 

Now my husband may have slipped a little too far back in time, feeling as if he is nineteen again. He ended the evening performing an impressive cannonball in the front pool. What he didn’t expect was the temperature of the water. Freezing. His exit was even more impressive. 

Saturday, the ladies are attending the BNP Paribas Tennis Open at Indian Wells while the men play several rounds of golf and have lunch at the clubhouse. We won this round, hands down.

A charming woman named Mary Ann will be joining us as her husband Dennis will be golfing with our men. I, myself, have never attended a major tennis event, but I went with no agenda, and of course, I was as happy as Larry (this is a phrase from the 1800s based on the Australian boxer Larry Foley who never lost a match). And yes, I will be overusing it now that I have been so enlightened. 

What we didn’t expect was the horrific traffic that forced us to inch our way to the stadium. Once we squeezed through the arched gates and pulled up to valet parking, it was a breeze. Only clear plastic purses are allowed in the facility. We had to pass through metal detectors and drug-smelling dogs before making our way to the box. 

Once inside the stadium, we are escorted into a lounge-type room by a darling woman named Sema, who represents the bank that is hosting the event. With all the unrest about the meltdown of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, you can imagine the gist of our conversations today. Sema was a gracious hostess and kept us focused on the match.

The luxurious box is furnished with comfortable couches, tables and chairs, a private bar, and an extraordinary buffet. I’m like a kid in a candy shop, and I overload my plate with lobster rolls, slices of steak, baked salmon, one grilled vegetable (because I want to appear healthy), a few slices of cheese (with honey), and a glass of champagne to wash it all down. 

Yes, I’m feeling like an imposter, and now I’m rethinking my cropped pants and simple black blouse. People are seriously gussied up for this event. I don’t even have a swanky bracelet or posh tattoo. It is interesting to me to observe the extremes I’m encountering this weekend, not only wealth, but fashion, lifestyle, and prestige. But I decide there is no sense in worrying about the things I have no control over, so I relax, and try to enjoy this rare opportunity.

We bring our laden plates out to the stadium seats. There is a narrow shelf to hold your grub, some inviting shade, and a pleasant breeze wafting through the stands. Thank God for Mary Ann, who not only painstakingly explains how the scoring works but the purpose of the line judge, all those ball kids, and the hidden nuances of the game while I lick my plate clean.

I watch with horror as the number one seeded woman demolishes her opponent. I admit, I’m a little miffed at Igga for not taking it easy on poor Clair (who only won one match in the entire series), but I suppose that is why I am not a pro athlete, well, that, and a lack of talent. 

When I return to the lounge to use the facilities, refresh my drink, and load up on some sushi provided by Nebo, I run into an old friend. I am shocked to find Bidet leaning against the wall of the bathroom as if she’d been waiting for me, boldly lifting her lid and welcoming me onto the warm seat. Am I dreaming?

Or is God trying to reward me for my stellar behavior? Well, I don’t think I’m asleep, so…

The next match is the men’s team, two USA players, both ranked, both vying for the win so they can continue climbing the brackets. Let me just get this off my chest. Men’s tennis is a totally different game than women’s. The volleys are twice as long, the speed on the ball is twice as fast, and they literally slam the ball back and forth across the court as if shot from a gun. I’m feeling sorry for the little fluorescent ball. 

Our man Taylor won, both opponents were good, and every match was close, but Taylor was on his game tonight. 

The next time I enter the lounge for refreshments, I find Chris Evert standing in the middle of the room, looking like an absolute stud. Did you hear me? CHRIS EVERT. Her arms are like small pistons, tight build, seriously, nothing on this woman jiggles. She looks as if she’s forty-five instead of sixty-eight.

Evert was the number one women’s tennis player in the world for a decade or two during the 80s and 90s. She was on the cutting edge of women’s sports, a frickin hero to thousands of women athletes, and here she is telling us what it was like to be a top competitor on the women’s circuit. The excitement in the room is palpable. 

Evert tells us how the entire women’s team was crucial in changing the opportunities for women who wanted to compete professionally, but Evert claims Billy Jean King was the driving force in this historic movement. 

She told us about warming up on the courts with her rivals before matches. She spoke about the powerful influence of her father (a tennis pro) and the dedication it took to stay on top. Evert was an absolute delight. When she opened up the room to questions, of course, someone asked about her thoughts on allowing trans women to compete on the women’s circuit.

Chris says, “Who let that guy in? I’m kidding. I’m going to respond as honestly as I can.”

Silence fills the room, but she doesn’t shy away from the question and starts with a biology lesson, she says, “when a male goes through puberty, his muscles develop differently than females, his heart is larger, and his lung capacity is greater than that of a woman. Even when they transit to a woman, they retain some of these physical abilities. So it’s not a fair match for a woman to play a trans woman. An amateur male tennis player can beat a top-ranked woman on sheer strength.” 

She shared a few more thoughts on tennis, women, and the importance of consistency, a strong serve, and endurance to become a top player. I could have chatted with her all night. What an unexpected blast from the past, but that seems to be what this weekend is all about.

As the sun is setting and the hosts are preparing the room for dinner in support of the evening matches, we decide it is time to head home. 

After returning to the house, we’re surprised to find Mike in the living room, he drove in from the coast to join the fray (another Santa Clara grad) and will be staying the night. We enjoy a fabulous dinner at a local restaurant and close the night out with a round of old fashions at the clubhouse bar. 

It’s a fairytale world, and I keep wondering when my coach is going to turn back into a pumpkin.

On our final day, the men head out early for a few rounds of golf, and the ladies stay in their pajamas all day. We catch up on our kids, our lives, and current interests, but our most beloved conversations focused on relationships, courageous conversations, Hula Hoops (that’s for another blog), and the importance of love. I devoured at least three cups of coffee, some delicious avocado toast, and sage advice from Claudia and Jan. Nicole Yatsonsky says your truest friends are the ones who will stand by you in your darkest moments–because they’re willing to brave the shadows with you–and in your greatest moments–because they’re not afraid to let you shine. I love that about these women who I have known and admired for more than half my life. 

As our plane is making its final descent, I feel as if the ground is rising to meet me instead of the other way around. And for this reason, coming home can be disorienting. There’s a shift that happens between the going and coming that is hard to define, but we’re not the same people we were when we ascended into the heavens only days ago. I suppose it is because experience is efficacious. There is no fountain of youth, we’re aging all the time, but I’ve discovered something about thirst in the desert.

Thirst is real, and I would say it’s crucial in our quest toward satiation. Like Evert says, you need strength, consistency, and endurance to stay on top of your game. And, like it or not, we live in a world of extremes. The weather in California is reflective of this truth, and so it is with faith, politics, and economics. There will always be someone more fashionable, wealthy, and accomplished than me, but that is not the point of life. I believe we all have a purpose, and figuring out why I’m here is how I become a gift, instead of a burden. Sometimes it takes periods of barrenness to figure it out, and sometimes, it’s simply an entire day lounging in pajamas with dear friends. I actually love coming home, and I think that is what faith is all about, that you are always in the process of coming home, but never without one. 

I’m Living in the Gap, glad to be home, love to hear about your weekend.

I did a podcast, linked here if you want to listen.

Link to Amazon if you want to order Grow Damn It from Jeff.

Or Link to Books Inc. at The Pruneyard.

Also available at Black Rose Writing here.


Leave a Comment

  1. A fairytale world indeed, and far removed from my life.
    (Though I attended Wimbledon many times, but only in my capacity as an EMT. And I’m not even a tennis fan.)
    Okay, so you have a new career, selling ‘Spa Toilets’. Sign me up as your first sale! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was truly an enchanting place Pete, lots of fun, and coming home to my own reality made me even more appreciative for such a unique experience. I really enjoyed the tennis matches, but I would have enjoyed watching mud wrestling from such exquisite box seats! And now I found my true calling, selling toilets! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You bring stories to life and I feel like I was sitting Ono your couch with as you told me about your lovely trip!
    Now with that being said, I AM JEALOUS!!!! You have amazing friends, traveling in the most classiest of way, eating fantastic food and with toasty buns. I mean how can life get in better than that! After hearing about your weekend I refuse to tell you about mine. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, Belladonna, what fun we would have sharing stories on my couch! It was an incredible weekend, a lifestyle I’m not normally accustomed to, but willing to enjoy when the opportunity presents itself. And now I get to snuggle up with warm memories from my own reality. I imagine your weekends are filled with laughter and love, doesn’t get better than that. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It reminds me of a beautiful marble bathroom at a hotel we stayed in in Dublin. It was massive, had the biggest tub I’ve ever seen, ceiling to floor mirrors in gold frames, and a lovely little bidet I named Brigette. Like you, I didn’t really want to leave the bathroom!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s been a while since I’ve figured out how to get back on the reader. And I’ve missed your posts. This one, though different from the house remodeling ones I remember, reminded me why I love them. I will read your archives to see how the house turned out. I assume no bidet, yet…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cynthia, it has been a while, so good to hear from you! I think the last post I read of yours, you were relocating to a new home! I assumed you’re settled and thriving! Thank you for your kind words. I have to say the remodel turned out great. Every morning I walk around with my coffee and I’m enormously grateful! Hope you pop back in the comments again, I’ve missed you. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow – amazing story to see Chris Evert! And I love how you wove in her message of strength, consistency and endurance into this lovely post. One more thing – also a team. And I’m grateful for this inspiration from you which reminds me that we are all part of a great team!!

    Welcome home and happy weekend, Cheryl!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chirs Evert was a huge surprise, she was posed, well spoken, and very personable! When asked about what it takes to be number one, she said, “strong serve, consistent return, endurance,” and of course you have to be able to think on your feet. I thought it sounded like something Brene Brown would say! But your right, we’re all part of a great team so we don’t have to be all things, all the time to survive! Home sweet home, it’s good. Have a wonderful weekend Wynne, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great time! And, of course, you deliver it all with your signature ‘right in the moment, up close and personal’ style that defines your prose!

    Oops. . . maybe I shouldn’t have written “up close and personal”. . . Awe, hell, you know what I mean.

    Thank you for inviting us all along for this awesome weekend neighbor. If this was written about your day on Saturday, the 11th? Terrie and I were just up the road in Palm Springs! We decided to stop for lunch at a spot in old town P.S. we had heard a lot about on our way to the ‘OC’ for Shannon’s bridal shower Tea in San Juan Capistrano on Sunday. Sigh, I had to miss that estrogen-filled funfest though, as I got invited (saved???) to go golfing with the groom and Shannon’s future father-in-law instead. Poor me 😉
    From a casual view of the other comments, apparently, every woman on the planet holds your fun-filled Bidet encounters (adventures???) as a highlight of your writings for the weekend as well! All in all, a very nice read.

    I hope you get invited again next year too, in hopes of getting to read more about it, but that would be a story for a different ‘ba’ day, wouldn’t it?

    Ha ha 😉



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris, you are hysterical! “That would be a story for a different ‘ba’ day.” Brillant! And yes, it was the same weekend, you could have joined us had we known you and Terrie were in town! Sounds like you had a full schedule with bridal showers, high tea, and golf. I have to say, Palm Springs and Palm Desert are growing on me. It was wonderful to enjoy warmer weather, sunshine, and no rain for a few days. Not to mention all the restaurants and shopping. What an incredible little oasis in the middle of the desert. I could get used to that whole life style but I’m always happiest at home sweet home. Hugs, C


  6. I loved hearing about your desert experience. Big Horn is gorgeous! I did experience a toilet like the one you described. It was at a breakfast/lunch tiny restaurant in San Francisco! My son was having surgery and his girlfriend and I went to breakfast while we waited for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This sounds like such a perfect trip and I love your reference by Nicole Yatsonsky. Having an amazing trip and sharing with friends is the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. First of all, I had to look up pissoir. I thought you’d made it up lol I had my own adventures in pissoir when I visited Japan for two weeks. Their toilets are ah-mazing.

    Also, Chris (flippin) Evert???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahaha, you thought I made that up! I have never been to Japan and now I have a reason to visit! I know, CHRIS, she looked fabulous and was so well spoken, I sort of wanted her autograph but it seemed out of place! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

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