We were tossed into retro romance the instant the Tang-colored door swung open and swallowed our tired bodies. Once our eyes adjusted to the brightness, we were surrounded by bold. There were the paisley bolster pillows for our backs, the purple and orange striped carpets for our feet, and slick, red plastic chairs for our booties.
Beyond our room, through the glass, those could have been tropical waters reflected in the turquoise sky. But once we slid the door open and stepped onto our balcony, the cool Northern California February breeze pinched our skin.
Still, we didn’t immediately go back into the heated room. That view held our dream of being dipped into warm waters like strawberries into melted chocolate. As if on cue, that’s when we noticed the hot tub below.
But this was not a romantic getaway. Yes, I shared a bed, but there was no nudity outside of the shower. There was no kissing, outside of playful pecks. There was no arousal, even though I’d hoped for a juicy dream. This was a weekend with my mother and two boys in Santa Cruz. We’ll call it a consolation vacation because my mind was preoccupied with snow and skiing. It was Ski Week after all. My boyfriend and his kids and me and my kids were separated by 200 miles, 6,225 feet in elevation, and circumstance.
I didn’t really want the thick coats and ice scrapers of Tahoe—at least that’s what I kept telling myself while we debated a walk on the beach versus a swim in the chlorine. I hate that my son’s medical diagnosis crops my map and makes mountains off limits unless accompanied by an oxygen tank. So I exercised my credit card and splurged on views and heated pools and hot tubs. Those high-thread count sheets, down pillows, and snow-white duvets softened the emotional toll of being stuck at sea level.
My family didn’t know that they didn’t get to go to Tahoe. No one complained that they played in the sand instead of the snow. No one complained that they soaked in a hot tub at a hotel with lime accents and veneer next to the salty ocean instead of in one at a cabin with floral wallpaper and wood paneling next to a clear lake.
But it was so darn romantic. “It’s like being on my honeymoon,” my mom said.
“Then I must be a disappointment,” was my snarky reply. Although what I meant was I wished we were there under different circumstances.