Since last I left my “public” so much has happened in my life I think I qualify for Type AAA mom. And I’m not talking auto club.
Three months ago my husband and I, sans kids, finalized closing plans on two houses—one in New Yawk and the other in Tucson, Arizona. Yes, Tucson, Arizona. Geographically and diametric opposites in topography, climate, population over-growth, loud lawn mowers and snotty attitudes.
Now, I’m not saying that ALL New Yorkers have snotty attitudes. Just the natives. Especially around tourist season time. Which, lately, seems to run ‘round-the-clock, thanks to a diminishing return on our good ole’ American dollar compared to European and Eastern currency. So it’s not just the Germans wearing leather shorts, white socks and sandals that will annoy, it’s the camera-toting, uh, every other cultural persuasion that has invaded our city-that-will-not-die.
And after too many years fighting the commuting crowd, paying exorbitant tolls, wear-and-tear on cars, etc., my hub Lew bagged his New York Times editor position and I merely switched freelancing from East to West coasts. The kids? Time for a confession. My kids, raised by their father (okay, I’m the mother, but it helps me to pretend I’m far younger than my driver’s license would have you believe).
But with the right lighting and after 4 p.m. I can pull off a late 30s demeanor. As in 30-12. Enough about me. So not only did we have to contend with closing on two coasts, scrambling for boxes from assorted outlets (don’t get boxes that held food stuff, trust me on that. And then BAM. I get hit with another life-stressor.)
Four days after Mother’s Day, my mom died. Yes, she lived an amazingly long life and was her-old-self until the end. Meaning complaining about everything, especially the Philadelphia humidity. In fact, I spoke with her the day before she passed and told her those three words that helped me get through. I told her “I love you.” And just like that, the next day she was gone.
All past transgressions far removed, forgiven and stored away. Yet, this added emotional stress put so much tension on my typically frenetic personality, I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Wouldn’t you? By some amazing twist of fate (thank you Bob Dylan) our daughter Emily (yes, she’s out of the house and living in California, another reason for the Westward trek) had surprised me with the best gift on Mother’s Day: she along with dad and bro Ben sneakily planned to bring her home. Seeing here was one of the best shocks my system could hold.
Here’s the weird-Karma part—she was with me when I got “the” call about my mother. If Emily hadn’t been there to hold me and comfort me, I would have been alone except for Maggie, our pound rescue pup. Good dog, but not great with saying the right things.
So, Emily became my mother and the full circle closed. It was eerie and special, for which I will be eternally grateful. Afterwards, the house snafus seemed less and less important, although the banks played with our heads a lot. Just the New Jersey branch (don’t ask) which almost ruined our life by not transferring a bank check.
Moving, such a joy! So, rather than do a massive roadtrip with Lew, Emily, Maggie and as much stuff you could cram into our little Nissan. Me, not so brave. I flew out and created a humongous hotel bill waiting for the house to be ready.
I was so stressed out, I immediately checked out some local spa/resorts. Because that’s my “other” job, writing for spa-related magazines and travel venues. Hey, someone has to do it, right?
Here’s what I discovered: summer in Tucson is nearly unbearable, except for the adage that happens to be true: “It’s a dry heat.” Except this summer, the traditionally not-so-humid “monsoon” season (which just means it rains almost every day, evaporates and produces some cool thunderstorms and lightning shows.
Another aside: another reason for our move is this chronic nerve pain I suffer from thanks to a speeding bicyclist who crashed into me, causing my skull to crash into the street. Resulting in my lovely 6-year relationship with chronic pain. Anyhoo, after a half-dozen trips to Arizona and miraculously having the pain disappear, my doc and I agreed we needed to move or pack it in.
By the way, doctors will be thrilled to prescribe heavy duty “pain-killers” that never worked on me. I just became a zombie-writer, usually found in an air conditioned room tightly wound in a fetal position.
So, Tucson was inevitable and it took four years of careful planning. Unfortunately, the summer’s humidity has triggered the chronic pain once again, so my quest for wellness spas began in earnest even before our address changed.
And, while summer in Arizona keeps the tourists away, it provides some incredible opportunities for the locals. Of which, I proudly boast, I am one.
So, for all you fellow type-a moms (regardless of your kids’ ages) let me suggest an easy alternative to endless drives to “educational” outings or summer camp. Find a resort nearby and troll the internet for some fabu rates. For example, one resort I found, not far from my home-to-be, called Westward Look Resort not only has incredible deals (the West is soooooo much cheaper than the East, btw) but accommodations and spa services that helped me through this tense, stressed-out transition.
The food was amazing, not too fancy-schmancy but plentiful, the ground astounding: views of mountains and desert all over the place; swimming pool and even kids’ activities to get them out of your hair while you’re at the spa.
And if you’re brave enough to chance a summer vacay in the West, the deals will amaze you. And get this: one morning I awoke and watched a BOBCAT stroll under my balcony! It was so amazingly beautiful, I cried. Ok, maybe my nerves were a little on edge. But come on, when’s the last time some wildlife cruised your hotel? It wasn’t threatening or threatened, and made me believe in the possibility that mankind will come to its sense and REALLY protect wildlife and the environment, much to the dismay of 43.
This resort helped create a safe haven for me, a time when I needed relaxation and a stress-free experience the most. I got it. Check out the web and the deals. It’s not too late—many airlines are cutting flight costs considerably. Especially when you check out a site like Bestfares.com, although those can be annoying, too.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few other resorts with extra incentives, especially for families. El Conquistador resort served as base for most of my stay and the site couldn’t be on more gorgeous property. I didn’t see any Bobcat, but plenty of unusual birds, lots of cottontail bunnies, free from cages (I hate caged bunnies!) and assorted lizards. Cute, from a distance.
Three other places I’ve written about are worth checking out for de-stressification (is that a word?). Whatever. I’m talking about a lesser-known property, Loew’s Ventana, with fabulous kid programs, swimming pools with slides and food that’s worth the calories. Hey, chocolate is good for stress, right? I’m sticking with that story.
My other top tier recommendation is the JW Starr Pass Resort, also teeming with family activities, great deals (hurry up or start planning for next summer) and the ultimate (not so great for kids, but you can park them at the Westward Look )— Miraval Resort. You know, Oprah’s place. I didn’t even know it was O’s fave place because I’m not an afternoon-tv-person. But if you do go, check out this amazing Cowboy dude, Wayne Wyatt, who puts corporate types through their paces with horses. It’s a program like no other and I, uh, heard they also offer some sex-program.
Not to mention Dr. Andrew Weill, the health guru who resembles a graying Santa.
I plan on reporting on other amazing places (from my back”yard” whose view is of, say, a coupla mountains. Sure beats hearing the roar of a power mower in the morning and incessant honking and cellphone idiots who stand on their porches and talk REALLL loud……)
Stay tuned for an update on our unpacking. Oh, and some more details about my non-stressed out kids and Lew. Maggie still freaks when it thunders, but at least she doesn’t have to deal with a 100-year-old Victorian house with its inevitable million steps. We have a ranch house! Maggie is giving off gratitude vibes. That or, passing SBDs……
Stay calm, take deep breathes and plan on coming for a visit.
Naomi, Yo Momma!