We went camping last weekend, a quick getaway on a Saturday night. Did we go to some dusty old campground miles from the city or a national forest with trees high above our heads? Nope. Instead, we camped three miles from our house in the heart of downtown Valencia, at the Hyatt Hotel.
I know what you’re thinking: ”Uh, dude, that isn’t camping.” Maybe not to you, but to Sophie and Jacob it is. They’ve always loved hotels– sleeping in a foreign bed; swimming in a large, heated pool; watching the same television shows they do at home, but on a better TV; not having to clean up after themselves. Most importantly, they love when the four of us escape from reality and get treated like royalty, at least for just one night.
The night started out with Julie and I on a date, our first in maybe four months. Like most parents we know, the desire for a couple of hours alone, to get some dinner and drinks, is discussed quite often. Actually doing it becomes a challenge, what with a busy family life and the economy. Yet, there we were, hanging out at TGI Fridays, relaxing and having a great time over a couple of beers and some overpriced appetizers, acting like we did when we first met over 18 years ago, not a care in the world.
That carefree feeling lasted about ten minutes before our conversations turned to repainting the bathrooms, mowing the lawn, Jacob’s health, school and other daily stresses. Nevertheless, having some alone time (even in a noisy bar) with the love of my life was the perfect remedy to the blue mood I’ve been in lately.
From the day I met her, Julie has been my savior. There are corridors in my heart where shadows lurk and they sometimes pull me into dark places. Doubt, melancholy, despair- they all wait with baited breath for a slight turn in my mood so they can pounce. Time and time again, when I’m in one of my blue periods, all it takes is a small gesture: a smile, a touch of the hand, those three words. Any of these are enough to bring a glow to my spirits, to help me breathe again. I am so lucky to have a woman who saves me over and over.
I let her know this on Saturday night; well, not in so many words. While effusing over a recent discover, Marshall Crenshaw’s ”Right in Time,” I told her how much the song reminds me of her. Of course, she’d needed to hear the obsrure song to know what I was talking about. Later, after we picked up Sophie and Jake and drove to the campground, er, hotel, I played the song in the car. However, I doubt she was able to decipher the lyrics over the buzzing of our VW and the kids chatting excitedly in the backseat. Whether she went back to listen to ”Right on Time” again, I don’t know. Seeing as it’s only located on my iPod and seeing as my iPod is with me 90% of the time, I doubt it. So I’ll take this space to point out some of my favorite Crenshaw lyrics from the song.
You’re always there when you say you’ll be
And I know I always will remember last December
For some reason, or for a few
Through a dark void I was crawling
When you came calling, and right on time
You came along right on time
Lonesome was my middle name
And then right on time
You came and changed the game
You wrapped your sweet love around me
And put my feet back on the ground
You talked me down, brought me around
Right on time
When I thought that the end was near
Thought I faced the final curtain
Of which I’m certain
That was when you came walking in
And changed the atmosphere with your smile
Saved my heart from the junkpile
And right on time
You don’t come across many throwback love songs like this one, with a driving beat that beckons the open road and your hands pounding on the dashboard. In general with a rock song that grooves like this one, you hear guys lament the loss of a loved one or lash out at the government, but professing your love and adoration for the person who saved you from loneliness? Not at this tempo. On top of Crenshaw’s pining vocal delivery, he gives us one hell of a guitar solo. Plus there’s the loose drumming from the legendary Jim Keltner. This, my friends, is a damn fine pop song.
After checking in to the hotel, the family went swimming (a cool relief from Santa Clarita’s blistering heat), then returned to our room for mindless television courtesy of the Disney Channel and some room service. Julie and I stretched out in our bed while Sophie and Jacob snuggled into theirs. I looked around the room and I couldn’t keep a huge smile from covering my face. Whatever sadness or fears I was having had gone away and I was once again reminded that the love and support of my family, of my great wife, will always get me through difficult times.This escape was what I needed, what we all needed, and it came around right on time.