Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring (finally) Breaks

A perfectly-timed spring break is upon us, and as I face down a bleak forecast of gloomy rain, and our Santa Barbara camping trip threatens to become a Half Moon Bay hostel over-nighter, I reflect on some of my more memorable spring breaks:

1. Nothing like March in New England to make California rain seem like a holy benediction. Freshman year of college I desperately needed to earn some dough for my upcoming summer backpacking trip to Europe. Why else would I have agreed to alphabetize and label my dad's cavernous wine cellar? A perpetual fifty degrees inside, dirty rotten snow outside, bright fluorescent boredom, and a never-ending cavalcade of Merlot at eight bucks an hour. Of course, I realize now (despite the dingy memories) how very privileged I was.

2. By senior year of college I'd seen the light of Alternative Spring Break, the civic-minded undergrad's antidote to tequila-soaked foam parties in Cancun. So together with a dozen other rosy-cheeked college kids, I headed south in a giant conversion van thick with the smell of Doritos and expectation. We spent the week hammering houses into being with Habitat for Humanity in beautiful Almost Heaven, West Virginia. I remember the monotony of the work sometimes broken by jokes and stories and local kids. It's those moments of young-adult bonding--Audrey and I performing a dance routine for the talent show, the video we all made using kitchen utensils and food scraps late one night--that still burn brightest in the sanctuary of my memory.

3. There was that time I went to Vero Beach, Florida, with my first serious boyfriend who played golf every day while I swam and jogged the flat beaches and got the worst haircut I've ever had (and which still elicits horrified laughter from my sisters who were later charged with the task of chopping down the mushroom that had grown atop my head). What can I say? I was 23, making Kraft mac and cheese for dinner, and reading 'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.' Some things, thankfully, really do change.

4. I've spent a couple of spring breaks down in Louisiana, where Easter looms large, warm, and eternally sunny. Eggs are boiled, dyed, and pock-pocked (which means they are knocked together to see which one breaks first), and sometimes eaten. And then there's the annual crawfish boil (solid proof of my Cajun roots). The whole family sitting outside around newspaper-covered tables heaped high with steaming red boiled crawfish and corn-on-the-cob will always and forever mean spring to me. Ditto Mom's sumptuous calla-lilies unfurling dramatically all over the yard.

5. The last two years M and I have taken to the road with a car full of camping gear, books, maps, and vague plans. Each time we found adventure: old saloon towns, windy cliffs, salt flats, LA hot tubs, occasional fast food, and glorious desert. This year, armed with home-baked calzone and 'Madame Bovary', who knows what we'll do?

Last night the storm clouds obscured the biggest-in-18-years 'super' moon as Nonesuch rocked a sold-out benefit featuring David Grisman and the haunts of my boyfriends past. I had so much fun joking around the silent auction tables with the co-workers, students, and parents I've done this with for years, who have seen me grow into a married woman, who have become my community. I had so much fun taking tickets at the door, swaying to a legendary mandolin player, eating cake, and amusing the kids with my (wine-loosened:) southern accent.

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