3 Things You Can Do When Life Sucks

“Man it’s hot. It’s like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot.”

-Eugene Morris Jerome (Matthew Broderick), Biloxi Blues

 

Phoenix, Arizona.

 

July.

 

Africa hot.

In other words, Phoenix in July = Time to Leave Town

 

 

Part One

 

This past weekend we ditched the scorching heat for cooler temps in Prescott, Arizona (place of my birth). Luckily for us, on Saturday, the town of Prescott hosted the annual Frontier Days Parade around the historic courthouse square, bordered on one side by the infamous Whiskey Row. Although the Prescott 4th of July parade is nowhere nearly as impressive as the Fiesta Bowl parade, for example, it is small-town cool with real-live cowboys, Wild Women of the West, clowns throwing candy, and pint-sized ponies walking the streets.

 

Paloma loved it. I loved it, too. Setting up camp at the 4th of July Parade in Prescott is a Hernandez family tradition. I can’t remember the last time I missed it.

 

How does my husband feel about the parade? Ummmmm….not so excited.

 

He especially wasn’t thrilled about getting up at the crack of dawn to make it in time for the 9 a.m. start time. Despite all this, luckily for both of us, Paloma couldn’t wait to see the parade. In a rare change of personality, she bounded out of bed in a good mood, did everything we said, and actually allowed us to get on the road in time to make it only 40 minutes late!

 

Yessss.

 

The streets surrounding the courthouse square were congested with people and cars. James drove around in circles looking for a parking spot semi-close to the parade location. He finally managed to find a spot only a mile away.

 

Finally, after hours on the road, hiking the streets of Prescott with our chairs, cooler and a 3 year old in tow, we settled in with snacks and sunglasses to watch the big show.

 

The first thing I noticed was the sun was beating down on us.

 

In the words of Eugene Morris Jerome, “It was Africa hot.”

 

Next, I remembered I forgot to bring sunblock.

 

*#$#@%*&!

 

Anyone who has ever experienced the summer sun in Arizona knows that left unexposed, fair skin can get severely burned in 15 minutes flat. I didn’t care so much about this happening to me or my husband. I was very worried about my little girl.

I started having an internal freak out attack and was on the verge of hyperventilation when my mom told me to look at the sky.

 

A cloud. A big, dark monsoon cloud was headed our way.

 

Monsoons are the other “thing” about Arizona summers. We get crazy humidity, near daily overcast skies, dust, wind and rain.

 

Lots and lots of rain.

 

The clouds moved in and covered up the sun. My panic dissipated. I couldn’t take my eyes off Paloma as she laughed and clapped, watching the parade.

 

Not long after, I felt a drop of water hit my arm. Then another hit my face. Then 10 more on my head.

 

Then…it was a torrential downpour.

 

Hundreds of parade watchers ran for cover.

 

My outdoorsman Dad found refuge for all of us under a pine tree that turned out to be the perfect umbrella for our family. James set up his beach chair under the low hanging branches, and Paloma and I piled on top of him.

 

We inhaled the fresh smell and savored the cool breeze as it caressed our faces.

 

The parade carried on, but we didn’t get to see it.

prescott-monsoon
prescott-4th-of-july-2014

It didn’t matter. I was in heaven.

 

I was with the people I loved the most.

 

Paloma squealed with excitement as she left the safety of our little pine to stomp in the puddles and dance in the rain with my Dad.

 

 

3 Things You Can Do When Life Sucks

 

Find a safe place to be with someone you love.

 

Watch the world go by with wonder.

 

Look for something good in the experience and give thanks for it.

 

Part Two

 

After the storm ended, we found our way to my parents’ favorite Indian restaurant near the park. We lunched on Chikken Tikka Masala and garlic naan. In a rare turn of events, my non-drinker parents even slammed the complimentary champagne with their meal.

 

We spent the rest of the day lounging in the park on benches and blankets. We visited, ran into other family members and treated ourselves to ice cream. Despite “really having to go,” Paloma didn’t have any potty accidents, and she fell asleep, sweet as a cherub, in my arms.

 

It was perfect.

 

Finally, it was time to head back to the depths of the hell-like heat. My husband, who is an improv performer, had a show to get to at 7 p.m. in Phoenix. We left in plenty of time for a leisurely drive back to the valley…

So we thought.

 

When we were ready to hit the I-17 (after already being on the road for 40 minutes), highway patrolmen waved us into the Cordes Junction exit. While there, we learned there had been two fatal accidents on the freeway and it was closed. There was no estimated time for re-opening, so we could wait…or find a different route.

 

Once the freeway opened, we were only an hour from home. If we decided to take the alternate route, we were three hours from home.

 

What to do…what to do…

 

I went to the bathroom to think about it, and as I was coming out of the gas station convenience store, a long lost uncle who has been battling cancer pulled up to the parking space in front of me. We hugged. We visited. We passed the time away for awhile.

 

I was so happy to see him.

 

After my uncle got some info from an inside line he had within the Department of Transportation, we decided to head back the long way home. It was probably going to be hours before I-17 re-opened.

 

James wouldn’t be making his show. He did spew some expletives for a few minutes. Then he came to accept of our situation and behaved himself pretty well, with minimal incidents of road rage over blue-haired Prescottonian drivers.

 

When I expressed my surprise that he was taking the detour so well, he told me there were at least two families who were having a worse day than we were, so it really wasn’t all that bad. He was right. At least we were together…and alive.

 

As it turns out, the long way home took us right by my parents’ house in the countryside near Prescott. At the time we were driving by, James could barely keep his eyes open. Paloma was screaming “Potty! Potty!” in the backseat, and I was just plain drained.

 

We stopped…just ”for a few minutes.”

 

A few minutes turned into hours. We walked my parents’ property, admired my dad’s summer garden, taunted their chickens, and watched with focus as Paloma used one of my dad’s rakes to make “race tracks” in the dirt.

 

Beat down from the day, we decided to stay the night. We spent the next morning visiting, feasting on fresh chicken eggs, and enjoying the cool breeze that signaled the onset of another monsoon downpour.

 

 

Moral? There are 3 Things You Can Do When Life Sucks

 

Find a safe place to be with someone you love.

 

Watch the world go by with wonder.

 

Look for something good in the experience and give thanks for it.

 

Sending you my wishes for a week in which you find a way to give thanks for the storms that might come your way.

 

All my best,

-w

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