Napa State of Mind

There’s a french bakery and cafe several blocks from our home. I drive past it at least five times a week, and I always notice their sign because I’m a sucker for interesting typography. Recently, stuck at a red light in front of the cafe, I noticed something for the first time…a picture logo next to the cafe name. A rather large picture of a chic woman standing next to the Eiffel Tower. Ummm……huh? How the hell did I miss that? I’ve driven past this cafe at least 500 times.

This is not an isolated incident. Every day for nearly a week, something “new” stops me in my tracks.

Since I’ve stopped shopping, I’m starting to see things I haven’t noticed before or bothered to appreciate in a long time. Did you know there are grapevines in the Napa Valley? Miles and miles of them! I know, it blew me away, too! I had no idea since I spent most all of my time on previous visits rummaging around little clothing boutiques and antique havens. I couldn’t be bothered to stand outside and breathe in the delicious air or admire the simple magnificence.

Whenever we plan a trip, my husband (let’s call him Harv) books the hotel first and looks for stores I might like to visit second. He’s observant and considerate and knows the kinds of things I like, what size I wear and is smart enough to stay away from any touristy stores that sell “city paraphernalia,” as I like to call it (you know-the hats, magnets, mugs and t-shirts that shout “someone who loves me very much went to _______ and got me this shirt!!). Sitting on a barcalounger in some shop and giving me the thumbs up when I come out of a changing room is probably not his idea of a good time, but Harv always does it, because he knows it makes me happy.

Harv’s rear end has made too many dents in too many chairs waiting for me.

Since we planned our trip long before The Project came along, we made a list of the usual suspects. That clothing boutique on Main Street, the cupcakery right next door to that, oh, and what about that strip in St. Helena with all those amazing stores? Since I didn’t fly in until my actual birthday, there was no time to cram it all in before the clock struck 12, so we had to scratch everything off the list.

What to do, what to do. What exactly does a gal do on vacation when she can’t shop, can’t get pampered at the spa and can’t even buy a good book to lounge by the pool?

Drive around aimlessly for hours, holding hands with her husband.
Get a cherry lime-aid at Sonic.
Drive around some more.
Stop by Dean & Deluca for peach riesling sorbet.
Walk around main street and people watch.
Fall in love with a little town.

It’s very quiet there. I can hear myself think. Better yet, I can hear others talk. Everything seems a little funnier and a lot tastier.

We’ve decided to spend a month there next summer.

Since coming back to L.A. yesterday, I’ve tried to practice the Napa State of Mind. For the first time in a LONG time, I really enjoyed the simple things today. We didn’t do much. We didn’t make it to church, we got up late, and just lounged…but it felt great. And I am happy.

Thinking of You

Dear Child of Mine,

I sent you to middle school on Tuesday and yesterday I turned thirty. Doesn’t it usually happen the other way around?

I love you. I know it’s my obligation as a parent to say that, but I’m saying it right now just because I want to do it, and not because I have to do it.

I feel like we’ve grown up together. A lot of times, you were the one that was more mature, more patient, and more understanding. You’ve know all along that not everything has to be perfect, you sensed that what isn’t perfect can still be right. I’m still learning that.

Thanks for being so happy. Most mornings, as soon as you wake up, you are singing and humming. Everything makes you laugh. You think my jokes are funny. You eat what I cook, and pretend that it’s tasty.

I want to make you proud. One day, when you’re older, you’ll roll your eyes at me and think that I don’t understand, but secretly, I hope you’ll still be proud of me. I want to set a good example for you. I want to show you how easy it is to enjoy all the little adventures in life. So many people feel guilty about being happy and think that true happiness can only come if you work really, really hard to get it. They waste all their todays waiting for the tomorrows. They think that happiness only occurs on exotic trips or romantic restaurants or a front row seat in a stadium.

I’m guilty of these things, too.

I told you about my project. I kept it simple when I explained it to you. So this is what you understand-that Mommy isn’t shopping for a whole year and doing other things. Every day, as you see me face a challenge and defeat it, I want you to realize that you can do anything you want to do, too.

I think you are absolutely fabulous.

Your mother