Santa Barbara Nightmare!! (Gestation: 29 Weeks, 5 Days)
Place: Santa Barbara Biltmore
Activity: Solo weekend away
Mental Condition: Foot loose and fancy free
I’m sitting in the outdoor lounge of the Spanish hacienda-style Biltmore where I got married forty pregnant pounds ago, looking out at the shining, becalmed Pacific Ocean on a pristine Southern California day. My lobster appetizer has arrived along with half a flute of Veuve Cliquoe (It’s said in France pregnant women drink a glass of champagne per day. I’m of Czech origin which is only three countries away).
It’s the beginning of my 30-hour mom-scapade. I’ve left my toddler in the care of her daddy and granny. I’ve never been away from Clare overnight, however I’m not worried for her safety. I do not miss her. Or her cheeks. Or her nibbly teeth. The jungle drums, as Anne Lamott calls them, are not beating.
Time: 2 p.m.
Place: Room 1301
Interesting Sidebar: It’s Oprah’s birthday weekend and many of her guests are staying in this very hotel near her Montecito villa. I’m a closeted “Gropie” (Oprah Groupie). Henry won’t watch her show. He says it causes his testicles to pucker.
Mental Condition: Pleasant indecision
My room is in a secluded little wing of the hotel near a tiny orange grove. It will be quiet and peaceful here. I’ve unpacked my weekend bag. I’ve plucked a few stray whiskers. I’ve eaten a complementary orange harvested from the tree outside my window. What to do with all this glorious free time?
I could lounge poolside wearing my maternity tankini in the hopes of spying some of Oprah’s famous friends who I’ll charm with my j’ne sais quoi (yes, the Czech know un peu de Francais) and get myself invited to her fête to eat fondant from her cake with John Travolta and Gayle.
Or I can go to the beach and choose from a myriad of splendiferous activities like kayaking, biking, surfing, roller-blading, fishing, boating, cliff-repelling because celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow do all those things when they’re seven months pregnant along with vaginal push-ups and uterine squats.
Or I could call my mom and see if she wants to go to a movie even though Henry said I shouldn’t call any of our relatives who live here because this is supposed to be “Me” time and I might end up doing something they want to do instead of what I want to do. So I won’t call my mom. I’m going to eat a complementary cereal bar and then I’ll decide.
Time: 4 p.m.
Place: State Street, Santa Barbara
Mental Condition: Slight unease
I want to buy Henry a life-enriching Valentine’s Day gift because he’s such a generous husband who I’d be devastated to lose in some unspeakable accident along with our child while I’m up here in Santa Barbara like a selfish horse’s ass trying to have a good time without them. Are those jungle drums I hear?
Unhelpful Superstition: If I have a good time away from my family they will perish. The only way they’ll be safe when I’m away is if I’m having an impacted wisdom tooth removed. Or a colonoscopy.
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: Paseo Nuevo Mall, Santa Barbara
Mental State: Mental
My mom just left after we saw the movie of her choice, Rabbit Hole. Synopsis for Rabbit Hole on IMDB: “Life for a happy couple is turned upside down after their young son dies in an accident.”
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: April Cornell Store on State
Mental Condition: Mystified
I meant to buy Henry a life-enriching Valentine’s Day gift (a tourmaline pendant? a Navajo dreamcatcher?), but seem to’ve bought myself a dress instead. It’s the kind of dress you’d wear to high tea with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson wearing period costumes in an English garden surrounded by tuberoses and lilac. I can wear the dress to Valentine’s Day dinner with Henry, for whom I will have no gift.
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Place: The Bella Vista Restaurant at the Biltmore
Mental Condition: Dread
I was expecting Oprah and her friends to be boozing it up at the bar here, but apparently they’ve all vacated the premises for the birthday party at her villa, enfortressed by military contractors canvassing the perimeter (not that I tried to breach it) wearing night-vision goggles, hefting grenade launchers.
The only people in the Bella Vista restaurant are me and a man who looks like Ted Bundy sitting two tables away. He’s staring at me, blinklessly. Five minutes ago he came by my table with absolutely no pretext of going to the men’s room or anything even mildly normal and asked me what I was doing at the hotel alone and pregnant (good freakin’ question!) I just hope one of his multiple personality disorder alters is a baby nurse in case terror causes pre-term labor.
Time: 2 a.m.
Place: Room 1301
Emotional State: That girl in the tent in The Blair Witch Project
My room is dangerously secluded at the far reaches of the Biltmore near a rat-infested orange orchard perfect for hiding a corpse. All the Oprah guests have fled, if they were ever really here to begin with, and I’m the only guest/unsuspecting victim left. Someone just tried my doorknob. It was probably the Ted Bundy guy (or maybe room service removing the hanger with my breakfast order). It’s a freakin’ jungle drum circle up in here. …What was that?….Did you hear that??
Gestation Time Twenty-Nine Weeks, Six Days
Time: 11 p.m.
Place: My house
I burst through the door into my home several hours early to discover that both I and my family were still alive. We fell into each others’ arms. There was a lot of disgusting familial love and I was so glad to be home from my hellish ordeal.
Cut to now: Henry and I just clicked off the flashlight we were using to look for pin worms in Clare’s bottom as she slept. Because that’s when they come out and lay their eggs.
Mental State: S’il vous plaît revenir mon Santa Barbara!!!