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By Shelley Murphy
I have a love-hate relationship with spring break.
Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) students spent the first week of April celebrating spring’s arrival and school’s dismissal. When my kids were CUSD pupils we took fun family vacations during the weeklong break; then, my boys went to college, and I banished the break’s existence from my calendar.
This month, I have cause to celebrate spring break. After living in the Midwest for two years, my older son returned home for a few days. He accepted a job offer in Northern California, and I volunteered to help him relocate.
On Easter Sunday we packed-up his car and traveled to the Bay Area. We allotted ourselves seven days to find, furnish and feather a new nest before his employment started.
While driving, we discussed housing goals: mine included a safe neighborhood and quick commute to work; his included proximity to nightlife and a nearby Whole Foods.
After arriving at the hotel, we started searching online for apartments and scheduling tours for the following day. We woke up early that morning eager to visit the promising places we viewed online.
But it didn’t take long to discover most of the listings didn’t resemble their website photos. After a disappointing morning spent driving in circles, I suggested buying a map. My son looked mystified, but when I said we’d stop for lunch he agreed.
With map in hand, we found a restaurant. My son unfolded his napkin as I unfolded my map. Our server arrived and I asked him to point out the safest communities and provide suggestions.
Our lunchbreak led me to call a management office and inquire about a three-bedroom apartment. The manager said she had only one unit available and asked when we could move in. I replied, “In five minutes,” and told my son to pack his lunch.
When we arrived, the manager gave us a tour of the complex and available unit—everything exceeded our expectations. A quick text to consult with his two roommates and soon my son started signing papers and writing checks.
The next afternoon, we picked-up his apartment keys and headed to Costco for provisions. We returned to his apartment, our arms burdened with boxes and the elevator undergoing insignificant repairs on our tour became a monumental inconvenience as a renter. Facing the flights of stairs in front of us began to feel like scaling the precipice of Mount Everest.
Our last errand took us to Walmart and included purchasing a television. Without a car large enough to transport the TV, we improvised and called an Uber XL. My son stood on the curb outside Walmart with his TV as I loaded his car with shopping bags and headed back to climb Everest without my Sherpa.
Back at his apartment I received texts from my son reading, “Help me Mother” and “Mommmmm!” My mind raced, imagining him harmed or abducted by the Uber driver. I texted him but didn’t get a response, so I began racing to his car.
But before I reached the garage I saw my son relaxing outside the gates of his apartment with his TV—both unscathed. The urgent texts were meant for me to hurry and unlock the gate so he could connect his PlayStation to the TV.
During our laborious week together, at times we butted heads, but we laughed a lot too. I also discovered we favor the same curse words and use them often while building furniture with Allen wrenches; and I realized my son’s standard reply to most anything I say is, “OK, stop freaking out. Stop, just stop.”
I’m grateful for our time together and realize it’s doubtful we’ll get this chance again. I’ll forever cherish the memories of the week I got my boy back.
After we’d built the last of the furniture, my son drove me to the airport. At the curb we hugged goodbye and my son said, “I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
My thoughts exactly.
Shelley Murphy has lived in San Clemente with her husband for the past 18 years, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.