Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Turf 'n' Surf

Here's a pic of my dad on his latest skydiving adventure.
Just kidding!  This guy looks so much like him, though, I couldn't resist!
Sometimes I feel as if I lead a double life.  On the one hand, I'm this domestic goddess (well, actually more of a domestic disaster) living in a cute little brick house in the very urban city of Houston, Texas.  Then on the other, I'm this free-basing, oops! I mean free-thinking, California girl spending her summers living (although some might say mooching) in her parents' guest house in the nature- and art-centured Santa Barbara, California.  The cultures between the two locales, and thus my two lives, could NOT be more different.  The funny thing is, someway, somehow I have become BOTH of these girls (Mom, don't freak out -- that doesn't mean I'm living in Houston forever!), but I guess it's because I have learned how to be adaptable, and, um, a grownup???  Oh, say it isn't so!  The word "mature" practically makes me gag, and it's just one letter away from "manure," so what does THAT tell you?!  Oh...I guess nothing, but still.

Okay, anyway, back to my very exciting double life (the way I'm building this thing up you would think I'm practically Jekyll and Hyde.  Sorry, nope, not that good.).  Let's start with Houston.  First of all, it is a very, very social city.  We go out to dinner three to four nights a week, usually with friends.  The thing about Houston is that because the weather often makes it tough to do things outside, you end up hanging with your homies a LOT.  Which is fun, I like to be social, and the truth is, I have the best girlfriends of my life here.  The other thing is, when you go out, it's kind of fancy.  I get dressed up here waaaay more than I do in Cali (where I primarily wear jean shorts, a.k.a. "jorts," and flip-flops -- or, as my daughter used to say, slip-slops), and I actually wear more make-up here than I do in California (although I reserve this tedious ritual mostly for going out -- during the daytime I look like a shiny, sweaty, spandexed -- oh God, dare I say it? -- Mom.)  But I like to dress up occasionally -- it makes me remember that I can acually look kinda-sorta presentable sometimes, and that I can be feminine and sexy too.

Houston is warm, friendly, and open, although it is definitely more formal than any city I have ever lived in.  Politeness is a way of life here, and even when someone has something trashy to say about another person, they'll end it on a positive note.  For instance: "Darla is such a two-timing blabbermouthing bitch -- bless her little heart!"  Personally, I like to use this technique when griping to other moms in carpool line:  "Bella is so dramatic she's absolutely exasperating, Charlie's a lazy little shit, and Teddy has behavioral problems, I'm convinced of it...oh, but they really are such little miracles, aren't they?!"  (btw, none of that stuff about my kids is really true -- cough, ahem.)

Now my life in Santa Barbara, on the other hand, is the polar, and I mean polar, opposite.  First of all, you are outside ALL OF THE TIME.  It is so beautiful, and the weather is so perfect, there is no reason why you shouldn't or wouldn't be.  For this reason, I find people there to be a little more antisocial, seeing as how they are super busy enjoying the scenery, or hiking, or kayaking, or jogging, or windsurfing, or paragliding, or skydiving...Okay, maybe not EVERYONE is busy skydiving, but you get what I'm saying.  My parents are particularly antisocial (although the extreme sports stuff is not really their thang.  Can you imaging my father taking a running jump off a cliff with a parachute on his back, sing-songing, "Darrrrrling, I just can't seem to find the pull-tab..."), although they enjoy their life to the nth degree.  Unlike most Houstonians, they are as informal and impolite as it gets.  In the late afternoons you can usually find my mother lounging around in a schmatta (Yiddish for housedress), barking orders at anyone who gets in her path.  "Goddamn it, Sarah, get the kids out of here, I can't hear the news, and, Frank, feed those dogs NOW!!!"  To which my father and I will acquiese, simply to get out of the war zone.  Although, under his breath, my father will mumble to me, "Sarah, I really can't stand your fucking mother sometimes, you know that?"  Subsequently, my brother will appear for dinner, and yell in ogre-ish baritones, "MOOOOMMMMM!!!  WHAT"S FOR DINNER!?!?  IT BETTER BE POT ROAST -- I'M STAARRRVVIINNGG!!!"  See?  Super polite and formal, just like I said.

In S. to the B., we loll around on chaises in the backyard, we read books, we putter in my dad's art studio, we eat dinner at 5:00 around the tiny kitchen table.  A big night out is considered going to the movies and the Natural Cafe (that's another difference -- the food.  While Houston has "grub," Santa Barbara has "greens."  Steven is always FAMISHED whenever he visits, and he never lets me forget it.  Love that -- complaining is the best!)  I totally recharge and replenish during my summers in California, visually, emotionally and spiritually.  Plus, I come back all rested, geared up, and ready to PAR-TAY -- ya' hear me, friends?!  (Ugh -- canNOT believe I just wrote that.  Gross.  But, seriously, who's down?)

Anyway, what I guess I'm getting at with this double life business, is that I feel like I kind of get it all.  I get the socializing, the fun, the friendliness, the beauty, the chillaxing, and, of course, the family.  I know that this split-personality lifestyle of mine can't and won't go on forever, but in the meantime, I feel blessed to experience my life in such a multitude of layers and dimensions.  And my life itself has become representative of my persona -- it is all the things that I enjoy, that I stand for, that I am.  And perhaps that's exactly what our lives themselves are intended to be.

P.S.  A big shout-out goes to my friend, Amy, who helped me come up with this post idea -- must give credit where credit's due!  And on that note, thank you, Stu, for helping me come up with the title, "Who's Your Mommy," in the first place.  And, thank you, Mom, for giving birth to me, and thank you, Steven, for being so supportive, and thank you, Jen, for -- oh, you guys get the idea!


  1. I love this, Sarah. S great to read your perspective of Houston (I've never been, but had ideas about it) and then California, after living elsewhere. And whenever you write about your parents, I swear I can hear them saying those things. Too funny! (Hi Mr. and Mrs. K.)

  2. It kinda sounds like the best of both worlds, but "sounds" very well may be the operative word. I love how you describe the people in Houston as being polite, even after they've said something nasty...bless their little hearts. Once again you've written something that has brought a smile to my face and of course a few chuckles. Do you think that some of your friends in Houston might think you're exaggerating when describing your summers in Santa Barbara? Well if any of your friends read this, I can attest to Sarah's 100% accuracy!