Which yore? Judging from the attire and upturned color I’d say it was the early 1980s. I’m pretending to be my glamorous fashionista aunt, no doubt, chin up, hips turned slightly for the camera. Too bad I wasn’t dressed in a 1950s Dior, but then I never would have made it to that rock happy and unscathed and grinning in Palm Canyon, in my beloved Palm Springs.
The cascading shag (not the stuff hanging from the trees) had been clipped into my unruly curls by John, a Manhattan hair stylist who flew to Palm Springs to cut my aunt’s and several other ladies hair when his home was under six inches of snow. He was urbane, funny, and cooed over me for having a “virgin mane” that cut easily and wasn’t brittle with dye. Come to think of it, those ladies I admired so then, would have been just about my age now… Let’s just say my mane is no longer “virgin” and leave it at that.
My aunt, the tall and willowy, seemed to exist on salads and iced tea. Whenever I came to visit she would give me a quick appraisal, a little moue on her bright red lips, her long elegant hands darting out to readjust my clothing. “The clavicle is such a beautiful part of the anatomy. Show it off while you’re young,” she would pronounce as she opened the neck of my dismally dark and prudishly buttoned cardigan.
“That’s better,” then would come another frown and she would take my hand and lead me into her walk-in closet and dressing room, where she would rummage through drawers until she found the perfect sky-blue cashmere sweater with oyster shell buttons and present it to me. “I wore this in high school, take good care of it and it should last another thirty years.” If I had listened to her I might still have it but, I had a bad habit of taking my sweaters off and looping them through the strap of my college backpack as I walked around campus and I would drop them everywhere and never find them.
I’m talking a lot about Palm Springs these days because that’s where my novel about Hollywood opens, I can’t stop thinking about it, and the people who lived there. In fact, I’ll be there in a couple weeks to recharge, hike the canyons, swim, and (most definitely) slather on sunblock. And to my aunt in heaven, “Hear that? I’m finally listening to you!”
Be well, babies. V