Toasting the Sunrise

Not yet 6AM and entirely worth it

Watching the sun rise above the Sea of Cortez is a humbling experience.

Anyone can catch a sunset. Any drunken tourist stumbling from happy hour on the beach to a liquid dinner at some bad chain restaurant can glimpse the sun sinking down past the horizon, briefly toast to the moment then carry on. A sunset is a public celebration. But a sunrise, that's a private one.

While I sat there in my little hotel terrace chair, feet extended over the railing and bathrobe clutched around me, it gave me time to reflect on the weekend.

There was a teary goodbye with the children, and then 24 hours and two flights later, a margarita deposited in my hand within seconds of pulling up to the hotel to help make it all better. There were the dusty knick-knack shops of San Jose del Cabos and the frightening tourist trap of downtown Cabos San Lucas. (Do people really go all the way to Mexico to eat at Johnny Rockets?) Someone even got in a good culturally insensitive crack in about the Home Depot on Highway 1 and how the parking lot is probably filled with Americans looking for work.

The resort where the wedding took place provided, bar none, the single most indulgent, exquisite poolside lounging experience of my life. When the staff sated me with homemade fruit popsicles, dabbed at my temples with a cold, lemon-scented towel, and then personally sprayed me down with cooling oxygen mist (I know!) I nearly died. I was torn between the liberal guilt of enjoying such luxuries and thinking hm, maybe I should turn Republican, master Wall Street, screw the poor, vote to dismantle social security, and come here like, every week for the rest of my life.
The view from "Does Not Suck."

If you ever have a chance to save half your yearly income and stay at one of the top hotels of the world I highly, highly recommend it. If you ever have the chance to sell one of your children and do the same, I also recommend it. Me, I just slummed it at the Hilton and crashed the fancy place.

Considering everything I saw and drank and ate over 4 days, the images that are most vivid in my mind are still those of the wedding:

A candle lit at the beachside ceremony for grandparents no longer with us.

A brother nervously preparing a best man speech and asking for the proper pronunciation of "fortuitous."

Three adult siblings in an impenetrable group hug, consumed by emotion at the youngest giving away her son.

A beaming 89 year-old great-grandmother hoisted above a crowd in a chair for a hora which would soon segue into a traditional Indian dance.

A table of six cousins crying with laughter into their cocktails, hardly able to relay to the spouses the childhood stories of "shows" performed at family reunions.

Two beautiful sisters toasting a stunning bride without a hint of ill will or envy.

And then it dawned on me as the sun grew higher in the sky, casting shadows across the water from the early morning flights of the seabirds - this is what it's all about. This is the reasons for the stretch marks, the leaking boobs, the sleepless nights turned to bedtime debates, the bottle battles, the preschool anxiety, the Elmo. This family business, this inarticulable experience of connecting and belonging to something far greater than ourselves, this is why we do it. This is what we're all here for.

In 20 or 30 years, it will be my girls hugging at a wedding, toasting their cousins, laughing about childhood, rolling their eyes as their parents and aunts and uncles dare to do the Hokey Pokey on the dance floor. And those moments will live longer than I do. Longer than even they do.

Thank you, sunrise. For the light. But also for the clarity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hollywood is plenty liberal; they don't seem to bat an eyelash at their lavish lifestyles...live it up sister!


Anyways...it's not like for every hour you spend in luxury, some poor person gets kicked off welfare. I don't think it works that way :)

10/31/07, 11:55 AM  
Blogger Cynthia Samuels said...

You always say what I feel better than I do! I've written maybe five posts over the past two years about family weddings, bar mitzvahs and other life events and tried to describe the deep gratitude you offer here. Thanks for saying it best!

10/31/07, 12:02 PM  
Blogger Mahlers On Safari said...

I'm glad to hear that you had a fabulous and meaningful trip!

Sunrise, sunset.

I'm singing Fiddler on the Roof.

10/31/07, 12:46 PM  
Blogger josetteplank.com said...

The things about family...

yeah, exactly.

When it's bad, it can be brutal.

But when it's good, it's heaven on earth. Whether on a stunning beach or in a firehall in the Poconos.

(Although, I could sure use a trek to a stunning beach.)

When siblings go well, there is no one who knows you better...who carries the story of your history from near beginning and can tell it - a witness, a notarization, a look that says "I know, and this is true, and I was there with you."

Beautiful post.

10/31/07, 12:50 PM  
Blogger Birchsprite said...

That's beautiful

10/31/07, 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberal guilt, my foot! You loved every minute of it! :)

Gorgeous photo.

10/31/07, 1:05 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

You're making me cry, here. Excellent reminder about our kids, as well as the need for the occasional margarita.

10/31/07, 1:14 PM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

So beautiful in so many ways.

Thanks for that reminder. It almost helps squash my intense jealousy. :)

10/31/07, 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i briefly pause to make this comment, saying "thanks, that was awesome" before forwarding this post on to my boyfriend, who has never had any family, and really doesn't have any idea why it's important.

i'm hoping your post will succeed where i have failed.

no pressure, though.

10/31/07, 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was lovely. I attended a wedding in Cabo in 1993 - it was also beautiful and full of family love...my college roommate's family ove anyway!

I have to say though, I was disturbed to read there is a Johnny Rockets there. AND a Home Depot! Ick. When I was there we ate at the Office down on the beach (hope it's still there - they serve enourmous margaritas!) and at the Trailer Park - fabulous seafood! Pity that lovely places are over run with typical blah eateries...

Glad you had a good time!

10/31/07, 1:49 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

beautifully said. thank you.

10/31/07, 2:00 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

Love the first paragraph... and all the rest too. Beautifully written! I'm so envious!


10/31/07, 2:04 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

The beauty of your words here? Makes up for the seething jealousy that would otherwise burble up in in my already-churning belly at the images of sun and sand and water and sweet light.

So, so lovely. So, so true.

10/31/07, 2:10 PM  
Blogger High Heeled Mama said...

Such a beautifully written sentiment.

And I have the sudden urge to call all my cousins to relive our own family "shows!"

10/31/07, 2:20 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

WOW - great post.

10/31/07, 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like an amazing vacation all around. Have a great time.

10/31/07, 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful and inspiring trip. Glad you got to enjoy the sunrise and all the other special moments.

10/31/07, 2:58 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Beautiful post. It sounds wonderful!

10/31/07, 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto the WOW. What a fantastic post. And just when we had sworn off having a second child, you've made me think again. Grrrr.

Sounds like a wonderful time!

10/31/07, 4:17 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Beautifully written and wonderfully evocative.

Glad you had a fantastic time.

10/31/07, 5:18 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

How beautiful, and how wonderful to appreciate it all.

10/31/07, 9:01 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

Wow. Just awed.

I'd still be waxing poetic about the luxury. I guess I am a Republican at heart. ;)

10/31/07, 10:48 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

After two solid days of road trip with two potty training toddlers this is the best possible thing I could have read. It's totally worth it. Thanks.


OMG, people actually dab other peoples' temples with lemon-scented towels?

11/1/07, 3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop it liz, you're making me cry!

11/1/07, 3:46 AM  
Blogger jen lemen said...

oh, liz. this one is major. beautiful, beautiful writing. it's so easy for me to be so in the moment that i forget it all adds up to something so much bigger than any sacrifice i make today. xo

11/1/07, 3:57 AM  
Blogger Sam and Harper said...

Beautiful post. Reaffirms our decision to give our Sam Sam a sibling:)

11/1/07, 7:12 AM  
Blogger J said...

Beautifully written, beautifully said.

I'm glad you got to go be pampered for awhile...I wish everyone could do that once in awhile. Totally fun and relaxing.

Sunrises are indeed personal, though in the winter they happen late enough that we can all see them if we want to. ;)

11/1/07, 2:21 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Sounds fabulous!

11/1/07, 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reminder as to why the hell I'm doing this mother gig.

11/1/07, 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right. There is nothing better than a "I really really don't have the money to be staying here" hotel experience. Glad you got to crash the luxurious one. Sounds divine.

11/1/07, 11:51 PM  
Blogger mod*mom said...

happy day of the dead gringo lady

11/2/07, 2:52 AM  
Blogger Moments Of Mom said...

Wow, this post is beautiful.
Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

11/2/07, 2:05 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

tears, you succeeded in bringing tiny salt-water tears to my eyes. thank goodness you didnt make them leak onto my keyboard (i am at work you know) :)

11/2/07, 4:57 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

Beautiful. Glad you had a such wonderful time.

11/2/07, 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This afternoon I got the call to read this post. "It's the best one yet," I was told. But I waited. For just the right moment. Cleared my desk of bills and waste paper, poured myself a glass of ripe red wine, and savored every single word of this post. My sister was right. Your gift is that you can make us see beyond the beyond. Thank you. Our family is so much the better because of you.

11/3/07, 7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liz, I can't thank you enough for writing how I was feeling. So honored to have you in our family. I love you.

11/3/07, 1:26 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Piercing in so very many ways.

11/3/07, 3:50 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Awe.... I love it. And you are so right. The family times, not just at weddings, but just when the family is together, laughing, joking, children running, that's what its all about. Thank you for your post!

11/3/07, 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've almost succeeded in making me wish I was bringing my children along on our vacation later this month.


But the call of the margarita and the tropical lounge chaises wins out over familial love.

Maybe next time...

Glad you had a wonderful time.

Oh, and the peacock? LOOOOOVE it. They are beautiful kidlets. But then, you already knew that.

11/5/07, 12:01 PM  
Blogger Kristi B said...

Beautifully said! This is what it's all about.

By the way, that liberal guilt gets me all the time too. I'm frequently torn between what I want personally and what I think is the best for society as a whole. It sucks to have a conscience!

Welcome back!

11/6/07, 5:04 AM  
Blogger the mad momma said...

I am always around, lurking...sometimes commenting. with this one i just had to pop my head out and say - beautiful post..

11/11/07, 9:55 AM  

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