Thom and I were on the last walk of the day with our Doodle, Rhoda Morgenstern. Thom was subdued. Something was brewing.
“I’ve been doing a lot of reading about life as an expat. Have you ever thought of living overseas, Bobby?” he asked.
Incoming. Brace yourself, Bobby.
“Any specific countries in mind?” I ask.
Please don’t name a swamp country like Cambodia or Vietnam. Or, for that matter, any country inspiring a movie called The Killing Fields.
“Panama and Nicaragua are up-and-coming expat countries.”
No, no. BIG relocation rule #1: Never live in a country where your next door neighbor can be a deposed dictator.
“Or The Netherlands.”
Not gonna happen. Can’t walk in clogs.
“Why do they call it The Netherlands?” I ask. “Why not just – Netherlands?
“Or Spain,” he continued. “The Basque country is intriguing. We could buy an old barn, spend a couple of years restoring it.”
“WE don’t actually restore things, Thom. We hire people to restore things. We’re not that kind of gay couple….remember?”
“Come on, Bobby. Can’t you be positive about an idea before you blow the whole thing up?”
“I’m not negative,” I reply. “I’m sensible. And I’ll remind you that you like the fact that I’m sensible. The last time I was positive about a travel idea we spent ten scorched days in Death Valley because of a deal you found on Groupon.”
“Well….I’d like to live in Europe once in my life, even if it’s only for two weeks.”
“That’s a vacation, not a life.”
“We can,” he says, “take a look at something closer. San Miguel de Allende in Mexico has a huge expat community.”
Yes. It’s an adorable place. The center of town is a cobblestone heaven. But two blocks out you cross over into a twilight zone of dark alleys and coyotes. And you can’t get sick in San Miguel because the nearest hospital is only reachable by slow mule.
“We have dual citizenship with Israel,” he offers. “We could move to Jerusalem.”
Now I was just being teased. No smart Jew in his right mind would willingly move to Israel.
We walked in silence for a moment.
“You’re being very quiet about this,” Thom said, pulling himself and Rhoda up close to me. “You haven’t responded well to any of the countries I’ve mentioned. Where would you want to move?”
I wasn’t ready to answer this particular question, but here goes. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you –
Both Thom and Rhoda Morgenstern tilted their heads in confusion.
“Palm Springs?” Thom asks. “Palm Springs?”
“Well, compared with the places you’ve just mentioned it does make me sound shallow.”
“Stop repeating it. People who live in other countries who want to become expats themselves dream of moving to Palm Springs.”
“Really, because I’ve been to Palm Springs and it doesn’t seem all that multi-cultural.”
This is a serious setback.
“You need to open your mind, Thom. This is not your father’s Palm Springs.”
Well…it sort of is.
“Okay. So disabuse me of the notion. Name some of its attributes. And not the obvious ones like the weather or surrounded by beautiful mountains. Something I might not know.”
“Palm Springs was a favorite watering hole for Albert Einstein.”
“It has the largest concentration of mid-century homes in the world.”
“I lost my virginity in Palm Springs.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“Here’s the truth. I’m not totally averse to living in another country but I see problems with it and at our age it isn’t easy to walk back a big mistake. I have this –thing – about Palm Springs. Always have. I was 14 when I first went there. Back then it was still the Lucy and Desi Palm Springs. It had a certain romantic quality. I felt privileged to be there. The air smelled like flowers. It felt peaceful and civilized and made me reevaluate everything I’d seen up until then. It’s different now, but I still feel the same way about it. Living in Palm Springs – well – it’s just a dream I’ve always had.”
Thom put his hand on my cheek and said: “I get it. So let’s think about what that would look like for us.
Keep this a secret, but at that moment I probably would have moved to Cambodia with Thom.
Or at the very least, driven him to the airport.