Where time stands still.
These words greet you as you enter the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale. The words, posted on the hotel’s exterior above the lobby, assure hotel guests they will enjoy themselves so much they will never look at their watch. At least that’s what I took away from it.
You probably remember the times where time stood still for you~your first kiss (thank you Pete Martin); your first car (beep, beep, the hey-everyone-I-have-a-new-car excitement); and all the everyday moments when time stops because you’re so engaged in the moment you forget about the clock. Like when you’re at Starbucks chatting with your girlfriends, in deep conversation about the Kardashians. Oh, okay, you don’t chat about the Kardashians at Starbucks and neither do I, but you know what I mean.
When I entered the Camelback Inn, I planned to spend a couple of days relaxing with my sister Jodee and brother Alvis at the beautiful resort. Jodee and Alvis are caring, thoughtful people who lift my spirits immensely and who I don’t see often enough.
We grabbed a table in the resort’s restaurant. It was Monday after all, so not busy. Even so, our lunch took forever to arrive.
I enjoyed catching up with Jodee and Alvis. But after a while, I wondered,…tick, tick, tick… where’s the chicken tortilla soup I ordered?
Two presidential elections later, my soup arrived in a bowl the size of a thimble. “This is more like a snack than a meal,” I said. Both Jodee and Alvis agreed as they pulled out magnifying glasses in search of their lunch somewhere on their plates.
The bathroom in our hotel room lit up like Las Vegas. Ooh la, la. Rays of light beamed across the slate tile floors and from behind the massive mirrors. I half-expected Celine Dion or Britney Spears to pop out of the shower in a Vegas production. Is this luxurious bathroom where the hotel intends time to stand still?
Maybe the resort meant the activities, rather than bathroom extravagance.
What to do when it’s 104-degrees outside? The resort offered bicycles to peddle around on the surrounding landscaped trails. Nah, too hot. The pool? Let’s wait until evening when it cools down.
Hey! Let’s hit the spa.
The spa received us with serene flute music, or was it piano tunes? We checked-in, found our lockers, donned our plush robes and got ready for relaxation.
Soon I heard my name called before I could even taste the raspberry-pomegranate tea available in the lounge.
My esthetician placed cotton balls over my eyes and proceeded to pummel my face and body, explaining, “you’re tight.” I worried when she suddenly stopped. What’s she about to do next? Use a hatchet? Oh! Yikes! I’m on fire! The hot stone therapy had commenced and my body tried adjusting to the shock of the burning rock. The therapy lasted a minute or so before the pummeling resumed. My esthetician explained the fun things I could do after my relaxing spa session. She told me about the various nearby restaurants that host Happy Hour, where I could get a burger for $7 while listening to a live band. I wondered where the nearest hospital might be.
At the pool that evening, I pointed to a huge sign stating: “No diving!” Jodee said, “No kidding, you dive in that pool and it’s over. It’s only three-feet deep.”
“Only three feet!” I gasped. We squatted in the shallow pool, floating on bouncy, colorful pool noodles. The full moon illuminated the desert sky, dotted by fiery glints of stars. Palm trees and red bougainvilleas and pale-lilac mountains surrounded us. Mansions in the hills reflected gold light from spacious windows. A young couple at the other end of the pool kissed.
Jodee, Alvis, and I drifted quietly on pool noodles. I didn’t know what time it was or cared. Time stands still when you live in the moment.
Back at home I asked Jerry, “When are the times that time stood still for you?”
“Whenever I’m at the dentist,” he said.
No, I explained, that’s when time drags. I mean the fun times when you don’t think about time. “What about your first kiss? Did time stand still then?” I realized this was the first time I’d ever asked him this question.
“That would be Betty Bouchard,” he said with a longing gleam in his eye.
“How did it happen?” I wondered.
“We were at a high school football game.”
“Well, what? You were in the bleachers watching the game and then what?”
“Oh, we weren’t watching the game,” he said with a way-too-happy grin.
“Did you feel time standing still?” I asked.
“Not really. I was shy. It wasn’t the greatest moment.”
Excellent reply Jerry. This is why I love you.
Time standing still, of course, is all about perception. Sand drifting through an hour glass doesn’t stop because you’re first kiss causes fireworks. I sometimes wish time could have stopped forty years ago so I wouldn’t have to deal with motion-sensor faucets and an oven that turns a fan on and off at its own choosing.
I’ve come to realize the true joy of life is about people and living in the present. Not the past and not the future when time has you peering forward or backward. Time has no limit if you live right where you are, whether at a resort or in a public restroom waving your hands and doing a flap-your-arms dance in the hope the faucet will come on.
“Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life.”