Desert Holiday

Or maybe I should say holidays. This year, during my brief desert vacation, Passover, Easter, Coachella, Earth Day and 420 Day are all being celebrated. It certainly makes for a culturally rich experience, something people don’t often say about time spent in SoCal.

It’s been more than 35 years since I first visited Palm Springs and I’ve definitely witnessed some changes through the years. The city has always had a certain swankiness that feels exotic and exciting to me and that remains, but I’ve also seen an element of flash & trash rear up (think Kardashians) which is less appealing. 

The issues of homelessness and litter and vacant commercial properties are present in this desert paradise just as they are in other cities in our country. Despite a density of public trash cans like I’ve seen no where else, garbage is on sidewalks and aloft in the desert winds, almost suggesting an intentionality which I interpret as a tension between the haves and the have nots.

Palm Springs feels a bit more grounded in reality these days.

Bare tracts of land, presumably destined to be residential housing, retail stores, hotels or yet another casino, remain within blocks of the Palm Canyon “strip.” Of course, there used to be even more undeveloped desert when I first visited in the mid 80s, but there also, as I recall, was more green grass as people irrigated and cultivated lawns that did not belong in this arid and hot area. More natural landscapes, comprised of native plants, rocks and cacti, are now more prevalent, and much less disruptive to the eye.

The brightest pops of color this trip have been these yellow flowered trees and the Coachella “kids” parading around town in their festival outfits. Picture lots of crocheted clothing worn over bikinis, cropped tops and an array of piercings and tattoos. The people watching, in general, has been rich. It’s easy to distinguish between the locals in their light, but long, layers and the visitors reveling in the feel of sun on their exposed skin. The tell tale stripes on my poorly sunscreened shoulders tells the story of the camp to which I belong.

The week has flown by at a speed that leaves me breathless and I’m sad, despite celebrating every one of those aforementioned holidays, at the thought of leaving. Holidays come each year, but I know they’ll never be quite the same again. I hope you enjoyed yours as much as I did mine.

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