Welcome to Palm Springs

This morning, as I was sweeping the lizards out of the apartment, it occurred to me that this was not covered in the “Welcome to your new community!” brochure I was handed along with the counter-signed copy of my lease. I mean, there are pluses and minuses to various approaches. Do you use the big, outdoors-use push broom and just apply brute force? Or do you select the kitchen broom, wielding it with short, brisk motions that guide the lizards to freedom? What you don’t want, I can assure you, is a dead lizard in your living room.

I moved to Palm Springs when Jessica finished her program earlier this summer. She had always planned to join me in California, but my tiny studio in LA wasn’t big enough for both of us, and in Palm Springs we’re able to rent a beautiful two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with covered parking, plus front porch and back patio, for less than I was paying for three hundred square feet of living space in LA.

Palm Springs is a resort community, but it is much less expensive than LA for a few excellent reasons, which are collectively known as “the summer months.” The first day that it reached one-hundred-twenty degrees, Jessica said, “I didn’t think it could actually get that hot outside. On earth, I mean.”

To which I replied, “It’ll cool off by the weekend; look, it’s only going to be one-oh-nine on Saturday.”

Desert living takes a little getting used to. For example, the way the heat sucks all the moisture out of your eyeballs means that you typically carry Refresh eye drops tucked in your bag—although not, it probably goes without saying, your car; any liquid left in your car will not after a few hours resemble the liquid you originally left there.

Then there is the way you have to recalibrate your knowledge of the natural world. I’m used to the gray shapes scampering up tree trunks being squirrels; yet the gray shapes scampering up tree trunks in Palm Springs are not squirrels; they are not even mammals.

There is an actual road runner living at the apartment complex, and he seems extremely puzzled about why he is here. He wanders around looking at things as if they weren’t what he expected to find. I don’t know what he thinks should be here. If he were wearing a suit, he would be saying to himself, “Did I get off on the wrong floor?” I keep waiting for Wile E. Coyote to turn up, but he never does.