San Diego Cinderella

On our Italian tour last year, we took trains from La Spezia to Genoa to Milan to Venice, passing Verona on the way. This week for our anniversary, we followed our hearts back. Longing for piazzas, basilicas, and doumos, we decided to revel in the balconies and tombs of Verona and, consequently, the passion, the pageantry, the drama, and the death that is Romeo and Juliet.

I may have mentioned: Italy feels just like home.

I’ve never been to Balboa Park’s Old Globe Theater. Like a star-crossed lover, I always passed by offering terms of endearment and wistful looks but never stopped to embrace it. It was easy to be seduced by Shakespeare. I painted my toenails in anticipation.

I wore the same dress – strictly for the memory – that I wore to the opera in Sorrento. Remember that night? So does my dress. But alas, the pink stilettos from that adventure are no more for this world. I wore the understudy for tonight’s trip to Verona.

Our first stop of the evening was a romantic restaurant on the harbor. I sipped sangria, nibbled chicken salad, and watched the pretty boats sail by on the late summer breeze. In case this was not enough to set the stage, a fat pale moon rose slowly over the San Diego skyline as the sun began its descent in the west. Our waitress presented creme brûlée, a delicately crisped, creamy concoction that curled my toes. A lot. More than average, apparently.

Hand in hand, Hubby and I sauntered from the restaurant, admiring the tiki torches, admiring each other.

“Clomp, clomp, flop,” went something on the sidewalk.

“Flip, flap, flop,” went the next three steps.

And then, without provocation, one of my shoes decided to throw a fit. “I bite my thumb in your general direction sir!” cried my right shoe.

And in the very next step, the entire bottom of my shoe flew off. Off. The valets and restaurant patrons might not have noticed, had I not burst into hysterical laughter. I had to decide: stop in the middle of the sidewalk and retrieve the errant brick or continue to the car walking like I was on a carousel ride.

I guess I did both. Safely tucked into the car, with no time to spare, we drove to the theater weighing our options. Now, I’ve heard rumors that some ladies keep spare shoes in their cars. They probably keep spare feet in their cars. I am not that lady. Neither do I keep crazy glue nor pliers in my glove compartment. Um, or gloves, now that I think about it.

“What should I do? Can I sneak in barefoot?”

The light turned red. A train went by. Another sigh for Italy escaped me, and we kept driving.

“There’s nowhere to park,” said Hubby, “It starts in ten minutes and we haven’t gotten tickets yet!”

I was bent over what was left of the shoes, still attached to my feet, “Go for it,” I grunted, “we’re doing this!”

Looking neither to the right nor to the left, heads high, we hustled from the parking lot to the ticket stand to the entry to some nice seats…and only then did I take a breath and look down.

These were the ugliest flats on the face of the earth. I traced my finger over one thin strap muttering in Italian. The bright moon rose overhead, lending its glow to the outdoor theater lights, illuminating the stage of Verona. The stage comprised of…a sandbox? I flipped through the program.

Apparently, this year’s director envisioned Shakespeare’s tragedy in sand.

All of the actors were costumed to their ankles, and…barefoot. The beautifully talented Juliet sang a rousing rendition of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. Teenagers brawled in the alleys. Adults marched around telling everyone what to do. Romeo slumped along with his guitar declaring that without his true love, life – hallelujah – wasn’t worth anything at all.

The main characters get married whilst still children.

Nobody really relaxes until they’re dead.

And nobody can figure out what all the fighting was about.

Like I said, Italy feels just like home.

As we gave them a standing round of applause, I recalled my wobbly circumstances. What was a pair of shoes measured against an amorous tryst under an enchanted moon? An embrace on the balconies of Europe with Prince Charming?

Prince C hazarded a quick look at my feet and grimaced as a very unromantic thought escaped.

This dazzling night was going to end where all good affairs end: a serious flirtation with a new pair of glass slippers.


San Diego at the harbor

Spreckles organ pavilion

Museum of Art

Old Globe Theater

Romeo and Juliet


Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Date Night Dallies

The long San Diego summer days are sauntering towards a suggestion of fall.

Although our weather will be warm for another two months, the kids are back in school and the malls are geared up for HallThankMas Eve. And while our sprawling San Diego County has myriad year round entertainment to choose from, summer nights seem to hold more hours in them.

I want to take a moment to remember a wandering date night last month before rushing head-long into the jumbled rest of my calendar.

Try this some time.

We hit the happy hour at the Brigantine in Del Mar. Sit outside at the narrow bar facing the race tracks.

Watch a couple races. Watch a train go by. Watch the moon rise.

Watch the hot air balloons in the distance. Be glad you’re not in one.

Order a spinach salad, two fish tacos, and a house margarita in a shaker.

Watch the lid.

Hop in the car and head south, crossing up and over the Coronado Bay Bridge as the sun lowers towards the horizon.

Whoever is driving, watch the road.

The other guy (that’s me) gets an incredible view of sailboats, sunset, and downtown.

Make a mental note to check out the new library down there that looks like a giant birdcage.


Drive down to the Hotel Del and park on the street at a meter. It’s free after 6pm.

Stroll around the Del. Pretend you’re staying there and mingle in the lobby and admire the elevator cage. Wander out back to the Grille and buy a coffee. Then meander down the walkway to the beach.

There will be a wedding party on the sand to admire, with chandeliers hanging from organza swathed gazebos and a seven-tiered cake surrounded by elegant bridesmaids dressed in periwinkle blue.

Stroll the length of the boardwalk and back, reminiscing about your own honeymoon there…a million years ago was it?

Breathe in the sea air.

Feel young and fresh and ready for the world and then immediately thankful for all of the hurdles the world threw at you that are now in your past. And not still in front of you. And that you made it this far.

Hop back in the car and head back over the bridge and up towards Mission Bay.

If you turn onto Fiesta Island and park, you will be treated to a massive fireworks display at 10pm nightly, courtesy of Sea World.

Lean against the hood of your car, wrapped up in a blanket for two, and watch the spectacle.

Hold hands.

Toodle down the freeway, heading for home.

Discuss whether you’re up for dessert or not.

Discuss it some more as you get into town.

End up at The Cheesecake Factory. They are open almost as late as an IHOP.

Have a slice of cheesecake extremely worthy of tomorrow’s work-out. Enjoy every last crumb.

Wonder why you don’t do this more often.

And then remember why as you’re licking the plate.

Watch your waistline, watch your bedtime, watch your summer slip away like sand at high tide.

But take a moment when you get it, and frame it and you can watch it for the rest of your life.