For those of you who don't know the distinction, there is a high and low desert in California. The high desert is Hesperia and beyond off of the Interstate 15 North and the low desert is Palm Springs and beyond off the 10 (East) freeway. Calling the Interstate 10 freeway by its numerical designation with a "the" in front of it is the California way of saying it.
My father-in-law Alberto bought a ranch house in the high desert in Hesperia about six months before he died. Alberto became obesessed with remodeling the house. It was like he was in a race. With the help of a contractor, Alberto gutted the entire interior and put in red and white tile in the living room and family room. He bought dark wood floors for all of the bedrooms and painted the white walls with bright colors.
Alberto stained the fence and outdoor bar a warm brown and planted palm trees by the stone rock pool. In a mere six months, the house was coming together. Alberto and Orieta started moving their clothes over from the West Covina house. They planned on moving in the next weekend.
Then Alberto died. Orieta walked into his bedroom at their house in West Covina and found him dead in his bed. His arms were crossed over his heart. I was in court all morning with my phone turned off and it took two hours for the police to reach me. Orieta's neighbor held her hand while the police questioned her. I drove over to their house in a panic. I called my brother-in-law Vinnie who tried to calm me down. My hands were shaking as I pulled over to have Adran paged at his office When his assistant put him on the phone, I didn't have to say a word because Adrian knew.
The last nine months, the house has fallen into disrepair. Adrian stops by after work sometimes, but the weeds have taken over and the pool is a slight greenish color. The wood floors have a coat of dust.
Last night, I drove the moms out to the Hesperia house and Adrian met us there after work. We went out to dinner at Steer and Stine, a local IE steakhouse. We played Apples to Apples and I took a Tylenol PM to fall asleep. Adrian and I took the master bedroom and in the morning, I got up early and walked outside. Adrian was already up and testing the water of the pool with a PH kit.
"We slept in the same bed my dad died in," Adrian said looking at me.
"I wish you hadn't told me that," I said.
"It doesn't bother me," Adrian said and shook his head as he looked out at the mountains. "It's father's day weekend."
My husband has always been a bit morbid. It is probably what attracted me to him. I am a former Goth girl. I think what he was getting at is that he feels closer to his father out there in the high desert. Alberto may be dead, but his project lives on.