“Let’s Thai One On”
New Year’s Day is a good time to reflect on the past year. The house is very quiet because the “family” is more spread around the world than ever. For this crowd, the definition of “home” shifts week by week. Home is often in the mountains, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Belize, Hong Kong, or Thailand. Intermittent togetherness means every family occasion is that much more meaningful while we prepare for the reality of a truly empty (and, if Billy gets his way, a smaller, lower maintenance) nest.
Jensen and Sarah decided that potty training would be more fun in paradise, so they adjusted their latitude to 16° and took over the management of Thatch Caye in Belize. Walker (2.75) and Marshall (1.50) are island boys with two dogs and hundreds of hermit crabs for pets – and about 30 full-time parents. This arrangement gives Gigi and Bully an excuse to visit (not that we really needed one.) It is not apparent to us that either boy has worn a stitch of clothing in six months. Shoes and pants are foreign concepts to them. Gigi keeps feeding little Marshall healthy doses of Marie Sharps Habanero Hot Sauce. “It’s good for him,” she says.
2015 was the year that Charisse transitioned from poor college student to poor working girl. Tulane sent her packing with honors and accolades, but New Orleans is home and tough to leave. She is serving in an AmeriCorps program in a high school helping kids with behavioral problems. Eligibility for food stamps is part of the compensation package. We keep up with her by following her on Twitter. Apparently, she is on a quest to save the world or at least create a viral Hotline Bling video. Her hair was its natural color for 357 days of the year. She figures that she needs to go back to school while she is still good at living on the poverty line.
Well into her sophomore year at Stanford, Cheyenne is loving life and living large. She claims that she studies all the time, but she seems to know an awful lot about Cardinal football, Spurs basketball, Star Wars, SCUBA diving, Palo Alto eateries, and the best routes to Half Moon Bay. Mom and dad are happy to visit, although it would be easier if she would meet us somewhere between SFO and Napa Valley. While she is ostensibly studying chemistry, she is a ardent feminist, budding philosopher and social commentator. Follow the hashtag #shitcheyennesays for a taste of her freely dispensed wisdom. The force is strong with this one.
Jacob is swimming through his senior year. No college selection has yet been made, but we are hoping he goes to an engineering school that will, once and for all, answer the question, “is a shit ton more than a butt load?” An independent traveler, he successfully talked his way into both Japan and Thailand this summer without incident. As the “good boy” among his group of friends, he is readily adopted by multiple families in town. We don’t mind sharing, but his mother wants him back for an occasional visit. There are just a few more weeks in swim season, then a slow walk to graduation and a certain future in a yet-to-be-named field of study.
The pending change in Richele’s parental status is pushing her to explore new ways to fill a day. There always seems to be a new fitness craze to try – multiple forms of yoga and pilates, ballroom dancing, body pump, and something called KokoFit. This is all just a way to support her new daily habit of drinking high-end cabernets. Like habanero hot sauce, she read an article that said wine “is good for you.” The fall turned her into an avid hunter of feral hogs. She wanted to kill the ones that tore up the yard, but then learned that you have to stay up past 8:30pm and quickly gave up that pursuit. Gigi has got it goin’ on, but the hogs are safe.
Billy lives life “off the leash,” splitting his time between Kalypso, Stelos, Housley, and Muy-Ono – the ever expanding dominion in southern Belize. We are up to three islands, one beautiful beach resort, a SCUBA business, a fly fishing operation, and Billy’s Beach Bar. There is talk of more to come using the “economies of scale” justification for otherwise irrational decisions. The name of his boat is “Weak Moment”. That seems apropos of the entire enterprise. There was one afternoon this fall that he admitted to being tired. We thought this might be a turning point from a flash of self-awareness, but after a quick nap he was up and at it again.
We enticed the kids into a couple of weeks of togetherness by taking everyone to Hong Kong and Thailand this summer. After daily $4 massages and $13 multi-course meals for five, we were ready to relocate permanently. On the other end of the spectrum, we all spent Thanksgiving in Manhattan so our average trip costs are probably normal. Other travels took us to Deer Valley (ask Billy about his ankle), New Orleans (ask Richele about her toe), Napa (where we ate at The French Laundry and McDonalds in the same night), Keystone, Palm Beach, Monterrey (the one in Mexico), and at least ten trips to Belize with various groups of friends.
In retrospect, the year was full of laughter, love, and lots and lots of air miles. We are all on a journey to an unknown destination. Sometimes we get a little tired, but the momentum is always forward. The ability to look back on these experiences with satisfaction is like living them twice. I guess that is what it is all about. Like Tramp, (from Lady and…) we are looking “beyond those distant hills.” We may be striving for something undefinable, but there is a purpose to this frenzied, frenetic approach. We continue to discover new places, people and things in this great and wonderful world. Come with us and let us show the parts we like the most.