When I was in elementary school, my dad went out on a limb and starting his own consulting firm. It turned out to be a very good thing for my family, and he was very successful until his retirement. The down side was how much he traveled. The upside was that sometimes we got to travel with him. At one point he secured a contract with a hotel and later the government in the United States Virgin Islands. He created a trade with a luxury hotel on St. Thomas, and so for several years, my mother and I would join him there for vacations. It was my first island hopper flight, first filet mignon, first shrimp cocktail, first roasted pig snout, first caviar - we had to try it in the years where Tom Hanks had wiped it off his tongue so hilariously in the movie, Big - and lots and lots of virgin strawberry daiquiries. Everytime a server brought us another daiquiri or a hamburger bigger than my head for which there would be no tab, my mother would wisely remind me, "This isn't real life, Sweetie."
Sometimes we would go into Charlotte Amalie to see the cruise ships and visit the shops in the historic district. You could see Blackbeard's Castle in the distance, and I was just sure that on the next corner some poor villager was being dunked in a wine barrel like the ride from Disneyland, Pirates of the Caribbean. The alleys even smelled like old pirates. Small lizards skulked everywhere and the colors of corals and oranges and greens were impressed on my young mind.
But my favorite thing to do was live, quite literally, in my swimsuits. My favorite one was my Coca Cola swimsuit. I remember a few arguments with my mother that not only did I have to shower before going to dinner, but I had to put on actual real clothes. It felt strange to feel a shirt on my shoulders after wearing a swimsuit all day, and sometimes nights too, but don't tell my mom.
Karma in so many ways is getting back at me. My own daughter is a discussion for another day, but for the last several years we have been able to take our own children to Disneyland for free, thanks to my brother. As a result, they have it in their minds that everyone goes once a year. We walk around having paid no hotel fee since family lives so close, having paid no entrance fee and often buying a souvenir at my brother's discount. I find myself running up to those sticky faces and wisely reminding them, "This isn't real life guys."
So this block is for my parents. Thank you for taking me colorful places. Thank you for not being bitter that this surprise caboose was ruining your romantic later years when you could have been done parenting nine year olds. Thank you for making me shower, and thanks for letting me try the caviar. You were right. It was gross.
This block was inspired by this photo online. You'll have to scroll down a bit, and it's on the left. Enjoy scenes of the Caribbean.