REPORT A PROBLEM
Chuck and I just spend two weeks in a very small studio apartment within a nice boutique hotel in West Hollywood. Originally intended to be condos, the market changed and they turned it into a hotel instead. Christmas is not a busy time for them, so we got a really good deal except for Dec. 30 & 31 which were double. New Year’s Eve being a very popular holiday. Chuck and I discovered that we could live in a very tiny space. And, we have found a new restaurant that will replace our old favorite, Craft...because Anna works there!
Last day in CA before the grand adventure! The big question as to whether the five of us get along in a two bedroom condo will be answered in just a few days. Life has been good in LA but neither of us is taken with the culture. I wish we could say that we would like to move there so we can be closer to the kids, but we just can't do it. I have so many friends whose eyes light up when we say we are going there for a visit and I just don't get it. YIKES!
The plane is full and Ava is loud. As Chuck says, “she has a voice that carries like yours!” Fred has been playing “tent” with the airline provided blanket. She loves ghosts and her daddy. It’s a five hour flight to Hawaii and we have one and a half more to go. Ava loves “aerflanes” and loves to travel. That is a very good thing considering that her father’s family is in Brazil which is a 12 hour plane ride from LA. She has flown to Baltimore, Seattle, Brazil and now Hawaii! This girl is a world traveller!
“I don’t want kids” says my son. Repeating that in front of his fiance right after a lovely dinner caused an emotional journey for them that I didn’t intend. Lots of crying and arguing with each other...talking with me on the phone to tell me how wrong it was of me (my husband agreed) then texting them both...then another phone call and talking to Kim. In the end they both agreed that this was a conversation that needed to happen and they didn’t blame me. I blamed myself because the conversation could've been another time.
The Honua Kai Resort is beautiful! It is an upper-middle-class place with lots of Canadians. Almost 99% white clientele. It is down-to-earth, not flashy at all. The entire wall of our living room opens onto the lanai which faces the grassy courtyard. The pools are to the left and the ocean just beyond it. We have a view of Molokai from our lanai. The weather is balmy and breezy. The sun is bright and the sky is deep blue with cumulus clouds floating by. There is a good restaurant and market on premises...life is good!
It is January and the weather is so beautiful! It is hard to believe that in other places it is cold. Baltimore is cold right now. It's hard to imagine living year round in a warm climate. This place is ever so much more beautiful than Southern CA and you can actually swim in the ocean! I want to do so many things while here, but I'm not going to get to so most of them because we are sharing a car. Fred took the car yesterday because "Jaws" 50 ft. waves on the north shore needed to be photographed.
We took an amazing drive yesterday, just Chuck and me, around the northwest portion of Maui. It was amazing! There were many miles of one lane roads where the speed limit was 5 miles per hour. Only a few houses interspersed and one small village nestled in a valley. We travelled through what seemed like 20 different micro-climates. From tropical to arid. We must come back in order to really explore the island because we won't get it all done this time. There are so many families with young children visiting this resort. Extremely family friendly which works well!
Chuck wants to move to the island! Seriously! Anna mentioned that she wanted to move here and Fred got excited about it. Then Chuck and I chimed in that it would be great for all of us to move here. Last night I asked Chuck if he really meant it and he said he did. Two nights ago I had a crazy dream that illustrated my anxiety attack about the idea of moving here. We have taken another drive to he southern part of the island -- Kiehle (densely populated and middle class) and Wailea (Beverly Hills-like). So much diversity.
Our last day on the island. Anna, Fred and Ava have gone to visit a surfer friend and his wife and children. Visit them at their house half way up the volcano and then a trip to the beach. Chuck and I have decided to return here for two weeks in June so we can look around and really get a feel for the place and decide where we want to rent when we move here in 2013. We're going to give ourselves a two-year minimum to see how we like it. June will be a non-resort venue.
Tomorrow is my sister Alex's birthday. She is 10 years and 10 days younger than me. I was so very excited when she was born because after three brothers I finally had a sister! She's the sibling I'm closest to. She is a widow, has two children and is in graduate school seeking her masters in psychology. Married at 19 to a Trinidadian of East Indian descent they waited for almost 20 years before having children. A heart attach at 39 kickstarted Navaal and Alex to reconcile differences and get on with their lives. Twelve years later another heart attack.
It's really 2012! I'm only just beginning to realize it. We've been in Hawaii and the sense of time was lost...so it's startling to me that it's the 11th and we are already on the way home. I can't quite believe that we were gone for three weeks. It's such a long time but it went by in a flash. I filled three weeks worth of those plastic daily medicine containers: Zetia and Niaspan for lowering cholesterol; Allegra for tempering allergies; and a huge assortment of vitamins and minerals. Each day I open a compartment and eat the pills.
Tomorrow we will close on the refinancing of our condo. We will save almost $500 per month! We do this by increasing the amount of the loan by $8,000 which is the cost of closing and reducing the rate by one and a half percent. Chuck is going to leave the firm at the end of the year. So, this is a huge benefit for us. It will allow us more flexibility in renting this condo when we move to Hawaii, which is the new plan. We will go back in May to investigate more of the islands. Hooray!
Today we closed on our refinancing. This would not be so extraordinary if we lived in a regular place, however, our condo is part of a "mixed use" structure which covers an entire city block. It includes 123 condo units; two Hilton hotels; an office building that houses Laureate's headquarters; Landmark Theatre with seven stadium seating screening rooms; Starbucks, Hagen Daz and Talara a Cuban fusion restaurant; and retail that includes a CVS, a chocolatier, a furniture store and numerous boutiques. Therefore, we didn't fit in the underwriting guidelines that Fannie Mae has created since the big housing finance debacle.
The AARP version of backpacking through Europe and Australia. That is the plan. It's a new awakening for us. Since my illness we've approached our next stage in life as "how to get closer to the kids?" and "what line of work will Chuck pursue post law?" Suddenly it's all about us, not them. It's very exciting. We married with two children still in tow: and 11 year old and a 16 year old. They were 10 and 15 when we met. We spent years juggling...keeping them on track for visits with their father and getting them properly educated.
Tomorrow is Martin Luther King's birthday. When you hear that man talk you can completely understand what a game changer he was. The two Kennedy's and King. The martyrs of our time. The tragedy of losing them has been felt throughout the years as we transition into a very polarized country of demagogs. The many changes taking place right now throughout the world is very interesting and requires notice. Burma's slow emergence to some enlightenment...Egypt's resistance to the continuing military control...the sub Saharan African turmoil continuing including Somalia without a government for 21 years...can you imagine that?
You know, when you meet and there are two teenagers involved and you have years of taking care of them...you've got parents in Baltimore and in Seattle needing care and feeding...it is years before you are through dealing with all of that. So, here we are almost 18 years later and have the ability to push beyond that experience and move to another world besides "tending" "caring" "nurturing" "assisting" etc. We are in a time when we can truly break away. A brand new opportunity for us to do what we want which was never before afforded us.
Today I received the third in a series of cortisone shots to my lower spine. My sciatic nerve has been wrecking havoc for years and it's finally come to this. The first one worked very well, the second didn't work and actually took me back as though nothing had been done at all. This third one already feels like it's working. It's raining outside and it's gloomy and gray. But, when you are 27 stories above street level there is a beauty in the view always, so I don't mind. I've got lots of indoor activities to keep me busy.
Families evolve and change. It is difficult to give up your fantasy, projection or vision of what that family is to be...become...achieve...realize. It is a challenge to evaluate everyone and imagine what the future brings. And, guess what? the future is not my problem. I have contributed what I have toward the future...the global future. Now I take responsibility for the future of myself. I will enjoy every day and moment of my life. I will do everything I can to support my children and husband. I will try to keep out of my kids' business.
My family arrived from Hungary to Canada in 1957 after the revolution of 1956. We moved to the US in 1963 after Kennedy was elected which was a huge reason my parents were willing to come here. They were so angry with Eisenhower because he left the Hungarians in a lurch (confirmed by a friend of mine who served in the CIA and saw the files) during the revolution. How my parents evolved from Kennedy Democrats to Reagan Republicans and then to Ross Perot Independents is crazy to me! I didn't know who my parents were and still struggle today.
Of course, in a family of seven children who span their birth over 16 years, living in five countries, with parents who changed their political perspective over time, it means that the kids grow up in households with different philosophical views. Ultimately the Catholic Church was the constant and yet even that institution changed dramatically from the Vatican that defended the Crown of St. Stephen from the communists, to Pope John XXIII who presided over Vatican II that called for an ecumenical world where religions sought common ground rather than differences -- it is the same spirit that prompted the "Hippies".
So who would have imagined that the Catholic Church would, today, be the restrictive institution that does not want their employees having the benefit of contraceptives? The Vatican II ecumenical "Kumbaya" world of John XXIII dissolved in a world that has retracted into conservatism. I was truly troubled and had to laugh when Pope Benedict, sitting in his golden throne in the middle of the highly glittery Vatican wearing his golden threaded robes announce that he was disturbed by the commercial "glittery Christmas" and that it should be abolished. There is no more glittery model of ostentatious showmanship than him!!!!
My family will flourish, but not as my parents had imagined. There will be branches of this family establishing themselves throughout the country in different regions. My brother, Steve, is doing some very detailed work on family history on all sides of all of the siblings, their spouses and grandchildren. This will be very important as time goes on because it will help any of the future generations trace their roots to the same family origins. Unfortunately, there will not be any family reunions after my mother's 80th birthday that I can see. The family is disconnected and quite divided.
It's not to say that there is not love within the family because there is love in the larger cosmic scale. It's not based on loving individuals in a true loving way. And, there is lots of dislike for personalities and major contradictions in political allegiances. My parents chose not to confront individual children with issues that were unpleasant and chose not to bring the whole clan together and lay down the law as to how everyone was to behave around those issues. Instead, they dealt with everyone individually and allowed deep divisions to fester. We are a divided family.
We are moving to Hawaii! How amazing is that? On our adventure to discover where in Los Angeles we could tolerate living we decided that we really couldn't so it was either Seattle or stay in Baltimore. So we arrive in Hawaii and Chuck is sold! And it makes so much sense. It's a destination place for our friends and family like Maryland never was (although we did have lots of visitors). Mostly, the kids will always be interested in a vacation in Hawaii and as long as we can afford to fly them to visit all will be well!
When I was in junior high school I would be grounded regularly for numerous infractions: smoking; lying about where I was; and bad grades. I was grounded a good deal of the time, actually, so it's pretty amazing to me that I have memories of activities outside the house or without my family because grounding didn't exclude family events. We never had any money for anything but basics so when we learned how to sew on a machine in home economics I quickly began sewing all my clothes. Our neighbor let me use her machine. Then I got my own!
It's amazing how much more control over my life I gained by sewing. It meant having fashionable clothes at the same cost as dowdy ones. In the 1960s fabric was not very expensive, but labor was, so by making the clothes yourself it was affordable. Today the fabric is quite expensive and overseas labor is cheap, so it makes no sense to sew for yourself for financial reasons, only for creative or crafty reasons. By the time I got to high school I was sewing clothes for my younger sisters, too. Every Christmas they received matching outfits I made secretly.
There were many magical times with your father. We really did love each other so very much. It was painful to know that he was gay and I was not a man. We tried so hard over the years to adjust to adapt to morph to evolve but we always landed squarely back to the reality of it all. You denied your mental illness for so many years confusing it with artistry and emotion and talent and passion. Your manic depressive nature made it possible for a burst of glorious work to emerge from your soul and then shut down.
Days and weeks of working harder than he's worked in a year, my husband is looking forward to when he is not working anymore. Being a bartender in Maui sounds about right to him. Mixology school is coming right up! He's always loved school, but it's the academic side of things that attract him. Now he is working out every day and his goal is to be able to ride his bike around Maui without struggle. Spin classes next. Not so academic, but imagine being a beach bum...riding a bike, swimming in the ocean, reading books an tending bar.
A 35 year old and a 30 year old. They are my children. When I was their ages I had already lived several lives it seemed to me. And there have been many more since then. And, for the first time in a long time I believe there are more to come. I'm excited about life in a way I've not been before. While thinking of how to sustain a career that I no longer wanted I got sick. Isn't that convenient? It forced me to think differently and so I did...and so now I am free to explore.
So, I said to you (or rather I emailed) that your spiritual and prayerful journey to South Africa would be a life altering experience. To which you replied "How many more do I need?" and I answered "Whatever it takes." I want life altering experiences until the day I die. Death is actually the quintessential life altering experience. I am ready for it. Once you've really faced death and know that you can deal with it then life is a rediscovered adventure. "I look at life from both sides now" has new meaning. In one more year the journey changes.
My brother is moving to Reno, Nevada to be with the love of his life...his first love...the one in high school that didn't quite work out. But, now, after each of them were married to another for 33 years exactly, they have rediscovered one another and rekindled that love. My brother is complicated. He is moving without a job to a place where unemployment is very high and foreclosures huge. Wishing him happiness and good fortune. I'm hopeful. Reno is very dry and hot. It will be good for his lungs that are weak -- cold and humidity kill.
The Tip Jar