My name is Simon. The stamps in my passport (three) currently outnumber the teeth in my mouth (zero).
My Pops and Nana grew up and got married in New Orleans, Louisiana, eating bowls of spicy seafood gumbo and clamoring for shiny beads during Mardi Gras. When they were only twenty-six years old, my Pops came home from work one day and said, “Honey, I’m being transferred. We can move to Morgan City, or we can start a new life in Rio de Janeiro.” With a three-month-old in tow (my mom!), my grandparents left everything they knew for the party capital of the world. A family of globe trotters was born.
Over the next sixteen years, my grandparents learned Portuguese and had my aunt in Brazil, spent two years riding camels between the pyramids in Cairo, and went wadi-bashing and gave birth to my other aunt in Dubai. In between, my mom first tried mouth-puckering salmiak at her best friend’s home in Viken, Sweden, and her high school basketball team played tournaments in Kuwait and Jordan. When they relocated to the suburban tropics of Houston, Texas, my mom and aunties thought that was the most foreign place yet.
Mom and Dad still hadn’t met, but by college their adventuresome stars were already aligning. My dad spent the summer before his freshman year surfing and spear fishing in Mexico, and later earned his captain’s license sailing boats along the Pacific coast. The summer she turned 21, my mom paid for many a meal of baguette and gooey fromage by working as a bicycle tour guide in Paris. After graduating, Mom moved to California to teach low-income children and eventually earned her degrees in law and social work so she could advocate for foster kids’ right to a quality education. Dad spent several glamorous years managing Barry Manilow (hum Copacabana and his left eye twitches) and flying to and from London and Sydney. My parents met and fell in crazylove in Los Angeles and traveled all over North and Central America before my dad tired of Hollywood and went back to school to become a neuroeconomist.
A few years later, my dad proposed in front of family and friends wearing a full-body gorilla suit. They got married in the starkly beautiful high desert of Bend, Oregon, and spent their honeymoon SCUBA diving in Belize and sweating in the wilderness of Guatemala. I was born with a breakfast taco in my hand in the rolling hill country of Austin, Texas. We celebrated my three-month birthday driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, my four-month birthday doing the fais do-do with my great-Granny in New Orleans, and my five-month birthday staring out the window of the Eurostar between London and Paris. In less than one month, we’re moving to our nation’s capital. My dad says I’m “myelinating my synapses’ axons”…I’m just enjoying the view from my stroller.