It's the July 4th weekend. My wife, Kathy, and I have a bag full of red, white and blue pinwheels, some Stars and Stripes-brand snack cakes and a packet of mini-flags. We're nearly set for a holiday blowout in the country. Strangely, none of the stores is stocked with hot dogs or chips. No one around us seems to be doing the same.
"Never take a damaged marriage overseas," they told me at the spouse orientation the year my husband joined the Diplomatic Security Service. Diplomatic Security, or DSS, is a little-known branch of the State Department that is responsible, as the name suggests, for keeping diplomats and other Americans safe overseas.
The older I become, the more I have thought about Che Che and her life outside of me - her now-adult daughter Hazel back in Clark and their large, affectionate family I'd sporadically meet over pixelated Skype sessions. Not unlike my mother, as I came to learn more of her story, I realized there was some contentment to be found.
More expats live in Bangkok than in any other city in Southeast Asia. Who would retire to Bangkok? To answer that question, you need to spend some time here. Your first impressions of Bangkok likely will be that this is a huge city with some tourist attractions. If you stick around, though, your perception will change.
While I consider my former helper to be one of the most important figures in my life, I won't pretend that our relationship hasn't affected the broader family dynamic. A few years ago, for example, Che Che told me that our current helper, whom my sister and I call Che Che Miriam, didn't like her. "What makes you think that?" I said uncomfortably.