For about nine months out of the year, I feel blessed to live where I live, in this laid-back, cultured little college town in the South. Then January blows in, and my mood sours; by February, existential dread has seized me in its cold, clammy paws, attempting to pin me down on my bed every cloudy morning. Come March, my moods swing along with the erratic weather patterns. The winters here are admittedly shorter and milder than many PMQ readers experience, but, to me, they drag on and on, like death by ants.
Every winter, I think back to my early days in journalism, when I kept coming across ads for a reporter job at a weekly newspaper in the Virgin Islands and my mind would drift off into sun-soaked fantasy. I envisioned snapping photos at the boat races on balmy February afternoons or padding around in sandals on my way to a school board meeting. But the reveries always gave way to reality and the near-certainty that I’d end up living under a tarpaulin on some wrecked kayak, stealing mangoes for my lunch, with the salary I’d make at a weekly newspaper. And all the pretty local island girls would just snicker at me behind my back.
I never took the chance. I don’t regret that, but I’m not exactly proud of my chicken-hearted decision either. I admire people with adventurous spirits, like Tara and Sasha Bouis, the founders of Pizza Pi VI, this month’s cover subject (“Rocking the Boat,” page 34). Anyone who starts a restaurant takes a big risk, of course, but Tara, a former Indiana schoolteacher, and Sasha, an ex-Wall Street hotshot, really rolled the dice when they packed up and moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands. And when they left the charter boat biz to start a new pizza shop, they took an even crazier risk by housing it on a boat in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
Their story is an inspiring one, proving that, with strong culinary skills, adept marketing, hard work and a lot of moxie, you can build a thriving business that suits your personality, even if you’re a beach bum at heart, like me. Wintertime notwithstanding, I’m a bit too complacent and lazy to make such a move myself now, but I hope you will read the Bouises’ story and realize you’re never stuck with what you’ve got and where you are. If you can dream it, you can do it.