Good Day Loved Ones,
Thanks for checking in for another Islander Feature Friday! Let me begin as usual by introducing my delightful guest- Kelly. She’s also our first St. Johnian to chime in on island life! Kelly and I met through Freshwater Church. She attended our youth/young adult sessions shortly after we started them up in St. John. Our first meeting went a little like this:
Me- “Hi, I’m Megan!”
Kelly- “Hi, I’m Kelly!”
Me- “What brought you to the island?”
Kelly- “I work for the National Park.”
Me- “How long will you be here?”
Kelly- “At least a year. I may sign a two year contract if I like it.”
Me- “Do you like it?”
Kelly- “Yea I think I’ll probably stay.”
Me- “I have like two friends here. Will you be my friend?”
Kelly- “For sure!”
Me- “We’re best friends now.”
And so we are. Kelly is my friend that is always “down for whatever.” We both share a twisted humor full of movie references, random lyrics, Disney, and dark thoughts. We’ve celebrated two Thanksgivings together (one of which she helped me prepare), she’s well acquainted with mom, and most significantly I’ve had the privilege of the getting a text from her after a first date to the receiving a of pic of the ring from him right after purchase. And in February DJ will be officiating Kris and Kelly’s wedding!
I keep all of my food in the refrigerator. All of it. Sure, milk, eggs, and cheeses are in there because they need to be cold. However, it’s also where I keep peanut butter, pancake batter, uncooked pasta, and the rest of my food. Why? Because of the ants. Well, the roaches too…and the mice, but mostly the ants.
Living in the VI is a love-hate relationship. It is lovely; there is no debating that. There is nothing quite like snorkeling with sting rays and sea turtles, which you can do on any given day. Then again, there is also nothing like going to Real America and having Papa John’s deliver a pizza to you. That’s the dream. Food. Delivery. Service. (Cue salivating.) We don’t have that here, not on St. Thomas, and not on my little island of St. John. *(Except we do have Domino’s in St. Thomas, and they do deliver- provided they can find you because we don’t have addresses- as Kelly learned today!)
St. John is the island just east of St. Thomas. So when I am returning home from a trip to Real America, and the airplane lands on St. Thomas, I don’t think to myself, ‘I’m home.’ Instead I think, ‘two more hours…sigh.’ You see, by the time I pick up my checked bag (you know, the one stocked full of items like soap, sunscreen, shampoo, cleaning sponges, etc. that are so much cheaper in Real America), then take a taxi and a ferry, walk across town to my car, and drive home, it’s about two hours later. It’s exhausting.
I’ve lived on island for almost two years now. Unlike most people I’ve met here, I did not quit my job and sell all my worldly possessions to move to the VI. No, my boss called me up one day to ask me to relocate here. To help. Because work, work is hard to get done here. Between overcoming the ‘we’ll get to it when we get to it’ attitude of the locals, the time to receive parts, getting them through Customs, on a barge, and over to St. John, it’s easy to expend all your energy before the actual work on site even begins.
To be fair, I was warned. They warned me about the work ethic, cost of living, what it means when someone sucks their teeth at you (it’s nothing nice), the heat, the tourists, and the donkeys.
At the end of the day, it is all about perspective. I work a standard 40-hour workweek: 8 hours, Monday through Friday. I’m off work in time for happy hour, or to go for a swim or a run before the sun sets. I came to the most challenging work environment I’ve ever been in, in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
Sometimes after a long day, as I’m sure you can relate, I want comfort food or even to try a new recipe I found. That’s great. We have three grocery stores on the Cruz Bay side of the island. Be prepared to go to ALL three to maybe find everything you need. Note: these are not large stores; each is at most the size of gas station convenience store. What about the grocery store on the East End you say? Well, the road to get to the other side* is 11 miles long, and the speed limit is 20MPH. It takes the better part of 45 minutes to get there. Keep in mind, that’s one way. For someone who has a three-minute commute to work, which let’s be honest is mostly parking and dodging wildlife, it’s quite far.
*The reference to the chicken crossing the road joke was intentional. We have chickens. They cross the road in front of me all the time. I now assume the answer to the riddle is ‘so I don’t hit them with my car.’
That’s life, island style.
Fun Times with Kelly:
My world will crumble yet again when Kelly & Kris finally leave island, but we already have a standing date to go to Disney World in 2020 🙂 Thanks for visiting & sharing with us in a piece of island life! See you next Friday for one more IFF before we head to NYC!