I think I have briefly made mention of it in previous posts, but I will go into greater detail today since not much is happening on the home front. In 1994 I was in college at Florida State University in Tallahassee studying fine art. I wasn’t all that sure what I wanted to do with my life at that point, and was searching for a way out of school. That summer, my grandma took me, my mom, my aunt, my sister and two cousins on a cruise. We stopped for one day in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the wheels in my head began to spin. A few weeks after we got back from the cruise, I decided I was going to move to St. Thomas. I didn’t know anyone there, I was nineteen and had almost no money. It was the only time in my life that I could do something like that, and I seized the opportunity. I bought a one-way ticket and had $300 to get started on the island. I am pretty sure everyone thought I was crazy. When I look back now, I see how insane it was, and am kind of sorry that I put my parents through it, because they must have worried a lot. Still, they let me do what I had to do. I looked at it like this; I would go and see if I could survive on my own, and if I couldn’t I could always come back and call the whole experiment a “vacation.” Well, I ended up staying for over a year, about a year and a quarter. I look back at it now as an excellent exercise in finding myself and confidence building and I wouldn’t be the person I am without the experience. I really have no regrets about it aside from making my parents worry. I got to do incredible things like motor yacht and sail on an Olympic racing catamaran, helicopter around and island hop in small planes. I lived in a really cool simple little house tucked away on the side of a mountain with the most gorgeous beach at the base of it. I hitchhiked all over the island and worked in stores selling jewelry and in bars serving cocktails. But mostly, I played. And it was fun.
When I worked in the jewelry stores, we would get lots of customers from the many cruise ships that would come in every day. People would come in and say to me “you don’t have the accent (like the locals), where are you from?” and I would tell them my story and they would always say “I wish I did something like that when I was your age.” So now I will never have to be one of those people who “wishes” they had an adventure like mine. I did it! By the way, I wasn’t the only one- there were a couple hundred of regular American kids in their late teens or twenties that had done exactly the same thing I had. These were the people that became my friends on the island.
I ended up leaving in November of 2005, after Hurricane Marilyn devastated the island. It just wasn’t much fun after that with no power or anything, and it was to be months or years before it was restored. It was time for me to get back to the real world.
This is the view from the little house in the Virgin Islands. Pretty incredible, isn’t it? The two islands in the distance are Inner and Outer Brass Islands.
Here’s me in my little house in St. Thomas. It was all wood, and one room except the bathroom and there was a screened porch on the front of it. There was no A/C, just a ceiling fan, but it was plenty cool enough. The shower was actually outside, on a big rock outside the bathroom, with wooden slats all around it. There was a tree growing there that you could hang your shampoo and conditioner on. You can see the wood slats of the shower right behind me out the window in the picture.