St. John: Unleashed.

This morning I ran into some goats while I was walking to work, and then into some baby chicks eating a chicken wing- which I’m still not ok with- but it has inspired me to share a few pictures of my friends with fins, fur & feathers. I definitely don’t react to seeing chickens or lizards anymore, but I can say I do still get excited when I see goats or cows just walking down the street. They’re so cool. Did you see a pig on your way to work this morning? No? Well, neither did I but I probably will on my way home.

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I’m going to assume they were play fighting and that I won’t come home to a dead goat body outside of my front door. 

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The lizards love to hang out on our window screens so I’m used to seeing them within a few feet of my bed, but when they cross the barrier is when I become less ok with them. I like to look at them but they move too fast which freaks me out. I’m more of a leisurely-moving-animal-admirer. So this guy needed to exit my home, so I took a dish towel and knocked him on the floor which I felt extremely guilty about, and then nudged him on out the door. I hope he’s ok, I really do, but I just couldn’t take the chance of waking up with a lizard on my face. I mean who wants to start the day out like that?

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I have been snorkeling several times and have had my fair share of run-ins with turtles, but this past weekend was my first time when I actually had my underwater camera on me so I was REALLY excited to get some pictures of these guys. Honestly, they absolutely amaze me. They are so shiny and beautiful and they swim through the water so calmly and gracefully. It is such a blessing to be able to swim around with them in their home and just watch them bob up and down and graze through the bottom of the floor. It’s so. freakin. cool. I hope I never become too spoiled by this island to get over being amazed by them.

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Not going to lie, still hold a grudge against these guys for taking Steve Irwin out. I mean I know THIS specific ray was not responsible for the whole ordeal but what can I say? I was a big fan. Anyways, these guys are actually really cool and they way their bodies move throughout the ocean and under the sand is fun to watch. From a distance. 

No pictures of cows or pigs yet because I’m always in the car when I see them, but I promise to keep you updated. I know you’re excited for that. We’ve all see cows and pigs but I think everything is just a little cooler on this island so I just want to share. For some reason I can’t post it here but I made a little video of the turtles and rays swimming around, but it’s on my personal Facebook and I’ll post it too my blog Facebook as well. There are so many very, very cool things in this world and I hope you enjoy seeing some of the things I am seeing. I always get a little hurt when someone gives me jokingly-sarcastic comment about being jealous or telling me to “stop” with the pictures and all of that, because I understand its freezing effing cold and I would be annoyed (in my head) too- but keep in mind, everyone has ability to change their life if they’re not happy. And if you are happy with the life you are living wherever that may be, but just cold, please understand that I worked my ass off for this. I left my home, my family, my friends, to do something I wanted to do and I am just excited and I just want to share it with you. It helps me to feel connected to my life at home when I get to talk about and share what I am doing down here. Let me have my moment 🙂 I can’t wait to support you when you have yours. Xoxo.

New Kids On The Rock.

There is status that is earned by being a long time local, and I have found that sometimes people don’t take you very seriously if you haven’t been here for very long. I think the one year mark, or at least one full season, is when people actually treat you like a local. I totally get it, people come down here for a couple months and freak out and go back home never to be seen again, so trust and respect are things that are earned with time. I make sure that I introduce myself to as many people as possible and that I treat people with the utmost respect because I believe that is how you earn respect. One of my favorite parts of this journey is getting to know people and submerging myself in a different culture and lifestyle. What fun would it be to move 2,000 miles away and hold onto everything you know and the fast pace way of living from the states? There would be no point in ever leaving. Traveling is about living the way that the locals do in whichever place you chose. Do research, figure out up from down and go into everything knowing that you have so much to learn.

I always listen very carefully when people give me advice because that person has been in your place and whether they learned it themselves or someone passed the information onto them- at some point down the line someone made a mistake that they learned from and then cared enough to teach others how to not make that same mistake. Or they found something amazing like an off-the-beaten-path beach that they can’t wait to share with their favorite locals. Listen to the locals, live like the locals. It is such a huge part of the process.

One thing I haven’t really let go of is putting on some makeup and getting ready every once in a while. It’s funny because I know that I stand out when I have full makeup on and my hair down but its just for me and its what makes me feel good so until that changes, I’m going to keep rockin’ my overdone mascara and under eye concealer. I’ll walk in somewhere and a friend will say “damn I don’t do my makeup because I’ll just sweat it all off.” Ya girl doesn’t spend big $ on primer and setting spray for nothin’. I could go snorkeling for an hour and this shit isn’t going anywhere. It’s all about what makes you feel good, so for now, the makeup is staying. That can be my one thing I don’t let go of, I have now decided we all get one thing.

So in just over a week will be my one monthiversay with the island. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone and how much I have learned in such a short amount of time. I absolutely love my job, I have made so many great friends, and I get to spend my downtime laying on white sand or swimming with sting rays and sea turtles. I am amazed every morning when I open my eyes and see the ocean out of my bedroom window. I am so blessed to have a spot on this island and to live the way its meant to be lived on. I’m really excited about upcoming opportunities and to learn something new everyday. That is what this is all about. So, I’m still the new kid and “the baby” because I am for sure on the young end of the people living here, but I’ll keep working on making a positive name for myself and see where it takes me. Life is good, y’all.

21 Days.

During my first couple of days here in St. John when I was still freaking out about my decision to move here, I met with my friend Megan. I met her and her family on the beach in July, and they have been there for me with quick and honest answers to my 9 million questions throughout the process of moving. When I texted her telling her I was about to lose my shit, her response was “Coffee on Tuesday, I’ll pick you up at 8:30.” I’ve mentioned this before, but those are the kind of friends that are invaluable. I needed to be told to calm down, that everything I was feeling was normal and that I was fine, and I really needed coffee.

Everyone has heard that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Megan told me over and over again that morning that I needed to stick it out for 21 days. I was ready to get on a flight that day, and in my head I was thinking HAH yeah, 21 days is not going to happen. Well, here I am. Day 21.

In the past 21 days I have gone from dragging myself kicking and screaming to the airport, deeply regretting making this move, to feeling sad when I had to leave St. John just to go over to St. Thomas for a couple of hours. I feel envious when I’m walking with friends who have been here for a while and they stop to talk to almost every person on the street. I love that the locals here know everyone and always have a second to stop and check in with their friends bustling through town. I’m getting to a point that I know more and more people and I am starting to become a familiar face which is really fun and exciting. I went to a workout class the other night called “Cardio Hip Hop TWERKshop” which was just about as fun as the name. I went with a couple other teachers from Gifft Hill where I substitute teach, and we even had a couple of our students in the class which was amazingly hilarious and adorable. After hip hop we went out to sushi, and it all just felt very normal and real. I’m working out with friends and then going out to dinner, then going home and taking a shower and packing up for work in the morning. It’s all becoming just everyday living and this isn’t like a vacation anymore.

I struggle to budget my money and to only go out during happy hour, and my next goal is to only eat out once a week. It’s tough because I don’t have a car yet, so stocking up on groceries is definitely a challenge. *Spoiled girl alert*- I’ve never paid my own rent before so budgeting now isn’t like some life skill I’m trying to learn so that way I can be prepared for the real world- nope it’s like girl you better not buy that pina colada if you want to make your rent. Sure, I’m 22 I should probably have come to terms with this by now but it’s life and not everyone is on the same growing up schedule so don’t judge me ok?

I was talking to my roommate last night about shopping and how we miss just being able to run up to target to get clothes, but how we’re also probably saving a lot of money. We talked about the towns we grew up in and how different they are from St. John. Loudoun County has about 350,000 people, and Ashburn has about 50,000. St. John has around 4,000. I have spent 22 years in a places with hundreds of thousands of people, a Starbucks on every corner, a Target within 15 minutes of whichever direction I drive. I am so used to the accessibility of everything and not needing to plan out how and when I am going to get something I need, I am used to just getting in the car and getting it. It’s just not that simple here, especially since I don’t have a car yet (can you tell I’m getting impatient?) I’ve test driven a couple and reached out to a ton of people but I’ve been told it just is not going to happen on my time and that I need to be patient and just let it happen. Common theme down here. It’s an adjustment and it’s hard, but it brings me so much appreciation for this life I’ve been blessed to be able to live. I get to experience a totally new lifestyle and break away from what I’ve known for my whole life. I love where I grew up and I am so happy to know and love Ashburn, but I also know that I have room to know and love other places too.

This morning, my friend Krista who is a teacher at the school (also a dance class/sushi go-er) texted me telling me she was in the shower all lathered up when her water shut off. 15 minutes later and it hadn’t turned back on, it was off to go use someone else’s shower- all at 6:30am when she has a class to teach at 8. When she walked into the teachers lounge this morning I asked her how her morning went and she said, “You know, I’m just going to find it humorous instead of stressful because like, Jesus didn’t take showers so I’ll be fine too.” WORD. I met Krista at the school and we found out that we got here 1 day apart, her on the 1st and me on the 2nd and we are both from Northern VA. It was one of those things that was like within 5 minutes of meeting we were both like- yeah ok you’re going to be my best friend and hang out with me all of the time sorry you don’t have a choice see ya at the Westin tomorrow. Two NOVA girls, ending up on the same little island, just figuring it all out. It’s fine- we got this. Jesus didn’t need to shower before work or buy sundresses from Target so we’re going to be ok too.

St. John is a different world and I am definitely still the new girl trying to figure it all out. The best thing about being the new kid is that almost everyone else has been the new kid too and they remember exactly what it was like. Now, there are some locals that may let that slip their mind and be a little less than overly helpful and charming, but for the most part everyone is willing to help, talk, give advice and most importantly, just listen. It’s nice to be heard and understood by people who have been there, and I’ve found a lot of that. It’s really, really nice.

So there is my 21 day update. Thank you Megan for telling me 21 days is nothing and that I could do it- I did! Thank you to Krista, Veronica, Bri, Lindsay, Carly, Jenny and everyone else for just being my friend- oh and to PANAYI who carried up my 67.5 pound suitcase up my stairs when I was 9 seconds away from a full on breakdown. I still owe you many drinks for that one. Thank you to this little island for letting me call you home. 21 DAYS!

Thank God for all I’ve missed. 

Listening to the song “This” by Darius Rucker as I sit on the beach. It’s 80 degrees today, sunny with a perfect breeze. There are those moments when you sit and think about how every single thing that’s ever happened has led you into that perfect present moment you’re living in. There have been so many times in my life that I’ve felt like I’ve been in detrimental situations and nothing good would ever come out of it and I would never move on, and then all the sudden I blinked my eyes and I’m here. All of the bad things mixed together with all of the good things, and a little drive and motivation led me to graduating college and taking time to live on my own in paradise. It’s really incredible. It’s already going by so fast, so I’m soaking up the time- and the sun. 

The first few days were really rough. I freaked out, looked at plane tickets home, and completely doubted my decision and honestly felt stupid for ever doing it. After giving it a little time and getting into somewhat of a routine, I settled down and started feeling happy. It’s actually really hard not to be happy here- shocking right? I’m still working on logistics and I’m definitely not sure when I’m going to be home. I haven’t planted roots but I’m digging my toes into the sand. 

All of the things that I’ve missed, like failed math classes, dresses I’ve cried over not fitting in to, boys who broke my heart, estranged family, losing a parent… all the times I’ve been hurt… it led me to a one way ticket to an island, listening to country music on the beach in the middle of January. 

It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but I’m not going to lie- it’s pretty damn close.  

 

180’s and 360’s

Wow, wow, wow. Okay so, I officially live in the Virgin Islands. I am currently on day 5. I don’t have internet at my apartment, so I am using my very valuable Netflix time while babysitting at the Westin to update y’all- aka that’s a big deal. Things have been all over the place, and for as much laying around as I’ve been doing I feel pretty damn exhausted. But I’m going to go back to day 1 to explain that.

On Saturday morning, January 2nd, my alarm went off at 5am and I immediately started sobbing. I said goodbye to my very special friend, dragged my near lifeless body upstairs and croaked “moooooooooom heeeeeeeelp”. Before we even got to the basement so she could help me finish packing, I had to take a break on the stairs to continue sobbing. My already overstuffed suitcase laid on the floor with things scattered all around it that somehow needed to be shoved in, but I just laid on the floor and sobbed instead. My stepdad came down to help and got everything finished up while I- you guessed it- continued to sob. I was running late, I was a freakin’ mess, and they asked me if I could get a later flight or leave in a few days. As much as I wanted to just crawl back in bed, I told them that if I didn’t get on my 8am flight, I would not be getting on a flight at all. I made it through the airport and sat at my gate…on the floor and continued to sob. The people around me must have been like “yo, this bitch is getting on a flight to St. Thomas and she hasn’t stopped crying she needs to chill.” I for sure needed to chill. I got on the plane and realized I hadn’t charged my phone or my kindle, but was relieved each seat had a TV. I plugged my headphones in and tried to flip through the channels but apparently the crew got to decide what played on every single persons TV, and for the entire flight we watched the same 1 episode of MythBusters about 8 times. I know a lot about the most difficult plane to fly and if a drone can actually slice your neck open. Spoiler alert: neither myth was busted and they were both determined to be plausible.

Nothing really interesting happened on the rest of my journey other than being 5’3 and dragging two suitcases through the islands, one of them weighing 67.5lbs #strugglebus. My roommate was just leaving for work when I got to my apartment, so I sat in my empty room in my quiet apartment, and searched for flights home for the next day. Oh, I full on lost my shit. I called everyone and said nope I’m not doing this I’m coming home see ya soon xoxo bye. I really didn’t care about losing any money or backing out on any commitments, I was full on ready to take my ass back to Ashburn.

The next day was pretty much the same, but I got to go to work! Work made me feel about 10x better, not only because of the AC and internet access, but just because I had a place to be and I couldn’t cry anymore because no one wants to leave their kid with an emotionally unstable babysitter. No one. So I took a cold shower and rallied and was actually really excited to be at work and have some interaction with a tiny human because tiny humans are the best kind. Work is great. I love work. I love babies. I love air conditioning and wifi.

Monday was better. I went to Cinnamon Bay with my two girlfriends, took some cool video footage, played around with my new awesome underwater camera, and took a nap in the sun.

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Roomie had to go right to work after the beach, so again I came back to an empty apartment and started to lose my mind again *common theme of this post*. I texted my friend who I met when I was here for Thanksgiving, told her I was feeling a little miserable and she immediately offered to come pick me up and take me to her place just to hang out and have company. I wasn’t done with my pity party so I told her I was fine and I was just going to shower and keep myself busy, but as good friends do, she didn’t take no for an answer and told me she was coming over. We sat and talked for a couple of hours and not even just about what I was feeling but just everything else in the world so I got to stop thinking about my own issues and just listen and have a friend. A good one. Those are the ones you hang on to.

Tuesday, day 4, was amazing. I went to the Westin pool and had a few beers with my friend, then some of her friends pulled their boat into the Westin waters and came and picked us up on their dinghy and onto the boat. We just talked, and drank, and after a few too many, decided to swim out to the inflatable slide and water trampoline and DAMN those things are harder to get onto than anticipated. You go little 6 year olds with incredible hulk strength- you go. St. John gives you calf muscles, not arm muscles, so I’m sure that was a sight to see. By the time we swam back in, dinner was waiting for us on the table. We had a spinach, feta & apple salad, with teriyaki broccoli and grilled shrimp, and chocolate chip cookies. I was welcomed onto a persons boat that didn’t even know me, was given drinks and dinner, and most importantly cookies. God bless anyone who talks to me and gives me cookies honestly. Yesterday I felt on top of the world and like I was never going to leave. I felt like I did a 180, and my idea of going home next month was long gone and wanted to stay until at least March.

Well I woke up today, day 5, the boat buzz was gone, I was alone again and completed the 360 back to “get me the f off this island.” I’m obviously way too irrational at this point to make any decisions or buy any tickets, but this is immensely harder than I thought it would be. I planned for an apartment, I planned for a job, I planned for having friends to meet up with. I didn’t plan for saying goodbye to my family and friends. I didn’t plan for my heart sinking any time someone from home calls me because I just don’t want to talk about it anymore because I don’t have any answers. I’m tired of hearing “give it 3 months” or “this is what you wanted and you put money into it” because oh I am well aware of how much money I’ve put into it. Just today, I bought 1 package of lettuce, 1 (ONE) chicken breast, a basically travel size bottle of syrup and a box of eggo waffles- think about how much that would cost you at Giant or Food Lion…$10 maybe? Ok now in St. John world, that was a $27 transaction. I am struggling with figuring out what this is worth to me, is it worth sticking it out and spending all of this money while right now I feel miserable 70% of the time? Or do I cut my losses and go home before I dig myself into a hole and risk regretting giving up so easily?

Everyone tells you that living on St. John and vacationing on St. John are two different things. They are very, very right about that. Vacationing on St. John is seeing St. John through rose colored glasses. Living on St. John is still seeing the most beautiful place on earth every day, but knowing how damn hard you have to work to not let it eat you alive. It’s hard for me to leave 50 minutes before I have to work because I have a 15 minute walk into town and then I have to rely on taxi drivers who are on island time to get me to work on time. Every day I’ve been 30 minutes early to work, today I had about 30 seconds to spare because island time. It’s hard for me to want to just run out and do something but not be able to jump in my car. I lay in bed during the day because it’s so hot, so to already be hot and know you have to go hike into town and literally drench your body in sweat just for some human interaction and coffee? So I am severely decaffeinated and handcuffed to my fan.

It’s tough and I keep going back and forth about what to do, but I’m giving myself time to stick to one decision and not make any more steps forward or back. I absolutely love St. John, but I really love home and I really love my family and friends. I was really wrapped up in this idea of seeing the world and being adventurous while I’m young, but with adventure comes goodbyes. Goodbyes suck. Well I’m rambling and need to take advantage of my netflix access. If you call me I probably won’t answer because I’m too busy feeling sorry for myself while I’m laying in paradise and its 17 degrees in VA. Yeah, I realize the irony. Just hate me from afar, karma will bite me in the ass.