Find Out Who Your Friends Are

For anyone who hasn’t been around me or received a desperate phone call from me in the past week…here I am to inform you that my best friend left today. Krista and I met at the school where we both worked, she moved here Jan 1 and I moved here Jan 2, both from the same part of Northern VA. The day I met Kris, I told my friend Colleen in the car on the way home about her and Colleen said “Yep. That’s your girl. She’s going to be your island soul sister.” Well, she was.

I am heartbroken and devastated for selfish reasons because I just want her back here with me, but I am so proud and so excited for her taking her next step. This is part of living in a place like this…people come and go. That’s what I keep hearing, at least. I am just hours into the process of having one of my closest friends leave, but I have already learned so much. First of all, it SUCKS coming home to an empty apartment. I knew that already, but it had been so long that I kind of forgot what it feels like. I’m an emotional, single, 23 year old girl far far away from home, coming home to an empty apartment. OUCH. I needed to get out of the apartment, so Carly told me to pull myself together, grab a happy hour drink at Rum Hut and go visit her at work. I parked my car in town, called my ex boyfriend in hopes that would make me feel better, proved myself wrong for the 100th time, and walked into happy hour on the verge of tears. When I walked up to the bar two of my good friends were sitting there, my favorite bartender was working, and I sat down and felt better in about 2 seconds. They all already knew I was upset…they knew my friend left and they were there to tell me about their stories of their first friend leaving, they were there to take a shot with me and they were there to help me make a plan for my next step. I walked in feeling empty because my friend was gone, but left very well reminded that I have friends wherever I go on this little island.

Your friends are the ones that know you’re a hot mess but are going to stand behind you and tell you that we’re all hot messes, buy you a shot and give you hug. Your friends are the people you meet and know from day 1 they’re going to be in your wedding. Your friends are the ones that tell you that you really don’t seem that drunk, the mascara smeared across your face is barely noticeable, and that you can sit at their bar and keep crying into your patron margarita all night long.

Thank you to Alex and Melissa for just being at the bar when I walked in. I needed that more than you know. Thank you to Bizzy for listening, understanding, and telling me how you got through it when it happened to you. But mostly Bizzy- thank you for the bombs and for blowing bubbles at me. Bubbles make everything better. Thank you to Kim for that sympathetic look on your face as soon as I walked into bdeck. I needed that compassion and understanding, and you gave it to me before one word left my lips. Thank you to my sweet Carly Jo, for rubbing my back and telling me everything is going to be okay, while simultaneously laughing at me for being such a disaster. You know I need you, and you’re always there.

I am going to miss Kris more than I can put into words. We started this journey at the same time and everything we learned, we learned standing next to each other. I am forever grateful for her friendship and it will be one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Sometimes you just know, and with her…I just know.

vickris

You Leave Home, You Move On & You Do The Best You Can

The past few days have been a little off. I woke up yesterday morning to a text from my sister in a group message with my parents asking who wanted donuts. My sister sees my parents all the time, they text in the group message about meeting for lunch and dinner often, but yesterday it just hit me a little harder. I wanted a donut! I wanted to be sitting in my living room and hear my sister say “Hi!” over the jingle of her car keys as she hung them on the hook. I wanted a cup of tea from my step-mom, a donut from Taylor, to talk to my dad about cars and to watch Nathan and Grace play together.

After school today I listened to “The House That Built Me” on repeat for the entire drive home. When I got home I poured a glass of wine, laid in bed with Carly and cried over old pictures of proms, birthdays, siblings being born, old boyfriends and holidays with my family. So, these are the houses that built me.

dadshouse

My dad, Claire, Taylor & I moved into this house in 2002. I was 8, Taylor was 9, and Nathan was weeks away from coming into the world. When I was little I would make wishes while blowing on dandelions and every time my wish was the same. “I wish I had a baby brother or sister.” My wish came true, a few times over, after I moved to this house. This house was my stability. I come from a huge family where things were bound to get a little crazy from time to time, but my dads house has always been steady ground. My safe place. I came home to my dad when I needed to know how to fix my car, open a bank account, or what to write on a job application. I came home to Claire when I needed to cry about some meaningless high school problem and I knew she would always be on my side, 100% of the time, without question. Almost as often, I came home to Claire to tell her about some medical ailment I was convinced I was dying from and have her tell me I was going to be fine, and I believed her every time.

In this home I found out I was going to have a little sister by snooping through Claire’s laptop. It was just her & I at home when I called her down to explain the picture from her sonogram. She claimed it was Nathan until I kindly pointed out the 2007 date stamped on the top, and so we sat in the basement and laughed and talked and smiled as I asked her a million questions and thought about my life with a baby sister. Charlotte Grace brought exuberant joy into our home.

 

We spent many Christmas mornings in matching pajamas. We spent many hours watching redbox movies and eating sushi. We all cried in the driveway when I left for college. I practiced softball in the backyard with my dad and played on the playset with Nathan and Grace. I was in my bedroom when I found out my 9th grade boyfriend cheated on me, I was in my parents room when I found out my Pepa passed away, I was in my kitchen when I found out I got into ODU, and I was sitting on my deck when I told my parents I was moving to St. John.

I will never forget the sound of my dad opening up his suitcase to give us presents after a business trip, the Sonos playing Goo Goo Dolls, or the smell of the Yankee Candle that always made me think Claire made cookies. 14 years of living in this home gave me enough strength, happiness, and wisdom to get me through the rest of my life.

momshouse

My mom, my step-dad Pete, Taylor & I moved into this house in 2002 while my mom was pregnant with Aidan. 2002 was apparently the year for baby brothers and new houses. My step-dad Rodney had passed away a couple of years before, so the years in between were difficult for all of us to find stability. Moving into this house was the beginning of a new chapter and a new family. My moms house is typically something out of a Martha Stewart or Williams-Sonoma catalogue. Black and white family photos hang perfectly on the walls, our Tiffany blue kitchen aid mixer is a perfect splash of color under our black painted cabinets and our mantle is always decorated with flowers and candles. This is the home where we would take prom pictures, have family gatherings, and where I wanted to bring my friends. All of the beautiful things in our home are a representation of hard work and dedication which is what I learned from my mom and Pete. They showed me what it took to get up in the morning, work your ass off all day, and come home exhausted with a smile on your face and be able to pull together a meal you would have thought took hours. I can’t fathom how many times I’ve walked in to my mom blasting music in the kitchen, dancing around wearing a baseball cap while doing all of the dishes or making a meal to take to a get-together. Or how many times I’ve heard Pete grinding coffee before 6am to bring up to my mom in bed to wake her up. Those moments are so pure and so full of love and looking back on them is a reminder of the light-hearted happiness that filled our home.

In this home I celebrated my 16th birthday and some uninvited guests (the police) shut that down pretty quick and I spent the next 3 months of summer INSIDE that house and NOT out with my friends. Oops, am I allowed to talk about that yet? Pete, I can feel you rolling your eyes as you read this. I became a big sister, again, to my sweet little Aidan Cooper. I wish I could put a number on how many family gatherings we have had in this home. Cookouts, crab feasts, 4th of July jello shots and surprise parties. All of those moments are a representation of how important family is and how much love is shared between so many people. In this home I’ve watched endless SNL skits that Pete had already watched 10 times over but couldn’t wait to share them with us and mouthed the words as they played. I’ve listened to Pete strum the guitar in the front room while the dog sits next to him on the couch looking out of the window. I’ve heard my mom and my sister start the sentence “WHO TOOK MY….” about a million times. In this home I threw a hot straightener at Taylor’s head, screamed at my brother at the dinner table, and slammed my door enough times that I’m surprised it didn’t get taken off the hinges. I’ve stolen bottles of Jose Cuervo out of the pantry and refilled Grey Goose bottles with water. I clearly remember being the definition of an angsty teenager in this home so I’m really glad they still like me. I was a little insane.

Taking a day to remember these moments started off a little sad but I’m really glad I did this because it is now a documented reminder of how God has blessed me beyond words with two amazing homes with two lifetimes full of memories. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all 5 parents and all of my brothers and sisters. They gave me all of the knowledge and strength to leave home but to always remember where I came from. They built me.

Cheers to 23!

I turned 23 yesterday. It has been challenging for me to accept that and to let go of 22 because 22 was a pretty amazing year. In the past year so much has happened that led to such a huge progression of who I am as a person. I graduated from college which was the end of a 16 ½ year long journey through education and that in itself opens up a door to becoming someone new. When your life revolves around school for so long and all of the sudden it’s over, you have all of this time and all of these resources that are open to you that never have been before. It’s when you get to decide all on your own and turn away from the pressure of what you’re “supposed” to do next and do whatever you want.

college educated

Reflecting back on the past year is almost overwhelming because of how much has happened. I started off 22 in a serious relationship, we had plans to take the next step within that and if I had stayed on that path I would just be moving out of Norfolk and we would have been looking for an apartment together. I thought that at this time I would be committing to being with one person for the rest of my life…and now that sounds like the most insane concept I’ve ever heard. I am still good friends with him and I still care very much about his happiness but in the past year I had to figure out that I wasn’t contributing to that at all and I was really just trying to stick to a plan or not break any promises. I was fully prepared to just live the rest of my life that way. Until I went to St. John with my family in July.

July was a turning point of 22. I met someone that changed my life very significantly, and not in a totally positive way, but in a way that I am so thankful for because it brought me here. I learned from him the possibility of picking a place on a map, picking up your life and starting it over. After I thought, “I want to do that too”, I told my family and my mom’s friend that I was going to move to St. John. I said it out loud for the first time not even believing myself and my mom’s friend laughed and said “No you’re not.” That was all I needed.family july

My last semester of college was spent at a full-time unpaid internship, working through a breakup, and planning a move 2,000 miles away. Some of my closest friends still didn’t believe I would do it. I thank God for that doubt because without it I don’t think I would be here. On the night before I left, one of my best  friends told me he hadn’t even processed the fact that I was moving because he didn’t really think I would go. I find a lot of strength and pride in that, not anger or annoyance that anyone doubted me because moving to an island is a hard thing to do and I totally understand that doubt. That doubt is what fueled me to get through my last semester and to make all of my plans, to pack up and leave home, and to get through the period of adjustment after I arrived.

I spent the last 4 ½ months of 22 building a new life on an island. I have made extraordinary friends that have turned into a family. I have seen some of the most beautiful things a person can see in their lifetime. I have gone on adventures and I have tried new things. I have had my heart broken and have fallen into a mess of sweat and tears alone in my rock hard bed, but I’ve had my roommate come in and lay with me, rub my back, listen to me and tell me that everything will be ok. And everything always is ok, because I have an amazing and very happy life. In my year of 22 there have been days that I’ve questioned every decision I’ve ever made, there have been days that if there were an airplane in front of me I would have gotten on and flown home and not looked back. I have also had days that I’ve jumped into the ocean, stood up and looked around and just started crying at how surreal and amazing this experience has been.

sunset porch pic

22 was full of very low lows and very high highs. Overall, this past year has brought me such significant growth and happiness that I’m a little scared to let it go, but very hopeful and determined to keep exploring, keep growing, keep loving, and keep getting better. 22 has made me better and I am so proud of how far I have come. I will remind myself that I am not really letting go of 22 but I am bringing the very best parts and all of the lessons with me into 23 to make it even better. I am deeply at peace with my life, and my heart, mind, and soul are fulfilled. Thank you so very much for the words of encouragement, the shoulders I have leaned on, the listening ears, the chatty happy hours, the well wishes and safe travels, the congratulations and the happy birthdays. All of those things from all of the amazing people in my life are what has gotten me to this place of peace and joy. I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you that have shown interest in following my journey. You have helped make 22 remarkable. Cheers to 23, y’all!

When Are We Going To Get Ahead?

My roommate Carly and I decided we needed to have an “adulting” day and take care of things like paying our internet bill, grocery shopping, and checking off other things we save for cloudy days. We started talking about our finances as part of a discussion on just how expensive it is to live here and how it has been a rare and fleeting feeling to be financially secure. She said something that made me think. “When are we going to get ahead?”

Before Carly moved to St. John, she was using her degree working as Graphic Designer and was doing well, was secure and stable, but hated her job. I was finishing school where I was lucky enough to be financially supported and I could have moved home after college and continued to live for free as I built up my savings and my resume but I would have continued to be miserable. We came down here from different parts of the country, from different backgrounds, for a lot of different reasons but the one we have in common is that we were searching for something more.

When milk costs more than rum, and a cheeseburger at Doghouse costs less than buying the ingredients to make it at home, it is hard to get yourself to the grocery store to stock up on enough food to prevent you from eating out all of the time. When Rum Hut happy hour is just $3 a drink but you get 4 and tip 100%…it does start to add up, but your friend invited you that you haven’t caught up with in a while. When your friends ask you to go on a boat trip after you just went on one the week before but they’re going to a place you’ve been dying to go to…it’s hard to say no. We live in a place that you have to put in some serious effort to balance work and play. In your free time, if you aren’t at home by yourself watching Netflix you’re out spending money.

So, what’s the cost? Yeah, my rent is crazy high and I just spent $75 on groceries that I would have been able to get for $40 in the states. But, I brought my groceries home to my apartment on St. John and while I was putting them away I was watching the sunset over the ocean out of my window. I live where people write songs about, where people go to get married, where people vacation and dream about a different life. I am experiencing something rare and incredible and the monetary cost is high but the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual benefit that I have received in the last 4 months will outweigh the cost 10 times over.

We ended our talk with the conclusion that we would much rather be broke and happy than miserable and rich. Are we ever going to get ahead? Are we going to have more than a few months rent in our bank accounts at one time? Probably not, but I can say with certainty that we are ahead. We are ahead because we are smart, independent and brave 22 and 23 year olds living out a dream. We’re kicking ass. We’re ahead, girl.

Two Months.

I feel like I was just writing about my first week here. Today marks month 2! Of course there are still challenges and there are still days when I wonder why the hell I did this, but overall, I am so overjoyed. I am so blissfully happy. I imagined a life of living on St. John, I designed it, I followed through the plans, and I am here two months later. I made a promise to myself to stop living for someone else and build a life on my own where I am the most happy. I am here.

Today I got my eyebrows done for the first time in two months which made me think about all of the other things I haven’t done in the past two months. I will share some of those things with you.

In the past two months:

  • I have not had Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, or Starbucks.
  • I have not walked into a Target.
  • I have not had a meal with my family.
  • I have not watched Netflix in bed. Or watched cable- at all.
  • I haven’t seen my dogs or my hedgehog.
  • I haven’t hugged my best friends.
  • I haven’t used an ATM without a $3 fee.
  • I haven’t put my clothes in a dryer.
  • I haven’t gone a day without putting on bug spray, or getting bit by a mosquito.

There are a few other things that I haven’t had the luxury or convenience of doing in the past two months, but I would much rather share with you the things that I have been able to do. In the past two months, I have had more carefree laughs, more genuine friends, more deep breaths, more stares up to a clear sky full of stars, and more happy hour dates than I ever have in my life. I have spent more time on the beach, and swimming in clear water with turtles than many people will ever be able to do in their lifetime.

Yesterday was a day that tested my patience. My phone stopped working and since I didn’t have internet set up at my apartment, I was NOT feeling good about going home to an empty room with no connection to the outside world. I was at school when this all started and I had plans to go for a swim with Veronica after school so despite my foul mood we went. When we got there and were sitting in the parking lot I had to use her phone to talk to the company that was bringing my car over from St. Thomas to St. John. This is the same company that handled the registration, title, plates, stickers, etc., so I was waiting on the total that I owed them. I was prepared for about $500-600, so when they told me my total was $1,256.88 I pretty much lost it. My fault for not looking into how much all of the different fees are, but on top of my phone not working, I was not being able to transfer money into the right account since I had left school and didn’t have wifi anymore or pull out that much cash at once, I just became so frustrated and so overwhelmed. I dragged my sorry ass to the sand, dove into the water and stood there and looked around. Ok- shit was kind of hitting the fan and I really didn’t know how I was going to fix everything, but I was dealing with all of my problems while I was swimming in the Caribbean Sea with my good friend on our way home from work. Who else can make a pit stop to the Caribbean Sea on their way home from work? My worst days here are still the best days of my life. A phone, a car, money…it’s all replaceable. The days I spend here, the friends I make here…I won’t get these moments back once they’re gone.

I obviously still take things for granted. I would love to say that I live each day to its full potential and I don’t bring the stress of things that don’t matter into this experience, but I am human. I live on an island 2,000 miles away, yeah- I’m gonna cry a little if my phone breaks. I think that’s ok, as long as when I calm down I remember how utterly blessed I am, how much joy I have in my heart, and how in love I am with this island and the life I am building here. There won’t be a day that I won’t have one challenge that I wouldn’t have if I lived in the states, but…I live on St. John. Two months down, how many more to come?

hansen

Just A Number.

Today is Krista’s 23rd birthday! Which means I’m basically the only 22 year old left on this island. Ok- dramatic, I have one friend that is 21 but still. I’m essentially an infant. I didn’t realize that I was going to be on the younger end of the people who live here. When I was desperately trying to get through my last few months of college I felt so old and I felt so much pressure to go off and do something crazy while I still had time. Now here I am, most of my friends are in their late 20’s or in their 30’s, and I feel so ridiculously young. I think I carry myself well and I’ve never had anyone tell me they thought I was younger than I am, and actually most people are surprised when I tell them my age. Which I am going to count as a good thing. There’s nothing worse than being the newbie AND people thinking you’re young and immature. Just not a good look my friends.

When I was planning this move I told myself a million times “if not now- then when?” and I still hold that to be true in my particular case because there are a lot of things I want to do in my life that would be really challenging to do on a rock in the middle of the ocean. But as I have met people, learned peoples stories, and learned more about this place, I have come to realize that the drive to do this and the reasons that people come here don’t have much to do with age at all. Whether it be getting away from a destructive relationship, or from Corporate America, or pursuing a dream of becoming a boat captain or simply just wanting a change- all of those things are far more common than “I just wanted to do it before I got too old.” Maybe moving fresh out of college at 22 years old is a little less complicated because I’ve had less years to put down roots, less years of accumulated baggage or debt, but I also have less experience and less wisdom. There are people who went out into the work force and used their college degrees, pushed through a job they hated until they were able to make this move. There has to be a different level of appreciation when your story starts like that. I feel like there would be more of a drive to live this life with everything you have in you and take every single day for what it is. I set that reminder in my head every day, but I don’t feel like it comes naturally because maybe I didn’t have to work as hard for it.

What I am trying to say is that age is just a number. I would rather measure my life in moments and experiences, in friends and in drinks at happy hour. I would rather it be measured in times I’ve had my heart broken and times I have learned from my mistakes. I would rather connect with people based on loving the same netflix show, understanding of the story we all have of “that one guy” or the ability to have a fluid conversation rather than the difference in numbers on our drivers license. I thought that 22 was the time and that if I didn’t do it now I never would, and I have found so much comfort in learning about all of the things that have brought people here that have nothing to do with age. I find comfort in the fact that if this doesn’t work out for me now, I can always come back. It won’t be too late, it won’t ever be too late to find passion and follow it. Age is just a number- there is so much more to life than numbers (also, I hate numbers. I failed college algebra three times).

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.

goats playing.jpg

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. 

vic and lizard

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?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.