A Day in the Life of an Easily-Overwhelmed, Increasingly-Rugged Island Girl. Part 1.

Even though I live on a remote part of a tiny isolated speck in the middle of the ocean, there’s somehow never a dull moment. And some days are truly just…something else. Since I failed to produce anything out of the other topics I’d planned to write for today, it finally occurred to me last night that the actual events of my day might be more interesting than what I’d originally planned. And so, dear reader, I present to you, an abridged play-by-play of my Sunday. In two parts. (Note: I live in a charming indoor/outdoor studio cottage with no screens.)

6 am. My bed.

Wake by Hershey alarm (my dog whine-talking at me). Hear the sound of liquid-filled aluminum hitting the floor. Realize Hershey’s tail has knocked over the remnants of last night’s bed beer, which is now sticky-ing up the floor behind my nightstand.

Open eyes, look at Hershey who’s looking at me. See cloud of mosquitoes swarming him like Pig Pen’s filth. Probably what roused him so early. They invaded yesterday afternoon. And I now recall waking in the night to the sensation of something tiny and alien going up my right nostril, and having the half-awake realization that I’d inadvertently snorted what must have been a mosquito.

I can attest from first-hand experience that the 2nd half of his claim is absolutely false.

I can attest from first-hand experience that the 2nd half of his claim is absolutely false.

Executive decision made before getting out of bed: re-install mosquito canopies. (There are two. Both have holes, and are thus doubled.)

6:20 am. My cottage.

Put on armor of long yoga pants, hoodie, and socks. Start sweating.

Make coffee.

Clean beer off floor. Decide to sweep entire side of room. Looks like I swept three weeks ago instead of three days.

6:45 am.

Locate and hand-wash dirty mosquito nets.

Hang nets to dry, point fan toward them to speed up process. Since fan is only thing keeping mosquitoes off me, decide to leave while nets dry.

7:30 am

Grab coffee, journals, phone, dog, and head to the air-conditioned, mosquito-free reprieve of my car.

Leave property. Wherefore? Who knows! Just not here.

7:35 am. My car, 5 min from cottage.

I notice a woman at a house that I drive past every time I leave or return home. I see this woman all the time, and even recall sharing a business transaction or two. I’ve never seen her here in the six months I’ve lived in the neighborhood, but I’m quite familiar with the two free-roaming dogs who seem to base at the house. It’s a micro-second moment of recognition, immediately forgotten.

Until two minutes later when I hear a horn honking urgently behind me. A white jeep catches up to my car and pulls up along side me. I stop. We take up both lanes, but it’s no biggie this far out in the boonies this early on a Sunday morning.

I roll down my window and see the same familiar woman I noticed at the house.

She skips the local manners and asks, with a degree of audacity that shocks me,

“Is that my dog?”

I look back at Hershey, hanging out the window, giving her a big doggie smile. Hershey — my constant and often sole companion for the last 4.5 years, the most consistent presence in my island life, and a dog with whom I often share long loving gazes. We read one another’s every move, vocal tone, and facial expression. This dog is my family. My money, time, and emotion-consuming baby.

And so, dem’s fightin’ words. To say the least.

“No, this is my dog,” I assure her.

She squints at him and looks back at me, “Looks just like my dog.”

“Well, this is MY dog. I’ve had him over four years.”

One of the dogs at the house she’s associated with does, in fact, look a lot like Hershey.They’re the same mix and almost the same color. (Hers black, while I maintain that Hershey is chocolate. It’s quite obvious in the sun.) Admittedly, I was even very briefly shocked one day at a neighborhood beach when a dog who looked like Hershey came walking toward us. It ended up being her dog. Who, if I remember correctly, is female. Which Hershey is decidedly not, despite his lack of testicles and a name that combines two feminine pronouns.

Next step would have been to bring up the Meet the Women page on my phone and show her this photo.

Next step would’ve been to bring up our Meet the Women page on my phone and show her this family photo as proof.

“That looks just like my dog,” she says again, sounding completely unconvinced as to the truth of my assertions. She then looks at Hershey, who is excitedly whine-talking in her direction and says to him softly, “Hey, what are you doing in there?” and makes a little doggy talk sound with her mouth, as if she’s talking to her own dog who’s accidentally found herself in the backseat of a stranger’s car.

What I think:  “He’s in there because he’s my dog and he’s in my backseat more often than not, which I’m surprised you haven’t noticed since your dogs that we pass several times a week bark and give chase nearly every time.”

What I say: “I know your dog. She runs all over the place, to the beach, everywhere else. I’m telling you, this is NOT your damn dog!”

“Well, our dogs used to be able to run free before you moved here,” she says as if my particular presence on this side of the island had changed things.

“I could care less if your dog runs around, just don’t accuse me of stealing him if you don’t know where he is.”

“I’m not accusing you. Wouldn’t you do the same?”

“No. Because I know where my dog is, so I don’t have to wonder about people stealing him.”

“Where do you live?” she interrogates in a manner that suggests she actually has some kind of official authority over me. Having nothing to hide, I give her the name of the bay.

She continues looking at Hershey, seeming unconvinced. Finally, she says, “I can tell it’s not my dog from the markings on her throat.”

“Yes, because HE’S my dog!. I can’t believe we’re sitting in the road before 8 on a Sunday having this conversation. Can we please just both move on with our days?”

We part. Me in irritated disbelief. I might have handled the situation in a more zen-like manner if the start of my morning had been more peaceful. And then again, I might not have. She roused the mother hen in me something fierce.

8:15 am. Pickles parking lot.

Call dear friend. Spend nearly two hours catching up.

10:15 am. My cottage.

Arrive home. Grease myself up with lemongrass oil in an effort to repel mosquitoes, or at least make landing on my skin extremely difficult.

Make bed with fresh sheets.

Canopies are dry.

Assemble canopies, one inside the other, with combination of chip and binder clips. Hang from ceiling fan. Close tightly with clothespins. Break two clothespins in process. First two of many cheap and useless clothespins that break during the day.

24 hours worth of broken clothespins that fall apart of if you look at them funny

24 hours worth of broken clothespins that fall apart if you look at them funny.

11:15 am. My cottage.

It’s been a trying morning. Especially for a Sunday. Plus, it’s elevenses. So, time for a beer! Grab Miller Lite from freezer. Assemble other inside-the-canopy essentials.

11:30 am. My bed, under cover of canopy.

Hershey and I are safe inside, along with my laptop, journals, planner, phone, and beer. I have a long to-do list today, and want to stop wasting time after the morning’s adventures. It’s kinda nice to be huddled up in here. Feels a bit cozy even, like a childhood fort.

11:44 am.

…I’m a bit spent and disheartened. Motivation declining…and…it’s…nappy nap time…

Read Part 2 here.

 

 

Inside the canopy.

Inside the canopy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ashley Ladlie

About Ashley Ladlie

Ashley lives on St. John in the US Virgin Islands where she can be found drenched in sweat while communing with the hermit crabs who live in her yard. The irony of living in a shac-teau on the most remote part of a tiny secondary island in the Caribbean while spending the majority of her time with a creature named after people who prefer solitude is not lost on her.

Despite constant inquiry as to how long she’ll be on St. John, Ashley has learned in her three decades on this planet that setting one’s life plans in stone is the best way to ensure their futility. For now she remains enchanted with the beautiful absurdity on her rock of residence, which is colorful in far more ways than one.

You can hire her to write and design for you at www.badashbabe.com.

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7 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of an Easily-Overwhelmed, Increasingly-Rugged Island Girl. Part 1.

  1. After years of living on islands I do wonder if islands attract mad people or if people go mad on islands. Of course I am referring to your crazy neighbour!

    • I think both. Definitely both. I don’t know if my neighbor was just having a bad morning or what, but starting with Good Morning or even Hello would have been nice!

  2. Sounds like the same lady that was trespassing in the Serendip parking lot that I had words with?? LOL Whoever she is…she better lay-off my daughter and granddog. Looking forward to Part II.

  3. To repel mosquitos (and to get an energy boost) take vitaminB – B52 is best. I used to get devoured by mozzies, but since taking B52 they rarely bite. Even in the islands!

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