Beginning each June, it happens: The Exodus. It makes me feel like I’m on the show, The Leftovers. Suddenly, all of my friends just disappear.

It’s a challenging and emotional time for those of us left behind on this increasingly scorching (it is Island Summer, after all) desert island. I’m often hit with a range of emotions, here are just a few I’m dealing with right now:

1) I’M NOT A TOTAL LOSER

In the “real world,” people don’t just leave for months at a time. People don’t even leave for one month stretches! But here, it’s way more common than the one week vacation aka the stateside norm. Considering the cost of living here, it’s difficult for me to comprehend how people seem to have the available funds to pack up the entire family and jet off to any number of places around the world. And it’s not just the rich friend with the amazing job and the infinity pool dream villa; it feels like almost everyone. My neighbor went to Paris last week, then the entire family is meeting in Tuscany (for 2 weeks, I kind of hate them), and then they’ll be wrapping it up with some beach time in New England. And other friends are headed to… India, the Southwest, Northern California, Canada, a lake house in Michigan, New York (to see like every stinking Broadway production) – you get the picture. Sometimes it’s hard to not feel like a castaway when you’re not jet-setting around the world too.

2) I MISS EVERYONE!

It’s really damned lonely on my island without my posse. Sure, coffee at our spot is fine by myself, but it’s typically the highlight of the week when the girls are here to join me. This time of year, my calendar ticks by. Though I do revel in the time off with my kids, I still find myself yearning for everyone’s return. Yeah, there’s social media to help us keep in touch while we’re apart, but I must admit that it’s really hard to get excited about someone else’s access to beautiful, clean, well-stocked, cold grocery stores 24/7 while I’m still on the rock with our more meager options.

Coffee for One

3) IT’S REALLY FREAKING HOT HERE!

Like, two showers a day or more kind of hot. It doesn’t matter that the thermometer in many places in the states shows a bigger number – they have abundant air-conditioning there! Remind me – why am I still here right now?

4) WHY DO WE HAVE TO SAY GOODBYE?

The end of the school year is the most popular time for permanent vacations from the rock to commence as well. For some, the thrill is just simply gone. For others, the employment opportunities of the states are no longer avoidable. Regardless of the reasons, the exits are very real and very sad. When goodbye isn’t just for the summer, it makes it even harder to be the one left behind. Being permanent in a transient place means that there will be many hello’s and many farewell’s. As a result of my first “inner circle” member heading off island, I finally now understand the reluctance of many long-time residents’ to make a deeper connection with me when I first arrived on the rock… it’s hard to connect only to lose that connection.

Leaving St. Somewhere

5) HANG TIGHT! YOU WILL GET TO LEAVE SOON TOO.

Like everything on this rock, this leftover feeling is temporary. I will get to leave for my month soon too – just a bit later than some of the others. I plan to eat fresh peaches till I puke and wander aimlessly through the supermarkets. I’m going to eat my way through my month away like we all do. I’ll shop until it feels like a chore. And because I was the one left behind for the early summer months this year, I’m going to think about who I am leaving behind when I go – and be immensely thankful when we’re all back on the rock together!

–   –   –

Do islanders leave your rock in droves this time of the year too? Are you one of them?

Written By:

Magnolia Vessup

Current Rock of Residence:

St. Thomas, USVI

Island Girl Since:

July 2014

Originally Hails From:

Georgia, then Colorado, Connecticut, North Carolina, Georgia again, and now St. Thomas

How’d Magnolia find herself in St. Thomas? She sat down at the computer to look at Facebook (her substitute for real-life friends when she was living in rural Georgia) and instead found herself looking at a new email in her husband’s inbox. It said something about a “unique” employment opportunity in the US Virgin Islands. Her husband said, “It’s probably spam. That sounds like spam.” But Magnolia figured, what was there to lose by responding? Maybe it was legit. They did want to get the hell out of there…

Now, she doesn’t look at the expansive, lush green grass of a beautifully maintained suburban yard; she looks out her wall of windows down island to St. John and the BVIs – boats, weather, and incredible sunrises. She doesn’t deadhead perennials anymore; she vacuums African dust out of the pool. Her once zippy black Audi is now a beater 4-Runner. She now has lurid fantasies of clean, well lit, fully stocked stores that smell good. Her gardening adventures seem to more frequently be mis-adventures; she’s bizarrely obsessed with the amount of rain that falls on her roof; and she spends a ridiculous amount of her time grocery shopping and cleaning up lizard poo. Now that she lives in a fantastic village of interesting and genuine women, her kids are living a life that they couldn’t have even imagined a year ago. It’s really ALL good – even the icky stuff. You can read more of her tales on her blog, 16 Degrees.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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