Stranded in Paradise, Part 1.

Goodbye, Average Adult Existence. Helloooo, Never-Never Land!

I recently heard it put by a longtime resident that life on my island is akin to an extended college experience. While not a perfect comparison, it’s far more accurate than the popular perception that life on this (or any) rock is a permanent vacation.

Undoubtedly, the anything goes vibe is part of the charm of living here. Freedom of expression is valued far more than the conventional trappings of success. No one cares how much money you make and what you own. No one even really cares what you do for a paycheck. Or if you do anything, for that matter.

In the four years I lived as a responsible adult after college and before the islands, there was this looming sense that there would be no more spontaneity, no more adventure, no more antics and silly fun. From now on it would be building careers, families, and bank accounts. Sure, the gang still got together…made food, drank wine, and still went out sometimes, but the feeling in the air was one of domestication. Of having been tamed.

23 and fully domesticated

Twenty-three and already domesticated. (Do you spy the box of Franzia?)

At 26, my wild dreams and desires of a life less ordinary were fading. My future was already packaged in a neat template: make more money, partner up and settle down, buy a house, reproduce, make more money, build that 401K, buy a lakeside cabin, make more money, enjoy grandchildren, retire (if you’re lucky), get cancer, die.

I didn’t realize the extent to which my workaday corporate routine was smothering my spirit until, suddenly and without warning, I fled. And even though life has certainly been anything but easy since then, I’ve rarely had occasion to complain about boredom. In fact, I’ve never felt more alive.

It’s no surprise that people like myself—with an eternal appetite for novelty and a repulsion toward the square and pretentious— find the notion of returning to normal life on the mainland like being forced to wear glasses that filter out color and render the world in black and white.

Last week, I had a day that perfectly illustrates the beautiful absurdity of island life. One that epitomizes why it would take an unexpected upheaval as dramatic as the one I created when moving here in the first place, to get my skinny (albeit, increasingly muscular) white girl ass back to civilization.

Transportationally-Challenged

My car died right before Christmas. It was no shock. She had served me well for over 5 years on these rough roads, and I’d known it was only a matter of time before she gave out on me for good. Of course, rather than plan ahead for my car’s inevitable extinction, I spent all my savings on a much-needed career transition. So, when the car finally declined to ascend one of the island’s steepest hills, her final protests communicated via smoke signal from under the hood, I knew it would be a little while before I could save up the cash for another one.

ashley's stuck corolla

one of our many “oh shit” moments together

It’s been mentioned before, but I live on just about the most remote part of my island. The drive from the closest “town” is a superlatively steep and winding 15 minutes one way. As you might imagine, this makes not having a vehicle at my disposal extra difficult, since pretty much anyone besides the handful of folks I can call neighbors, have to go REALLY far out of their way to help me move around. I feel bad asking anyone to do this more frequently than once every few weeks.

Unless, that is, I’m sleeping with them. Then I feel way better about it. If they’re lucky enough to be my sex partner, then transporting me around in extenuating circumstances is just, well, part of the package, so to speak. My current friend with benefits (after several months, he remains militantly resistant to any terms associated with dating)…we’ll call him #7, has actually been way more helpful in getting me where I need to go for the past month than I ever expected.

But for several reasons not worth detailing (let’s face it, I’m already oversharing to excess), it so happened that we’d been cohabitating for almost a week, mostly at his place. And he’d had just about enough of my presence for the time being. (Although, how someone could tire of me I will never understand, my reserves of charm and general loveliness being rather boundless, as far as I’m concerned.)

Unfortunately, his truck was acting up and on its way to the shop, so driving me home would be, not only a time-commitment and gas drain, but potentially dangerous too (my words, not his). Not wanting to be more of a burden than I’d already become, I told him Tuesday night, “Just drop me at Olives in the morning, and I’ll take it from there. ”

Where You’re Always Glad You Came

Since two of my least favorite things in the world are:

A. feeling like a nuisance/burden/pest, and

B. not having complete control over my own mobility and transportation,

I arrive at Olives before 8am in what I describe openly as a “sour” mood.

Usually if #7 and I arrive at Olives together for breakfast, we are in some state of mutual amusement with our repartee. Probably annoyingly so, and likely a result of residual drunkenness from the night before, mixed with postcoital glow.

There are no giggles this morning, however. At least not from my frowny face.

ashley's sour face

accidental sourface selfie, with dog

I grab from the truck bed my several bags of shit: backpack for work, overnight bag, doggie overnight bag, BFP (big fucking purse), and a 17 pound bag of dog food. I haul my baglady load around the back of the restaurant, placing it under a tree close to the bar for safekeeping. Not that I have to worry about anyone stealing my stuff here. (No humans, anyway, but we’ll get to that.)

I march, on an ornery mission, back to the truck, collect my dog who is whining with excitement, and secure him to a coffee table in the backyard living room area, where his doggie-brudda-from-anuda-mudda is already stored, and march (sourly, still) back to the front counter to order coffee.

I haven’t had more than a sip when the surprisingly good idea dawns on me to make a sign and attach it to my chest. I’m confident that I’ll manage to find someone to give me a ride home, especially if I offer $20 for the effort. But I don’t like the idea of having to ask every damn person I encounter. Way better to just make a sign and tape it to my shirt. People will look out of surprise and curiosity, surely at least one of them will offer to help.

ridesignblogedit

My attitude (and thus, my day) quickly starts to improve. I’m around friends and smiling faces. My Prom Date is here. He’s bartending today and doing his best to convince me in his particular charming fashion, that today is the perfect opportunity to spend with him at the bar, working on his marketing materials. I needn’t leave this morning, he insists, I’ll surely find a ride home before nightfall. Furthermore, #7 is making me giggle rather than grumble, and my sign has already received some positive attention, adding to my confidence that it will work.

It gets even better when a couple of donkeys make what I discover is their daily entrance into the backyard, and stand in their patient yet unignorable way at the kitchen windows, waiting, with clear expectation, to be fed. It couldn’t be a more perfect snapshot, and serendipitiously, I have a WWLOR FB post due in about five minutes. I know this will be popular. Twenty minutes later, the likes on the post are steadily rising, and with it, my mood. One worthy accomplishment down, and it’s scarcely 8 in the morning.

Another item to do before returning to my hut in the woods is to replenish my supply of herbal medication. I simply cannot be stuck out there for an unknown quantity of time without it. And, as if an auspicious message from the Universe that this necessity will also be met today, a woman I’ve never before laid eyes on joins our backyard living room coffee hour, and wastes no time in lighting a joint and passing it around.

My outlook continues to improve.
This could turn out to be quite the glorious day, after all.

To be Continued…

Where's my breakfast, bitch?

Where’s my breakfast, bitch?

 

 

 

 

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This entry was posted in Ashley Ladlie's posts, Culture, Lifestyle, Pets on a Rock, Random Funnies, Reflections by Ashley Ladlie. Bookmark the permalink.
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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14 thoughts on “Stranded in Paradise, Part 1.

  1. your description in the beginning of island life is TO THE TEE. dead on. extended college experience. whenever the new slew of teachers starts here in September inevitably someone says, “When did we get back to college.” The moment you set foot on this island, my friend.

  2. Love this blog!! I am not a Woman Who Lives On A Rock…YET.
    You guys are giving me so many tips for when we do make this a reality!!

  3. LOVE it-this is my life-took car to mechanic today-best advice was to take sips of rum (Wine for a woman) when you clean your teeth, sip all evening, during the night and all through the morning … apparently it will keep me healthy! Not so for said car….

  4. Ha! Love it. Can really empathise. One of the side effects of living on my rock is that I’m no longer wanting to wake up and read the news…’I wonder what’s happened in the world overnight?’, but rather prefer to read stuff like this. Thanks for the early-morning smile 🙂

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