Enduring two Category 5+ hurricanes will change a person. It’s certainly changed this island girl.

Here are 10 things I never did before living on a post-hurricane island:

1) Swear in front of the children.

Ok, so this is not entirely true. Damnit was always the signal to the family that Mommy needed some alone time. But post-hurricanes? I’m talking full-on sailor talk. The F-bombs have been dropped. Colorful phrases that once were reserved for hushed tones have now been spoken/shouted to whomever is in earshot. I’d be mortified if I weren’t so f&*%$ng frustrated.

2) Drink an entire bottle of wine at dinner.

Ok, so this is not entirely true, either. But I certainly never did at family weeknight dinners. Regularly. (Read: daily.) So common has this become that when the kids are setting the table, they ask me which wine bottle they should sit at my place. Gulp. I’d be embarrassed if I weren’t so frazzled.

3) Discuss kilowatt size, fuel consumption, and oil maintenance on generators.

I now know how many hours I can run my Genny from a full tank, how many items I can plug in without tripping the breaker, and how to wrangle a veritable octopus of extension cords to do my bidding. Despite this newfound knowledge of things with a plug, it is still a magical mystery how it all happens. I find myself wishing a senator lived on our road so we would get power before the new year.

4) Forgo shaving my legs.

Ok, so this is not entirely true either. As a natural blonde, I have been lucky to not have to do this chore on a daily basis. However, I’m referring to not shaving until you know which direction the wind is blowing based on the way it ripples through your leg hair. I feel like anyone with a problem with my hirsute lower appendages can kiss my…

5) Powder everything.

Pre-hurricane, I might sprinkle a little cornstarch powder on my thighs on a warm day. Post-hurricane, I put down a towel on the floor and create a cloud. Then I emerge as Post-Apocalyptic Casper the Friendly Ghost. My daughter is permanently scarred by the volume of I-don’t-give-a-crap that she has witnessed.

6) Pitch a hissy-fit.

These fits of frustrated rage have been sporadic but epic. I’ve thrown a mop across the floor, a bucket off the balcony, shoes into the wall. I’ve shut my car door so hard I feared the window would break. I’ve screamed at the top of my lungs in the shower. And each and every time I got done fit-pitching, I put on my big girl pants and made shit happen. Sometimes, post-hurricane life just calls for a hissy fit. #notsorry

7) Use 4WD-Lo to get home.

When the road ate my 4-Runner’s front end, I had to open up a can of 4WD whoop-ass and redneck my way through the Bolongo potholes. It was crazy, but I made it home.

8) Wash my clothes outside in a plastic bin of sun-heated rainwater.

When you run out of panties, you gotta do what you gotta do. Thank goodness I stopped giving a crap when the first hurricane blew out of here, so I am not shy about hanging out my and my daughter’s undergarments on the clothesline.

9) Go 2 weeks without a trip to the grocery store.

It’s pasta again tonight, kids! Let’s get crazy and have white sauce with canned chicken! Or do you want to live it up and have pesto noodles with canned salmon? What’s that? You want gnocchi with marinara and sliced hot dogs? You got it!

10) Hug everyone.

After IrMaria, the hugs are real and we all need them. Connections made after these stupid storms are different than before. There’s now a distinctly different thread holding us all together and it sewed right through any differences that held us apart before. Mother Nature destroyed mansions and shacks without prejudice. She equalized us all with her fury. She made us all family, in a way, and she has reminded us all of our inherent commonality. It’s kind-of beautiful, really, and I hope that spirit remains.

–   –   –

Ok, survivors – fess up: What do you find yourself doing now, post-hurricanes, that you never did before the storms on your rock?

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.

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