Life on my island comes in two seasons: Rainy and Dry.

We love the dry season out here on Guam. The trade winds pick up, the temperature sticks around a nice, comfortable 80°F, the water is cool and refreshing, the grass dry, the hikes bearable.

And then there’s the rainy season.

I fully expected similar weather to the Caribbean out here on Guam and my first season out here did not disappoint. Three months after moving here came a Level 1 typhoon (same thing as a hurricane with the difference that it spins clockwise) brushing past our island. Being no virgin to hurricanes having grown up living through Fran, Floyd, Irene, Isabel, Gaston, Katrina, and Sandy, I did what any self-respecting east coaster does during a Category 1: I made myself a cocktail, watched the radar, waited for a clear moment, and much to my horrified neighbors dismay, I walked my dogs because nature called. They were convinced that we were going to get hit by a coconut and die. Instead, I harvested said fallen coconuts and treated everyone to a cocktail. (Disclaimer: We have been very fortunate that no major typhoons have hit our shores and if they had, I would have likely been in a shelter and trying to convince my dogs to pee on a puppy pad. All has thankfully been well on Guam since I arrived 3.5 years ago.)

And then I experienced a monsoon.

I always joked about monsoons when it would rain all day back home. In dramatic fashion, I would show up to work commenting about needing to leave early so I can work on my Arc.

I will joke no more.

 

guam monsoon

 

Do you know what weeks and weeks of raining does to someone’s mental stability? When those weeks of rains are backed up by a typhoon passing through causing storm surge on top of the inland flooding? I have given up mopping my floors. My apartment has a constant fragrance I have named, “Wet Dog Musk.” I have considered bottling this and selling it on Etsy as “Island Rainy Season.” The entire beach is covered in this algae that appeared overnight and feels like a booger when it squishes between your toes, which is unavoidable for me because, monsoon or not, my dogs gotta pee and wearing slippers (sandals) on the beach is more of a slip hazard than just squishing and sliming your way to the ideal spot in which your dog prefers to hide his poo.

I have spent entirely too much time indoors and my house is a dark, damp sadness that I didn’t realize could even be this dark because I evidently rely on natural lighting entirely too much. I have started having full on conversations with my dogs due to the complete lack of human interaction because no one wants to go out in a monsoon. I have run out of things to binge watch. I ventured out to grocery shop and nearly sunk my lifted Jeep into a river that had once been the main road.

They say that it’s almost over, but I basically have become a meteorologist from all the radar watching I have done and there are several more storms on their way. I don’t think I will ever see the sun again and so this is the life I will lead: soggy and musty and bored out of my mind. There is a bright side in all of this, however:  Guam has been plagued with droughts for the last few years that I have been on island, so as much as I am not enjoying all this rain, I do welcome the increased water tables for my tiny island that used to be in the sun.

That all being said, I was grossly unprepared for this. And now I know. This is miserable. So, next year, I will be ready: I will load up my liquor cabinet BEFORE I have to venture out into the floods.

Written By:

Stephanie Byrne

Current Rock of Residence:

Guam

Island Girl Since:

2015

Originally Hails From:

Virginia

Stephanie wasn’t born on her island, nor did she really have a calling to it. Actually, she had no intention of living on a rock until she could afford to retire to one. And then Guam found her. Stephanie came to Guam in 2015 to help open a new hospital as the Executive Director of Operations. Now, she is the VP of a group that subcontracts for said hospital with the beauty of working from home. She likes to call herself a “scrappy girl from Virginia” (where she grew up until her father got her a passport and she found her desire to see the world).

Stephanie’s been a bit of a nomad, feeling claustrophobic after being in one place too long. She has been known to pack up and move to England, get back and have a taste for the sea and move to the coast. During the Polar Vortex (Is that still a thing? Or have we moved on to bomb storms? She can’t keep up!), she decided that negative temperatures and her did not get along well. So she moved to Southern California. When it was time to plan her wedding, she and her now-husband decided to meet on the island of Maui for the simple purpose of being able to say, “We got Maui’d.” And she thinks that’s what started her island fever.

A month later, she moved to Guam where she awaited her next anxious itch to go somewhere uncharted. It never happened. In all her wanderlust, Guam has somehow anchored her. Maybe it’s the culture. Maybe it’s the depths of the sea, the pristine beaches, and the magnificent sunsets. Or maybe it’s the short flights to exotic places, the ability to spend Halloween in Taipei, Thanksgiving in Bali, and snowboard the New Year in Japan. Or the fact that she lives in the future from her tribe back home, which basically makes her almost a psychic. Or maybe it’s because her husband’s in the Navy and they’re keeping them here.

Obviously that’s 90% of why they are here now, but she is not saddened at the prospect of spending upwards of another 5 years on Guam. Because somehow this rock has become her tiny island in the sun and she will forever be an island girl. With her career now based out of her home, and reporting to many islands, many hospitals, and many people globally, she will always have a presence on this island, even when she no longer resides here permanently.

When she’s not managing doctors (which takes a certain amount of coffee, insanity, good humor, and then wine), she is hiking with her Golden Retriever, paddle-boarding with her Shih Tzu, taking in the sunset, and exploring the world with her husband and travel partner in crime. And when the sun has set and the mosquitoes chase them inside, she takes to her travel blog between working on the novel every writer should say they’re writing.

Living on an island has taught her to give up a lot to gain even more. She gave up Starbucks, Target, malls, consumerism, and empty material things to gain culture, sunsets, adventure, and memories. She’s gotten pretty lost along the way, but managed to find out new things about herself and the colorful world we live in. Island life will drive you a little nuts, she thinks we all end up with a little too much sand in our brains after a while, but with enough humor, you can kick back in your hammock and remember to enjoy the strange, wonderful dynamic of island life.

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

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