Written by: Melissa B
I often compare life on the island to living in a stereotypical small town where everybody knows everyone, everything, and every misstep. If you’ve never experienced what it’s like to live somewhere like Mayberry, allow me give you a briefing so you have an idea of what I’m referring to.
You Know You Live in a Small Town When…
- You have been in the town parade
- Loitering isn’t a bad thing, it’s the only thing
- You refer to THE stoplight
- You measure distance in minutes
The similarities here on Tortola to small town living haunt you sometimes – like times when you can’t find anything open on a Sunday, or times when it feels like the sidewalks have rolled up at 5pm, or times when you just want to be anonymous but will inevitably run into someone you know. Generally, I just shrug it off and accept it as a fact of island life, however, there are two situations where it goes beyond basic acceptance and living in a small town setting can either make or break you.
Small Town-Island Survival Tip #1 : Secure a Reliable Gossip Source
When you go away for a couple of weeks, you’re bound by Small Town Code to come back and immediately catch up on all the gossip you missed while you’ve been away. This is critical: you must have a reliable source to come back to! In Tortola, very little changes with the landscape and businesses and what does can usually be summed up in a sentence or two even if you’ve been gone for months; what can’t be summed up in a sentence or two is the bemusings of the people in Tortola… my equation works out to roughly one drink per week you’ve been away. Without a solid source to come back to, you could mistakenly walk into a minefield of foot-in-mouth situations which have the potential to spread like wildfire. I repeat: always have a reliable gossip source to come back to!
Small Town-Island Survival Tip #2 : When Dating, Hope for the Best – but Prepare for the Worst
If you come to this island single (or single-minded), chances are you are going to end up dating someone and with that, is the chance that you will end up not dating that someone (read: The Dreaded Ex). When dating in your small town-island, it is wise to hope for the best, but prepare for the very worst. Best case scenario, you fall madly in love, spend your days here in bliss, and maybe even take your love with you beyond the island someday. Second choice best case, you break it off amicably and continue on with your separate lives, saying hello in passing and otherwise being unobtrusive. If only it were always that simple…
Enter worst case scenario (the best of the worst), which you can expect to play out in several ways:
- You work in the same office as The Ex and still have to see them everyday
- You attend the same gym as The Ex and even when you vary your schedule, 9 times out of 10, you run into one another
- You start dating someone new and, on your first date, end up being served by The Ex (yes, it happens!)
The other worst case (worst of the worst) combines the small town-island inability to not run into the same person over and over with a case of rock fever (read: uncontrollable crazy behavior) – trust me, you will recognize this situation when you see it. It’s when an abrupt spatter of yelling occurs on an otherwise pleasant Friday night out, or when laser beam eyes start burning a hole in the back of someone’s head when they’re chatting with someone new, or when one person is constantly showboating to whoever will watch to appear as though they are the superior being, or, my personal favourite, when all of the above are combined (with multiple drinks) into one giant explosion of WTF ?! All I can say is, always hope for the best but prepare for the VERY worst.
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With a profound positive outlook on life, I can see the the good side of these small town quirks. When the foot-in-mouth situations occur, or the almighty WTF ?! moment just happened, the good news is that at least you’ll never have to repeat the story yourself; Small Town Code dictates that within the hour, the majority of the population will have already caught up with their source and be fully apprised of the scoop!