Prior to our move to an island, I spent hours reading posts here on Women Who Live on Rocks. I would regale my husband with stories from the strong and entertaining women who’d seemingly mastered island living. I was determined to learn from their lessons and tackle our move armed with an arsenal of resources that would ensure success.
We downsized 26 years of marriage into a pile of boxes in my sister’s basement and then shipped one container of household goods (half of which was the truck we brought with us) to our new rock. Val’s list of “must pack” items were scattered throughout our shipment. I abandoned 99% of my business attire and increased my supply of flip flops and t-shirts by double digits. We bought storage containers to avoid cardboard and thus reduce our risk of cockroaches, weevils, and moths. I scoured the Rock Resources page and accumulated key products any “experienced” island girl was sure to have and arrived with hand fans, reusable grocery bags, and a large supply of powder to avoid the dreaded swamp ass. I was, at least in my mind, ready to rock living on a rock.
We were mentally prepared for island bureaucracy, scavenger hunts to find groceries, and island time. Yet, despite my devotion to this website, I skimmed over warnings about the never-ending battle against rust, clothes that seemingly self-destruct, and the widespread effects of constant heat and humidity.
And here it is my friends: proof that my grandmother’s oft-repeated warning was correct. Okay, so she might have borrowed the saying from Proverbs, but the catchphrase from my youth has materialized:
Pride comes before the fall.
Surely our items won’t rust… or so I thought. I’ve quickly come to realize that rust has a supernatural ability to appear seemingly overnight. Nearly anything with even the slightest speck of metal, inside or outside, will rust. We’re talking the grill, door handles, appliances, bike chains, and even earrings. My delusions of a rust-free home lasted less than two weeks when I noticed my Vitamix blender suffering the effects of salt air. Now we are constantly applying a variety of lotions and potions to delay the inevitable rust. The struggle is real to keep these kinds of items in working order!
And my clothes? I take good care of them… or so I thought. How is it that stains seem to appear out of nowhere and stubbornly resist all removal attempts? It’s gotten to the point that I have created a “stained shirt” pile in my dresser. It’s growing at an alarming rate and I hope I don’t have to switch the methodology and create a small pile of unstained clothes acceptable for public events. Zippers stick, bras fray, and shoes fall apart (thank goodness for the extra flip-flops). Seriously, I am not a messy person – a bit of a neat-freak to be honest – and I assure you this is a real phenomenon.
Then there’s the climate. What’s a little heat and humidity… or so I thought. We’ve lived in Texas and endured summers in Washington, D.C. I smugly thought it would be fine. Surely, we can deal with heat and humidity while living in paradise. But, once again, pride comes before the fall. In our former life, we would navigate between air-conditioned environments throughout the day. We complained about the heat, but only endured it in small snippets as we traversed between the air-conditioned car, house, store, office, etc. Here, we only have air-conditioning in the bedroom and run it infrequently due to the cost. Living in 85-90 degrees 24/7 is tough. My previously smoothly coifed hair has evolved into a curly crazy mess and parts of my body that I didn’t think were capable of sweating are constantly drenched. How much sweat can forearms really produce? We’ve been here 6 months and I’m still trying to acclimatize. How long does it take?
And so, grandma was right. I was proud, and then I fell. I thought that rusty appliances, stained clothing, and humidity-soaked hair happened to others – not me. I read the advice of seasoned islanders and thought I had it all figured out but was too naïve to recognize the inevitable: it takes actual time living on a rock to truly understand what it takes. And so I learn my island lessons the old fashioned way – sweating through experience.
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Did you move to an island thinking you were as prepared as you could be? What surprised you once you were actually there?