So many of “Island Life” writings and ramblings are about the weird stuff that happens on an island, but as I was reminded today by my dear friend, well, basically “chosen family”, Kathryn, that isn’t really what “island life” is about.
No, island life is not about the weird bugs, or the odd smells, or the occasional high heel rotting off as you walk down the street, it really is about the people.
Don’t get me wrong, the crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, endless boating days, and food is all amazing, but the true beauty of the island lies in the people that live here.
There are all types of beauty in the people here. All types of “island family”.
Whether it is someone stopping to give you a helping hand, a ride, or just the time to talk, we are a family. My friend Jess, who has been here twenty years or so told me that when Marilyn hit (a devastating hurricane) people would just take off in the morning and go see how they could be of help TO ANYONE.
Because no matter what is going on in the world, we are all on this rock together, and when the shit hits the fan, no matter how big or small, we are in this together. I wish the whole world could adopt this.
It’s not just the hurricanes though. We raise our babies together. We celebrate our lives together. We cry together.
There is a greeter at Cost-u-less, she is literally the sweetest woman on earth. I remember a day clearly that I was having a horrible day. My mom was having a rough time back in Illinois, and I couldn’t get to her, that’s one of the downfalls of not living in the states, you can’t just pick from a smorgasbord of flights and hop on one. I had one booked for a few days later. I was sad.
She recognized this immediately. We have always exchanged loving greetings and I have grown over the years to look forward to her face when I do my mega shopping for the company that is coming, always telling her who is coming and how excited I am. But, she knew my spirit was low. She asked me how I was, and my response was unenergetic. She asked me “What’s going on baby?” and I started to cry.
Her arms reached out, I fell into them. She held me while I cried for a moment. She let me go, held my pain without judgment, because that is what we do here. That is why we stay here. Because, no matter what it is, we are here together.
Whether it is keeping an eye on someone’s kid, tying their shoes because mom is not right there, or carrying some of the load, because we see a fellow islander hauling a load of crap, we are here together.
I have literally had an islander tell me to get out of my car so that he could park it for me, just because he saw that I was struggling. Hell, my friend gave a stranger her car because they needed to run home and get their spare set of keys for their own car… But guess what? They aren’t strangers anymore!
Then there is the fact that we don’t have our natural families here, most people don’t, unless you were born and raised here, you are not surrounded by your relatives. But, a different family grows, your “island family”. These are the people that you spend your long weekends with, your holidays with, and your days off with. These are the birthday parties, the impromptu Fat Tuesdays, and other random excuses to hang out.
These are the people that you plan your emergencies with, eat your wine-soaked dinners with, and let your real sense of humor out with.
These are the people you plan Easter Egg Hunts, Tea Parties, and these are the people that you formulate your traditions with. “Island Traditions”.
These are the people you call when your lose your shit. These are the people you trust with your babies, the people you trust with your story, and the people that you have chosen to spend this amazing life with.
There are assholes everywhere, they are much fewer a farther between here, or they would be blackballed. I’m not going to say that I LOVE everyone I meet, I’ve even found people that I don’t care for at all, but as a whole, the people here are the real beauty.
Come for the beaches, stay for the people.