I should know by now that I don’t know shit.
4 years ago we decided to move to a Little Rock in the middle of the sea, The Virgin Islands. This had been my dream from the time I was 22 and found out that I was not for The American Dream.
I needed the sea, I needed simplicity, I needed less in so many ways. My dreams of being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company were gone. I was never qualified to kiss that much ass, nor was I willing to put in the work to become qualified, my mouth always stood between me and the corporate ladder.
We took our then two year old and sold everything we owned, and got rid of the rest. With four duffle bags, we left everything and set off for a new life, void of the nuances of suburbia. We were happy, free, and empowered. This was the best life we could give her, a childhood free of advertising, fast food, and keeping up with the Jones’.
The life that we found there was magical. Sure, there were definite downsides, but even the downsides felt like upsides, gifts given to us by opening our minds to a different way. Naked babies on the beach more than made up for the inconveniences of living in the middle of the ocean. We could not drive 10 minutes and buy anything we wanted, food of any ethnic type could no longer be delivered in 30 minutes or less, but we had quiet and peace like we’d never known, we were simply living.
Our people came, we had visitors constantly and basically were on vacation for four years straight, showing the wonders of island living off like we had something to do with them, and there was a pride in knowing that some of the people we loved from back home would have never seen such beauty if it weren’t for our bravery.
We had a preschool co-op with mothers that were real, loving, and kind. We made friends that were more like family and we never looked back. A childhood full of frolicking bare butted on the beach, climbing boulders by the ocean, and drifting off to sleep with the lullaby of crashing waves singing her softly to sleep.
It wasn’t perfect, island life is precisely the opposite, it’s so imperfect that it circled back into bliss, and even power outages reminded us to slow down and be grateful. That’s why it’s paradise, not because of the weather and the beautiful beaches, but because you are reminded to be present in all that you do.
When hurricanes Irma and Maria hit that life was over.
We evacuated and have been displaced for 5 months. We were the lucky ones. We were actually the luckiest people I know. My in-laws had an extra home for us to take shelter in Naples Florida, arguably one of the most beautiful places in the US.
Poor us. Right?
5 months ago we were going to stay on our island for the unforeseeable future. 5 months ago I didn’t think I’d ever have been able to make it on the mainland again, I wasn’t suitable for it, much like I’m no longer suitable for a corporate workplace. My mouth stands between me and the American Dream
I’m not gonna lie, I’ll never miss the 10 dollar rotten strawberries, and I do love being able to get udon noodles on the fly. But, I leave a big part of my heart in the middle of the sea, with the velvet air, and the bright blue patchwork water, but mostly it’s wrapped all around those people that I love.
Outrunning Irma was traumatic, so we put our girl in a school to get some routine and I searched to find her a distraction. She started English horseback riding, she found her home there, on the back of a big animal, and now we live here. She loves her school, loves her teacher, loves her new friends. She thrives here with experiences that we could not give her on our beautiful rock.
I won’t pretend that this is the first time my life has changed on a dime.
Living my dream of living on an island has morphed into my living my dream of providing the best childhood for her, and when push comes to shove, that is really what I want, more than want, this is why I am.
Had you asked me where I wouldn’t be living 5 months ago, Naples would have been on the top 5 “not on your life list”. Hell, there is not a blade of grass misgrown, but we have found an odd happiness here, a comfort in the kindness of the people, a closeness with my in-laws that I never thought possible, and a community to raise our little mountain lion of a girl in. But that’s what the universe does, it bitch slaps you when you think you know anything.
So now, I will roll with her punches and try to maintain the simplicity of island life on the mainland, Island Lizzy without an island. So I will live “island style” on the mainland, without the cocktails in the car, and maybe I won’t fit in, and maybe that is okay with me.