There’s a lot to be said for island life. Simplifying and purging our homes and our lives of unnecessary possessions that are just occupying space can be satisfying and cathartic. Do you know anyone who actually wears even half of the clothes hanging in their closet? And who really needs four sets of spare sheets, two crockpots, twelve winter coats, and seventeen different colors of nail polish?
Clearly there are St. John residents who have every amenity imaginable, plus some luxuries I’ve never heard of; however, for many of us island residents, we’ve had to give up a lot to live in paradise.
With thoughtful longing and a bit of nostalgia for my decades spent living in the contiguous states (a.k.a. the first world), I put together a list of things that seemed really cool to give up at first, yet now are very much missing in my everyday island life.
1. Clothes dryer.
I just left the laundromat. I used to think the laundromat was charming. I felt very culturally enriched being there. Now I just feel hot and angry.
It’s great to conserve water and everything, but seriously, how many dishes can two adults dirty up in a day? I’ll tell you how many- more than I want to have to scrub by hand ever again in my life. Ever.
Empire became my new obsession in May. Season one consisted of 13 episodes that I had to see one after the other, immediately.
Since we don’t have a TV in our island home, we use Hulu to watch TV on my iPad. It’s not ideal, but you learn to adjust. After three episodes of Modern Family, a couple of Inside Amy Schumer’s and the aforementioned Empire marathon, we blew through all of our data on our AT&T plan, and it was only the middle of the month! We had to purchase more data not once, but twice, and still couldn’t watch any more TV that month for fear of overage charges. Thank goodness for our island hopping adventures in late May that occupied some of our time.
4. Nice furniture.
I never thought at my age I would consider a comfortable, full-sized couch covered with non-outdoor fabric a luxury. But since my island home isn’t big enough for a full-size couch, we have just been getting by with our Home Depot outdoor-patio-furniture-style-loveseat. It’s nice and it’s not unsightly, but it’s also not where you want to plop down when you’re tired and hot. I want my old couch put into a container and shipped to St. John. On second thought, once I move somewhere with a bigger living room, I’ll just go over to St. Thomas and order a sofa. Just have to find a new place, move out of my place, set up shop elsewhere, take the ferry to another rock, shop for overpriced furniture there, and wait to have it delivered. I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.
5. ‘Round the clock AC.
Central heating and air… Do you have at your house? Love it, relish it, bask in its glory. Because if you ever move to an island and have window units or wall units, you will see firsthand how your tiny room can go from unbearably hot to frigid in a matter of minutes. And that’s not even the problem… It’s how expensive utilities are coupled with the fact that your body temperature really does regulate and you don’t want to be awakened at night because your tiny bedroom is an icebox! Being able to keep the temperature in my home regulated with little to no strategic planning was more fabulous than I ever realized.
6. A mall.
I want some new clothes. I don’t really need new clothes I suppose, but I just want to go into a store, try some things on, bring them home, and get really excited about the idea of looking somewhat presentable. And I want options. I want dozens of stores to walk into and out of and take my time browsing, wasting needless amounts of time perusing and contemplating my next purchase.
The Bright Side
Paradise ain’t all easy. But the view is great, and I’m a quick 30 minute flight from Puerto Rico, so that can at least satiate my desire to walk through an air-conditioned mall while not thinking about laundry or dishes. And I’m quite certain my hotel room will have a couch and a TV. I’m looking forward to being completely overstimulated by things that not so long ago would never even have crossed my mind.
Ashley Cates, St. John USVI Blogger