It has been an incredible experience to share with our friends that we are moving to an island. Though there have been a few tears- actually, a lot of tears- it’s been a lesson in the connectedness of the world and how putting good karma out is typically reciprocated. From the moment we announced our plans to take this huge leap of faith, we have been amazed by the number of people who’ve been not only willing, but excited, to help us successfully start our new life on St. John.
It started late last year at my annual holiday lunch with two of my best friends, Amy and Kelly. They were the first to know about our Seven Year Itch. I don’t really think they believed me when I announced that Shaun and I were going to list our home early the following year and start the process of downsizing in anticipation for our move. I don’t blame them for being surprised and maybe even a bit skeptical; no one we know just up and quits stable corporate America jobs and heads to the Caribbean. We told our neighborhood friends on our New Years trip to the mountains, and they were equally shocked. Our friends Mary and Luke had the flu and couldn’t make it to the mountains, so we planned a brunch in early January to share the news with them. My sweet friend Mary was the first to shed tears over our move to paradise.
My friend Windy was so excited for us. She’s a pharmaceutical sales rep turned artist, so she knows exactly what it’s like to step away from a great job to try something completely different. She encouraged me to go for it!
Windy is also my connection to Melvin jewelry in Charlotte, my favorite obsession. After our house sold and we moved to our apartment, we felt committed to the cause, which meant no more frivolous purchases like clothes and shoes. And certainly, there was no longer a need to keep up with fall trends! So, I allowed myself two splurges while living at the apartment the past six months- Lululemon and Melvin. Smart shopping, I’m finding, since both are perfect here on St John.
It was on one of my many trips to the Melvin studio that I happened to remember that I hadn’t told my new friends that I was moving to an island. Out of the blue I made my announcement, and it was one of the best things I could’ve ever done. Martha, the owner, told me I needed to read her friend Sherry Harris’ book It Is What It Is about her experience living on St Thomas in the USVIs. I took Martha’s copy of the book home, and upon my return to pick up my new custom Melvin piece a couple of days later, I told Martha that I must have a copy of the book as well as the necklace Melvin created for Sherry with the title inscribed. I loved them both so much! Martha gave me Sherry’s personal email, I wrote her right away, and the rest is pretty much history.
Sherry and I met that very day at Dean & Deluca and started a friendship that I know will last forever. We are sort of the same person in different bodies born a few years apart! Sherry has connected us with so many people in the VIs, which has made our transition here seamless. For instance, she and her husband were neighbors of the owner of the only car dealership in the islands. He and his team have been amazing to work with and even had our loaner vehicle waiting for us at the airport when we arrived since our car isn’t ready yet. Sherry introduced us to Jan Robinson, an accomplished Captain in the VIs. This was great since Shaun aspires to work on a boat! Sherry and Andy invited us to their condo a few weeks ago and over wine and dinner, we listened to their stories and shared our hopes and dreams for life in the Caribbean. The four of us certainly had a lot to talk about!
As word continued to spread that we were moving, friends of friends on Facebook contacted us sharing names and numbers of their friends who live on island. While vacationing last year, we met a precious couple from California whose daughter lives in the British Virgin Islands, and now Chrissann and I are working on plans to meet in person on Saba Rock, a tiny island I’ve always wanted to visit! She’s a talented writer who created a blog Shaun discovered even before her parents told us about it! It’s a small world for sure.
At this point, I have so many different names that I’m getting a little confused about who’s who and on which island they reside. I consider this a good problem to have. I’m seeing evidence all the time that good people find each other. That is true no matter where you live or where you go. And that is one of my favorite things about living on this earth, stateside or on a rock.
Ashley Cates, St. John USVI blogger.