“Need to be free more // What the fuck we got degrees for? // If we ain’t flying overseas more // If we ain’t fucking on the seashore // If we ain’t puffing on the breeze more…” – Trampoline, Jidenna
Saturday, January 29th, 2016
Her: “Wanna move to St. Thomas?
Me: “Fuck yeah”
Sunday, January 30th, 2016
Me: *Purchases one-way airline ticket (via JetBlue airways) for departure one week later*
Here’s how it all went down…
What’s a Girl to Do?
I’d barely woken up, but was happy that I did otherwise I might have missed the above proposition from a former girlfriend that shall from this point forward be referred to as Nefarious Draconian Deceptive Manipulative Bitch or DB for short. I met DB on a rather auspicious night in Phuket, Thailand (of all places) in early November of 2014. Two solo traveling sistas linking up in a country foreign to both of us living our best lives. Phuket was a pit stop for both of us en route to our respective destinations. She was headed North to continue on with her solo explorations and I was headed to “The Kingdom of Wonder”, Cambodia. DB called me on Saturday morning with a proposition that seemed too good to be true…
DB: “Hola chica (she was fluent in Spanish and often referred to me as “chica”, which means “lady” in English). I have a proposition for you. My manager is looking for a replacement for my co-worker. He’s royally fucking up and my manager wants to replace him, I told him about you.” My interest was piqued. DB sold high-end jewelry in one of many jewelry store on the island and made pretty good money doing it. I’d just finished an HR contract at a Midtown Real Estate firm and was up for the next job and/or adventure.
Me: “This is exciting, what do I have to do to interview for the position?”
DB: “Be down here by next Sunday.”
Me: “SUNDAY? OMG – that’s next week!”
DB: “I know, I know, but things move quickly around here chica. Trust me you’ll be good.”
After discussing a few logistics (housing, the interviewing process, the job specifics, etc.) with her I hung up and sat with this invitation for a few hours. I phoned the two people that I could count on for their logical approach to life-changing opportunities – My girl T (whom I often refer to as my Oracle because of her wisdom and keen intuition) and my cousin J (whom I trust because of his intelligence, constant support, and candor) then slept on the proposition for good measure. Upon waking I purchased my one-way ticket for $206 USD + baggage fees to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
“Ahhhhh, did I really just do this?”, I thought to myself. Ummm, yes. Soon after I started to doubt my non-refundable decision and had a legit Q & A session with myself to rationalize what I’d just done. :
Q: “Will I get a job? // A: Yes, I trust DB’s word. I can sell myself, I’ll land this job.”
Q: “What will I do with my apartment? // A: I will sublet it, if not, I will simply pay the rent for as long as I want to hold onto it, then I will let it go when I am ready.”
Q: “What’s keeping me here?” A: “Nothing. I have no job and no dependents. No love interests. Go!”
Q: “What if it doesn’t work out?” // A: “Then I will simply return to Brooklyn refreshed and rejuvenated.”
That was that. I told only a select few – mommy, my sis, close friends, and a few cousins because I knew they wouldn’t attempt to deter me from leaving on such a whim. It wasn’t as if I needed their approval, I naturally wanted to share my excitement about the opportunity and listen to their insight, words of wisdom, and encouragement before my departure.
Preparing to Leave
How the hell does one pack for a one-way trip anyway? I went into my overhead closet storage space and started pulling pieces (way more than I needed) because a bitch needed options.! I wound up pulling enough outfits and sandals to fit into two suitcases (one small, one medium) and into my trusty backpack that I bought with me when I explored Thailand (Bangkok, Hua Hin, & Phuket) and Siem Reap, Cambodia. I packed the basics (under garments & toiletries), work clothes, and casual clothing. When each suitcase reached 50 pounds (the maximum allotted weight for checked bags) I stopped packing. I was pretty strategic in my packing and knew that what I included would provide me with enough variety for a few months.
One week later (Sunday, February 7th) I grabbed my belongings – two suitcases, my backpack, my laptop, and my DSLR camera – and headed downstairs to meet my BFF who was waiting curbside (with my godson in the backseat) to drop me to JFK to catch my 11:59 PM flight to San Juan, PR.
Faith, You My Boo!
I was excited. I wanted to honor that shit as I’d just endured quite possibly the hardest year of my life. 2015 was an insidious poison that tried to end me (ok not really), but it tested my resilience and faith so much. It forced me to reevaluate several things in my life and to find a relationship with the Almighty. I’m not on a religious kick or anything, but I have discovered faith and it feels pretty damn good. Before finding it, I recall (skeptically and angrily) praying to Him asking him to show me why I should believe in Him. I was repeatedly tested and he didn’t do shit for me. Why the fuck should I trust anything that He promised me? To be honest, there were times that I felt abandoned by Him and I was indignant. I suffered from a stress-induced auto-immune disease, I lost my hair, I dealt with financial hardships (I was threatened with eviction), I struggled with finding gainful employment, and I lost weight. In short, I washed. However, despite it all I kept pushing. I didn’t find the faith that I desperately needed so I leaned on my loved ones for theirs as they prayed for, and supported me throughout my tumultuous time.
“You may not have faith, but faith sure has you.”
In fact, I recall a particular conversation that I’d had with my insightful Oracle, T, before receiving the proposition to relocate to St. Thomas. “You may not have faith, but faith sure has you.”, she said. “Me? Faith had me?”, I questioned. Hmph. That simple sentence calmed me. Maybe she was right. I left my dry ass pity party (ain’t no champagne served there) and started to put shit into perspective. I was healthy (for the most part), making ends meet, and was getting by just fine. She WAS right – it was holding me down all this time, but I was just too ungrateful to see and respect it.
Faith came through with a job when I was down to my last (who the hell lands a job the week before Christmas to carry them into the new year? This girl). Faith held my hand as I purchased my ticket (because I was nervous). Faith calmed the butterflies in my stomach when nervousness and self-doubt kicked in (because I was unsure). Faith told me that I was doing what was best for me (because I was). Faith told me that I would be OK … and you know what? Faith was right.
The big day had arrived. I called a taxi on Sunday evening and arrived at JFK with enough time to check my bags and sit patiently in my gate (for about an hour) before boarding my flight. I boarded the plane, expecting a comfortable flight to San Juan, PR (where I had to change to planes to get to my final destination), but the flight crew was on one that night. Those fucktards thought it would be a good idea to blast the air conditioner on a three-hour flight where I pretty much froze the entire flight while I sat there under-dressed (clad in a lightweight long sleeve shirt, leggings, Chucks (sans socks) and a jean jacket). By the time I arrived in San Juan (approximately 4:00 am the following day) I disembarked and went to juice up my phone, grab some grub and wait for my final flight to board. After a four-hour layover, I assumed my preferred seat when flying (the window seat) and checked my phone for text messages before falling asleep for the duration of the (45 minute) flight.
I grabbed my backpack, laptop, camera, and travel pillow and disembarked with the rest of the pale passengers (I was the only melenated passenger on that flight). “So this is St. Thomas”. I thought to myself. I was greeted with dry heat courtesy of the warm sun shining overhead early in the morning. I walked to baggage claim to retrieve my bags and make my way to the exit, where DB informed me her friend would pick me up. To my surprise the Draconian Bitch herself met me and it was sooo good to see her (at that time, meanwhile I shuddering at the memory of touching her vile misshapen body)! I hadn’t seen her since early 2015 when she came to the states and crashed in my couch for a few days before heading out of the country yet again to travel for leisure.
After embracing and quickly catching up, we grabbed my bags and loaded them into the back of the van that was waiting to bring us to my new home. Twenty minutes later I had arrived; a small & quaint two-bedroom apartment with minimal furniture, but plenty of sunlight. I didn’t have much time to explore my new space because I had to head into town to interview right away job that I was hoping to get. I wasn’t dressed for a conventional interview nor did I have time to change so I decided to go “as is” because the meter was running. I removed my jean jacket, took off sweatshirt, tied it around my waist, and darted outside. A crisp white wife-beater , olive green leggings, sneakers and confidence (LOTS of confidence) were going to get me that job.
When left to my own devices I do things I probably shouldn’t do – like accidentally board a ferry to St. John, USVI. Within two hours of being in St. Thomas, I managed to hop on a boat (which I was told was a 25-minute ride around the waterfront) and wind up on a different island. Imagine my surprise when after several minutes the ferry slowed down and docked at a location foreign to me. I followed the other passengers off the boat and onto the dock where I was greeted by a “Welcome to St. John” sign – da fuq? Confusion and exhaustion quickly set in (the sun and sleep deprivation were getting to me) rapidly. I wound up speaking to the Captain of the boat, curving his unwelcome advances, and making my way back to St. Thomas about an hour later. A quick stop to DB’s jewelry shop to prep for my interview (no longer at her employer, but at a neighboring employer – her manager decided to keep the coke-head worker after all) and I was on my way.
*Apu (the proprietor of the jewelry store, **Paradise), appeared to be a kind man upon our initial visit. He was short in stature (no taller than 5’5″) with a head of thick black hair and a neatly trimmed goatee to match. I noticed right away that he was a stylish man, clad in a periwinkle-colored button-up, yellow patterned tie, slate gray slacks, and cognac leather shoes. A yellow-gold watch and tasteful jewelry completed the look. I decided that I liked him and wanted to indeed work at his establishment. After answering several questions and agreeing on the numbers I was instructed to return two days later to meet with his wife for a second round interview. Two days later I returned (this time dressed way more appropriately – in a dress and modest shoes) and got the job! Faith had me yet again. I started on Monday, February 15th – exactly one week after my arrival to the island.
A week of leisure was needed more than I realized. I explored as many beaches as I could I learned the lay of the land. Beauty surrounded me everywhere that I looked and it felt wonderful. The vegetation, the sounds of unfamiliar birds, the sights of adorable lizards, the air, the people, the vibes…. Everything felt perfect and I felt at home.
So, I bet you’re wondering two things: (1) Why the FUCK did I leave Paradise? and (2) Why do I now refer to my former girlfriend as DB? Stay tuned for the answers to that as well as my experience living in the Garden of Eden.
*Apu – His name has been changed to protect his identity
**Paradise – This fictitious name was created to protect the identity of “Apu’s” business
*Previously published in Feb 2016, revised in Nov 2017